AstraZeneca: Shaun Grady discusses AZ’s partnering strategy at BPE




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Video title: AstraZeneca: Shaun Grady discusses AZ’s partnering strategy at BPE
Released on: November 02, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Paul Larsmon talks to Shaun Grady, VP Strategic Partnering Business Development of Astra Zeneca.
Shaun Grady's Role as Vice President of business development and strategy planning
Paul Larsmon :
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review coming to you from a BioPartnering Europe 2011. With me is Shaun Grady, from AstraZeneca. Shaun, you are called the Vice President, Strategic Partnering and Business Development, tell me a little bit about what you do?
Shaun Grady:
So in AstraZeneca we've got a very strong focus on what we call externalization so acquisitions, licensing, partnering, and collaboration. We've set ourselves a target that 40% of our pipeline and portfolio will M&A through externalization from outside the company and then my role is Head of Business Development and Strategic Partnering, I run a group of about 120 people around the globe very much organized around our therapy areas, we have five small molecule therapy areas that we call innovative medicine units and within through that group we coordinate and lead the identification, evaluation and then execution of the business development transaction so acquisitions, licensing and partnering.
AstraZeneca's focus and approach towards externalization
Paul Larsmon :
Obviously there has been a huge transformation in AstraZeneca recently you've closed down some R&D sites, you've touched on this but what you're actually trying to achieve in the medium to long-term?
Shaun Grady:
Yes so we carried out a very in-depth and comprehensive strategy review with our board of directors at the beginning of 2010 and as part of that we made a firm commitment to what people describe as pure-play pharma, so actually unlike some of our peers and competitors not going down the diversification route but instead focusing on prescription medicines so innovative technologies that will make a meaningful difference to patients lives and as part of that we've got a very clear and strong view that to be successful we not only need to develop our internal programs but we need to source externalization from outside the company, so hence the importance and focus on externalization in order to improve R&D productivity as part of this focused strategy to deliver meaningful medicines for patient.
Paul Larsmon :
You are not alone in taking this sort of approach, how do you think biotech's will notice the difference when they're dealing with AstraZeneca with, perhaps one of your rivals like Glaxo?
Shaun Grady:
Well it's interesting you say we are not alone, but actually if you look at the so called big pharma our peer pharma companies there is actually quite a difference and differentiated strategic approach that we all taking and when we look at it and we think about it we are actually probably pretty unique in being the only pharma that is both pure-play and has a global footprint, so we are present in over a 100 countries, we've got very strong sales marketing capability in the emerging markets, so we firmly believe that if you know, if you can crack that R&D productivity from our internal programs and from the externalization activity we then got a first class excellent sales and marketing capability both in established and emerging markets that will enable us to commercialize those products very successfully. So we do think we got a differentiated strategy, in terms of the what will be different for biotech's since we've been going through all this change we've actually spent quite a bit of time thinking through what is it about partnering with AstraZeneca that provides differentiation, because you are absolutely right there are number of companies competing for good quality external projects, so we've spent quite a bit of time calling out and articulating why partners would want to work with AstraZeneca whether it's our payer approach, whether it's our sales and marketing, whether it's our patent, litigation, defense expertise but actually the more we think about it and it seems quite simple that what actually differentiates you is the quality of the experience that the partner has, so very actually simple and you almost say courteous things like a prompt reply, like a tailored response like putting people in touch with the people who are relevant in the particular therapy or geography very quickly so people aren't been passed from pillar to post and if it's a no if the approach that's been made isn't actually relevant to AstraZeneca letting people know that quickly and actually not wasting people's time. So all the skills and technical capabilities and commercial attributes that we have we are trying to be much more clear about what they are, but we are also spending a lot of time on responsiveness and having much more of a peer-to-peer relationship and conversation with biotech's than they may be happened in the past.
Types of deals and relationship with Academia
Paul Larsmon :
All this relationships are always important in business and it sounds like a very good idea, but what sort of deals are you looking to do with these biotech's once you've established this personal relationship?
Shaun Grady:
When we talk about biotech's actually we are actually looking to do deals to be more than external externalization all the way across the value chain, so we are spending a lot of time focused on our relationships with academia with universities and research institutes, we've got over a 1000 live relationships with academia, historically we did university type deals in areas where we were established so North America, Sweden and the UK, but increasingly we are working with universities in the so called emerging markets in the strategic markets so we put a collaboration in place with Peking University in the cardiovascular area during last year and actually last week I was in Moscow, Moscow State University where we run a sort of dragon sten type funding a contest if you will, and we met the eight faculties from across Russia who were actually the winners of that funding. So there is quite a shift in terms of the geographic location of the academic institutions that we are working with, and then the deals we're trying to do are all the way through the value chain so looking in preclinical programs, technology platforms at early Phase I, Phase II stage assets particularly late stage, I mean the late stage development the Phase III ready the Phase III projects are obviously our priority as a business development group, but additionally we are there looking on market opportunity so projects where products may be launched in North America but the proprietor doesn't have a footprint or infrastructure in emerging markets we'd very much like to work with those parties and help them commercialize their products in other parts of the world. So there is no particular point on the value chain that we are focused on we are looking at opportunities all across there but with a specific productization around late stage.
Paul Larsmon :
I am sure you'd say that this is an open door approach if you like, I mean I guess some people might say it's bit of a scattergun approach, I mean there is still a relevant of desperation here trying to find the new drugs?
Shaun Grady:
No I see quite the opposite, because there is a huge amount of opportunities out there we are approached all the time by different people with different opportunities, so to my mind what's really important is being very clear on what your priorities are so we have these five small molecule innovative medicine units they each have a business plan that comes to a governance group for approval so they identify the internal programs that they would like to take forward and would like to do funding, but they also identify what the business development priorities are of that group and that's approved by this governance group we call it the portfolio investment board it's chaired by David Brandon our Chief Executive, I am a member of that group participating in being there Head of Business Development, so each of our therapy areas has a very clear strategic focus which enables us to rather than be scattergun to be really focused on the areas that we've identified ahead of time as being the highest strategic priorities for us and being very complementary with our internal portfolio. I mean yes, sure you've heard the phrase that you've got to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince or princess and I think part of that is being really clear about what you are interested in and equally being very clear about what you are not interested in and then actually being candid with people and saying look this is an area where we want to play.
"Adding values through payer expertise"
Paul Larsmon :
Okay, I mean we've got NICE over here, we've got healthcare reform going on in the states, now AstraZeneca has spoken about adding values through payer expertise, what do you mean by that phrase?
Shaun Grady:
Yes so I mean obviously we and other groups have had sort of health economic groups and expertise overtime, but I think increasingly used to be adequate or acceptable to have a safe and effective compound to take through into registration and commercialization now it's need to be safe, and effective, and sufficiently differentiated from the therapies and the products that are on the market to justify the payer to actually bring that into the formulary, so we are spending a lot of time both for our internal program and the external opportunities that we see challenging ourselves whether those programs are sufficiently differentiated that are NICE or German regulatory authority would believe that is an added benefit that's worth we are paying for and in turn that's very closely linked to the whole area of we personalized healthcare where we again have a specific group who are focused on that, in our case we are very collaborative in terms of delivery of our personalized healthcare strategy, but the key thing is if you can convince the payer that you've identified a segment of patients for whom this particular therapy works and therefore you are avoiding the diseconomy of people being treated who are non-responders to that particular therapy then you starting to produce a compelling economic and commercial as well as health argument for the people who fundamentally ultimately will be paying for these medicines.
Paul Larsmon :
And there is also the real world evidence initiative I suppose that's part of the same process is it, how does that work and what is that mean?
Shaun Grady:
Yes, I mean that's a great question. So we put a deal in place last year in the US with HealthCore where we are working with HealthCore who have access to patient data and it's very much in the nature of a collaboration of a sort of a research collaboration where it's not as if HealthCore have a particular solution and approach that we're gonna just buy of the shelf in terms of answering questions that AstraZeneca feels it needs to address, but rather then we are gonna work together and build up solutions so that when we are in discussion with payers, when we are developing our programs and our clinical trial designs that's then in the context of having some real evidence about what happens in practice in terms of in the physician's office, in terms of patient compliance, in terms of non-responders and follow long treatments and having a much broader and more informed picture of what's happening rather than singly relying on the data that emerge from your Phase III trial program.
Shaun Grady's perspective: Opportunities for new Blockbuster drugs
Paul Larsmon :
Okay Shaun you are in charge of Business Development, I mean do you hope that one day there will be another big block buster down the road or do you think those days are over is that one of the reasons why I am at (indiscernable) this so much?
Shaun Grady:
Well we do see large opportunities, we do see projects both internally and externally that have potential peak year sales that people would categorize as blockbusters, so I don't think we are never gonna see another blockbuster.
Paul Larsmon :
In what field do you think it might be in?
Shaun Grady:
I think it's not sort of specific to a particular therapy area.
Paul Larsmon :
Alzheimer's?
Shaun Grady:
cardiovascular , respiratory I mean if you just think about the unmet medical need around as you say around neuroscience, around Alzheimer's still around diabetes and obesity huge unmet need is still in infection, so that's what makes us believe that there is still some very high value opportunities to pursue, at the same time with patients segmentation and trying to more target products to a particular patient group by definition that might mean that overall commercial opportunity is smaller than it might have been in the past, but we still see some very significant opportunities if you can get the science right, you've got the right skills and capabilities to commercialize and you've fought through all the payer and economic aspects.
Paul Larsmon :
Shaun Grady, thanks very much for joining us.
Shaun Grady:
Thank you, my pleasure.
Paul Larsmon
Paul Larsmon has worked as a broadcast television journalist for 25 years, covering general news, business and politics. He has been both presenter and producer in several news broadcasters, including the major British television news company ITN. He joined PharmaTelevision as Executive Producer earlier this year and has been responsible for getting , PTV News launched.
Shaun Grady
VP
Shaun Grady is presently VP Strategic Partnering and Business Development of AstraZeneca. Shaun Grady has global responsibility for the Strategic Partnering and Business Development (SPBD) function, dedicated to broadening AstraZeneca's access to scientific innovation outside our own laboratories - a key strategic priority for AstraZeneca. The scope of his team includes in-licensing, acquisition and partnering activities from early stage Discovery through to on-market commercial opportunities. Shaun originally joined ICI as an attorney and held positions in the Pharmaceuticals, Petrochemicals, and Head Office Legal Departments. Upon the demerger of Zeneca from ICI he was appointed Assistant General Counsel, Corporate. He worked on the merger of Astra and Zeneca, the merger of Zeneca Agrochemicals with Novartis Agribusiness to form Syngenta, and the creation of Avecia.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a company that has proven success in deals and alliances. PharmaVentures offers: Over 18 years of healthcare industry experience gained from working with in excess of 1000 clients in 38 countries, and conducting more than 450 assignments Over 40 specialist advisors, analysts and researchers Skills honed in many countries - 80% of its business comes from outside the UK.
AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal , cardiovascular, neuroscience , respiratory and inflammation , oncology and infectious disease . AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.