How to Decipher Large Pharma’s Dating Game?

The annual Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Convention is around the corner, and several of our clients are extremely excited as several of the large pharmas have requested to meet with them at BIO. These clients are in different therapeutic areas, but all are developing novel small molecules or biologics with targets that are of interest to large pharma. However, in several cases their lead molecules are in very early preclinical stages. How does one decipher large pharma’s interest? Is it that they are truly interested to partner with assets at this stage in development? The Novateur team’s several decades of experience from both the buy side of large pharma and the sell side at biotech tells us that in such cases large pharma is mainly gathering competitive intelligence – and “just in case” they might lose out to the other large pharmas. Some signs are: The large pharma will ask questions but is only interested in non-confidential information and is not willing to sign a confidentiality agreement. Your primary contact at the large pharma throughout is junior business development staff (i.e. managers and associates). The primary jobs of these titles is gathering and strategizing competitive intelligence. This information helps large pharma understand the landscape of the disease, target and the who’s who. Generally if large pharma is truly interested, you would see senior executives getting engaged and confidentiality agreements being signed. So when does large pharma become seriously interested to partner? In our experience, with the exception of certain “hot” fields, large pharma is generally not willing to risk large amounts of upfront cash or their own resources for...