Not all biopharmaceutical companies are created equal.
Every company touts itself as a cutting-edge innovator, pointing to this recent breakthrough or that new research initiative in a white-hot field as evidence. In some cases, though, there’s more smoke than fire behind those claims.
If you are a job candidate, or a small biotech looking for the ideal partner in areas such as immunology, oncology, virology or neurology, you will want to dig a little deeper. Which companies have research and development (R&D) programs that are focused on making a real difference, and give you an opportunity to do the same? Answers to a few key questions will help you tell which companies walk their R&D talk.
1. Do they prioritize research and development?
Real innovation requires a productive R&D engine at the heart of the company. It’s the best sign of a company’s long-term commitment to breakthrough innovation, and it’s the backbone of a company’s scientific culture.
That doesn’t mean every new idea comes from within; the best companies recognize the best basic science ideas regardless of their source. Partnerships with other organizations, such as AbbVie’s recently announced collaborations with Boehringer Ingelheim and with various academic research centers, are important for all biopharmaceutical leaders. Their internal R&D horsepower, though, is what enables them to take those initial ideas and consistently turn them into potential new medicines.
You can measure that success by looking at a company’s pipeline. The best have broad clinical pipelines spanning all phases of development, from early pre-clinical work to large registration studies. They’re also consistently more successful than their peers in moving potential new drugs through clinical development and on to approval. The IDEA Pharma's 2017 Productive Innovation Index ranked AbbVie No. 2 among the top 30 pharmaceutical companies most successful at developing and commercializing new medicines.
Prioritizing R&D also demands significant, consistent financial resources to support the early laboratory work, the pre-clinical tests and all those clinical trials. Since becoming an independent biopharmaceutical company in 2013, AbbVie has substantially increased its R&D spending, reaching $4.2 billion in 2016, on par with its peers.