Experts from pharma and biotech discuss the future of collaborations in healthcare

100 experts from the international Life Science sector gathered in Dusseldorf, capital of North Rhine-Westfalia, Germany, at the 7th European Business Development Conference organised by the German biotechnology industry organisation (BIO Deutschland) to discuss concepts of drug development, partnering and financing strategies. Panelists throughout the two day program strongly agreed that the key to success lies in truly differentiated drugs that can make a clear difference in a patient’s life and at the same time are financially sustainable.

The diverse program covered trends in oncology, investment criteria, the risk area of orphan drugs as well the future of research and development for chronic diseases. After the welcome address of Peter Heinrich, president of BIO Deutschland, the first keynote speaker Simon Moroney, CEO of MorphoSys, gave his highly anticipated opening presentation with the title “How to create sustainable success in the healthcare sector”. He ended by stating that the future of healthcare will be built on truly differentiated drugs. A claim also repeatedly stressed by other distinguished panelists throughout the program.

According to Detlev Biniszkiewicz, VP Oncology at AstraZeneca, the future of cancer therapy is in the combination of different approaches. “We need you, we need biotech”, Biniszkiewicz said to emphasize AstraZeneca’s open approach to collaboration.

The first conference day ended with a discussion panel of biotech financing experts who engaged in a lively discussion about how to identify the right “window of opportunity” for partnering. According to Karsten Henco of HS Life Sciences, this window is very early within the first two years, a recommendation not unanimously shared by his discussion partners Olivier Litzka (Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners), Frank Kalkbrenner (Boehringer Ingelheim) and Martin Pöhlchen (Sinfonie Life Science Management).

A round of presentations of biotech orphan drugs developers put the spotlight on the regulatory risks involved with clinical trials for orphan drugs. Thomas Meier, CEO of Santhera Pharmaceuticals illustrated the advantages of adaptive licensing as an emerging regulatory approach to allow earlier market entry and patient access to treatments with promising evidence of efficacy. At the final session about novel therapies for chronic diseases, panelists agreed that thanks to novel therapies, many deadly diseases have become chronic and manageable. Also Mark McDade, COO at UCB, stressed the importance of focusing on novel drugs that show a clear benefit compared to existing formulas.

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