Partnership is the way to get pharmaceutical research and development pipelines flowing, says the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD).

In future, “no company – big, medium, or small pharma, or biotech – will develop new drugs entirely alone,” claimed the Center’s director, Kenneth Kaitin, at a recent panel meeting of industry executives in the US.

“Increasingly, R&D productivity gains will depend on developers focusing on what they contribute best to the drug development value chain and partnering with organisations that provide capabilities that are too expensive to develop or maintain internally, or are outside of the company’s core competence,” he added.

The panel, convened to identify operating models that can improve R&D productivity, was part of the Tufts CSDD Management R&D Roundtable Series. It included executives from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Wyeth, Genzyme, Parexel, PDL BioPharma, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and EDM Serono.

The Tufts Center presented findings from new research conducted with operations management consulting firm PRTM, including the observation that organisations with centralised decision-making structures correlate with higher levels of R&D efficiency.

Decision-making apart, the panellists agreed that, in order to quicken the pace of drug development, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies would not only partner with each other but would form strong alliances with organisations outside the sector, such as overnight shipping companies.

While traditional approaches to boosting R&D productivity, such as full or partial vertical integration, “still carry validity, they are not the wave of the future, since they tend to divert attention away from what a company does best”, Kaitin commented.