Challenges to Innovate in the Canadian Biotech Industry

By: Fatema Fatakdawala

One of the key challenges faced by innovators of the R&D department is to develop economic value for their products in the pipeline. With the added burden of increasing regulatory hurdles, today, pharma and biotech companies have to waste up to an extra 2 years to get clearance from organizations such as the CDR (Common Drug Review) and PMPRB (Patented Medicine Price Review Board). Due to resource constraints, the only option left for firms in this industry is to pool their resources in an R&D model described below.

Based on the E&Y Super Session at this year’s BIO International Convention 2012 in Boston, MA; the panelists outlined the concept of a “patient-centric R&D” as they outlined the need for biotech firms to improve R&D processes through early stage collaboration. This approach allows researchers to gather and react to pooled data in real-time in a united effort that ultimately benefits patients.

One example of an innovative collaboration model highlighted in the Session was a concept E&Y developed for the report called the HOLNet (holistic open learning network) system. HOLNet involves pharmaceutical and biotech companies, payers, providers and patient groups that work together to establish standards for data pooling, allowing for more open avenues to develop treatments in an environment that is favorable to the needs of the patient. While the panelists were enthusiastic of the promises that the HOLNet system could deliver on, they all agreed that it would take considerable efforts on behalf of all corners of the healthcare system to bring the idea to fruition.

On one hand, it would be great to see companies collaborate for the better good of patients but the question is, will large pharma be ready to embrace this model and reveal their R&D projects to their marketplace competitors?

Fatema joins the RIC team as the Communications Officer responsible for marketing, social media, event and web management. She is a graduate student pursuing her final year in the Master of Biotechnology program at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

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