An important part of being communicators is to have a voice so that you are part of the conversation. If you do not contribute your views, especially if the topic is your company or is about an issue critical to your company, then no one will hear them or others will define the discussion for you. A good example of this is illustrated in an article in the September, 2009, issue of The Atlantic.
The healthcare reform debate in Congress, in the media and among citizens revolves around how health insurance in the U.S. should be reformed so that most of our citizens are covered by an insurance plan. Most agree that our system is not sustainable and that the large number of uninsured citizens is a national disgrace. The points of debate center on the scope of government involvement, insurance cooperatives, the taxability of employer-sponsored health plans, etc. Missing from the debate is a discussion of the fundamental structure of our health system. David Goldhill’s article (pp. 38 to 55) has helped to bring the issue of our health system structure into the national discussion.
Mr. Goldhill’s father was admitted to a New York City hospital for pneumonia and died there from a hospital-acquired infection. His tragedy was the catalyst for his own exploration for why the U.S. healthcare system produces results no better than other national systems (at best) but at much higher cost. His business and customer service perspective led him to the conclusion that incentives for healthcare participans (insurance companies, physicians, institutions and patients) are warped by significant government intervention (mandates, tax incentives, etc.) that has been layered onto our system for many decades. His general solution is to reform the incentives so that participants are incentivized to maximize health while using the system wisely and cost-effectively.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with his prescription for health reform is not the point, though we find many of his arguments provocative and compelling. The point that we want to make is that Mr. Goldhill has introduced new ideas into the discussion that have not been made, at least through the mass media. He found his voice to bring his ideas into the national discussion on a topic of interest to him. We recommend to our clients that they do the same so that their voices are heard, they become part of the discussion on issues critical to them and not let others define their position for them.
Burrill & Company’s latest update on the biotech industry maintains a positive outlook despite a cooling off in August.
According to the report:
- $530 million venture capital was raised by U.S. biotech companies in August, 2009, with deals such as Pacific Biosciences ($65 million), Complete Genomics ($45 million), and Adamas Pharmaceuticals ($40 million).
- There was also the IPO of Cumberland Pharmaceuticals that raised $85 million by offering 5,000,000 shares at $17, below the expected range of $19 to $21. The specialty pharmaceuticals company has products on the market, including a new injectable treatment for pain and fever.
- Traditionally, the fourth quarter is one of the best in the biotech market. Momentum is expected to pick up in the last quarter of 2009 despite market uncertainties.
- Currently, there are 328 publically traded biotech companies on major U.S. markets with an aggregate market cap of $340 billion.
Public biotech companies can take full advantage of the upward trend in the market by escalating their corporate communications efforts to effectively reach institutional and retail investors.
An article by Andrew Pollack in the New York Times on September 2, 2009, discusses Pfizer’s interest in developing drugs for cancer, moving away from cardiovascular drugs such as Lipitor. Large pharmaceutical companies together with small biotechnology companies have and continue to invest billions of dollars in the cancer space hoping for big payoffs from the high prices of cancer treatments.
Since 2006, cancer drugs have had the highest sales worldwide when compared to other drug groups, according to IMS Health. There is no clear distinction between cancer drugs with large or small benefits. Tarceva, for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, was approved although it improved survival by only 12 days. Tarceva costs about $3,500 a month. Executives focus on drugs that have a better chance of reaching the market rather than those that may offer bigger gains. Pfizer is hoping to reach $11 billion in sales of cancer drugs by 2018.
Studies showed that genetic changes in cells cause cancer growth providing drug companies with numerous molecules treatments could block. However, there are so many molecules in a tumor that by blocking one or two is not effective. Also, tumor cells can develop resistance to some drugs.
In this environment, it is important for development stage oncology companies to effectively communicate the value of their assets in order to optimize partnering opportunities.