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BIO 2012 Super Session Recap: Ernst & Young’s Beyond Borders

June 19, 2012
The fanfare surrounding this morning’s unveiling of Ernst & Young’s 26th annual report on the state of the biotech industry, Beyond Borders, was buoyed by positive trends outlined in the report that show despite the overall lingering uneasiness in the economy, biotech is continuing its growth momentum.

The Super Session at the 2012 BIO International Convention was moderated by members of Ernst & Young’s life sciences leadership team: Glen Giovannetti, Gautam Jaggi and Sanjeev Wadhwa; and panelists included founder and former CEO of Vertex, Joshua Boger; Marc Cantillon, MD, of Medical Director Wellness Management; Magali Haas, incoming CSO/CTO of One Mind for Research; and David Steinberg, partner at Puretech Ventures.

At the outset of the session, Mr. Jaggi highlighted key findings that demonstrate continued growth for the biotech industry: the stabilization of revenues, increases in both R&D and overall funding, and an increase in mergers and acquisitions. In addition to these signs of financial strength – including a finding that biotechs collectively experienced more than 10 percent revenue growth for the first time since the global financial crisis began – the report also highlighted the “seismic shift” that the healthcare industry is undergoing that enhances the patient’s role in the system.

The concept of “patient-centric R&D” was outlined by the panelists as they emphasized the need for biotechs to improve R&D processes through pre-competitive 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.

Interestingly, some panelists suggested companies may be less likely to participate in data and resource sharing due to the loss of a competitive advantage and emphasized the need for a united shift towards a level playing field. Additionally, panelists discussed the need for changes in the regulatory processes to accommodate for this increased sense of openness and cooperation in the HOLNet system. Lastly, they noted the emerging trend of patient-reported outcomes, which allow for valuable data to be collected, analyzed and shared that originates from sources outside of traditional biopharma-generated data.

Overall, the panel agreed that the proposed HOLNet system, if achievable, would be a revolutionary change to the current healthcare ecosystem.

Watch an interview about the Beyond Borders report from the BIO Buzz Center: