N.J.-based research powering global drug development
Steven J. Dundas
cated staff at the facility where it conducts tri-
Daiichi Sankyo’s Edison hub als; it recently marked its 100th study at MDS
relies on state’s balanced skills over eight years, Alexander said.
sets to drive pharma innovation A growing number of industries, including
Big Pharma, are increasingly restructuring their
BY SHANKAR P. R&D organizations “to split it out somehow,
JOSEPH PIERONI, president and chief executive and try and act smaller,” Alexander said, as the
of the Parsippany-based U.S. operations of Dai- old model of centralizing R&D operations in-
ichi Sankyo Inc., expects to know “in a couple of house has failed. “If R&D is scalable, then who-
months” if his company’s drug, Efient, could ever spends the most money should have the
indeed become the blockbuster it promises to most success in drug discovery, right?” he said.
be. Efient will target the market now served by “That hasn’t really worked out.”
Plavix, from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi- Gormley said his company’s model also
Aventis, that has worldwide sales of $8.634 bil- works from a state-level perspective, as it “pro-
lion, according to IMS Health, of Norwalk, tects New Jersey jobs when there are changes in
Conn.; that makes Plavix the second-most valu- the economic cycle … the core remains stable.”
able drug after Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor. And while Daiichi Sankyo may be mid-
Efient, an anticoagulant, and a half-dozen sized — it’s the 25th-largest drug company
cancer drugs form the guts of the research worldwide — its strategy is making life uncom-
pipeline upon which Daiichi Sankyo’s Tokyo- fortable for competitors. Take Efient, which
based parents are banking. Much less known is John C. Alexander, global head of research and development for Daiichi Sankyo, left, and Glenn Gormley, Daiichi is developing with Eli Lilly & Co. It takes
the fact that half the research and development president of pharmaceuticals development, at the company’s clinical research center in Edison. direct aim at Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Plavix, and
spending ($1.7 billion worldwide in 2008) on is aimed at treating patients with acute coro-
those drugs are controlled out of the company’s “Could you do all that in Pennsylvania, ly hired as president of pharmaceuticals devel- nary syndromes getting stents. It’s awaiting U.S.
100,000-square-foot clinical research center in New York or Boston?” asked Pieroni, of the opment. Previously, Gormley had senior roles regulatory approval; it already has European
Edison, said John C. Alexander, the company’s company’s New Jersey presence. “You could do with Merck, AstraZeneca and Novartis. Union approval.
global head of R&D. it anywhere else, but the answer [in New Jersey] New Jersey also offers the ideal location for “If [Efient] is approved, we’ll increase our
Alexander, who was instrumental in set- is human capital.” Daiichi Sankyo’s business model, which “incor- hospital sales forces, both for ourselves and for
ting up the Edison center a decade ago, said Pieroni said while he could tap research porates outsourcing as a strategic component,” Sanofi-Aventis,” said Lamberto Andreotti, Bris-
half the R&D dollars are managed from there. talent in California and Massachusetts, he