The Pharmaceutical and Biotech industry is only second to the Technology Hardware and Equipment industry in terms of ranking of annual R&D investments (Badr et al 2006). However, even with the increasing amount of R&D spend year-over-year, the productivity of the R&D pipelines across the pharma industry has not improved (Eli Lilly and Company, unpublished data). The development of “blockbuster” drugs can potentially generate billions of dollars of sales and provide much-needed medical breakthroughs for patients, but the R&D process leading to the commercial success is often times long, expensive, and full of uncertainties and failures. The industry is highly defendant on innovations and thus inherently competitive. The Competitive Intelligence (CI) function within a pharma company can help the strategic decision making (SDM) process in that it brings the awareness of competitor pipelines, differentiation strategy, and disease landscape into SDM of the R&D pipelines. However, a recent survey showed that only 11.9% of the European pharma companies answered “Very Often” when asked about the “Extent to which CI is a key component of the SDM process”. Here, we illustrate the journey of the CI function within Eli Lilly and Company from a supporting role of SDM to an integral part of the portfolio decision-making process, which impacts all R&D portfolio decisions from internal assets to external collaborations and acquisitions.
Chen Su is Senior Research Advisor - Portofolio Strategy at Eli Lilly and Company.
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