Bristol-Myers Squibb: BioPharma and the String of Pearls
BioPharma and the String of Pearls

Redefining the Meaning of a Successful 21st Century BioPharma Company

Jaclyn Neely and Amy Lan
Jaclyn Neely and Amy Lan, Oncology Biomarker Team scientists, are helping to develop innovative new cancer therapies.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to helping patients prevail against serious diseases. To accelerate the discovery and development of new therapies, we are complementing and enhancing our internal capabilities with a suite of innovative alliances, partnerships and acquisitions with small and large companies.

This is our String of Pearls strategy.

Each String of Pearls transaction is targeted to fit with the company’s strategic focus on specific disease areas, and builds upon an existing strength within our organization or creates a new area of medical or technical expertise. The ultimate goal is to offer patients new treatment options in areas of serious disease with significant unmet medical need.

Bristol-Myers Squibb launched this aspect of its corporate strategy with the acquisition of Adnexus Therapeutics in October 2007. Since then, this string of new technologies, alliances and acquisitions – including novel and first-in-class small molecules and biologic compounds in clinical development – has strengthened the pipeline, extended our relationships with existing partners and, it is hoped, will enhance our ability to help future patients prevail over serious diseases.

Thanks in part to the String of Pearls strategy and the alliances with third parties, our pipeline and productivity continue to expand. Today, more than 40 percent of our pipeline and 50 percent of our revenue come from alliances with other companies.

Since 2007 we have successfully completed 11 pearl transactions encompassing many of our key disease areas, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, immunology, neuroscience, rheumatoid arthritis and virology:

  • Adnexus Therapeutics acquisition
  • KAI Pharmaceuticals
  • Kosan Biosciences
  • PDL BioPharma
  • Exelixis
  • ZymoGenetics collaboration
  • Nissan Chemical Industries and Teijin Pharma
  • Medarex Inc. acquisition
  • Alder BioPharmaceuticals
  • Allergan
  • ZymoGenetics acquisition

String of Pearls is embedded within Bristol-Myers Squibb as a core strategy that differentiates us from others in the industry.

Picking our Pearls … the BioPharma Way

Bristol-Myers Squibb has a well-defined BioPharma strategy, uniquely combining the strengths of a traditional pharmaceutical company – such as its global reach and integrated commercial and manufacturing capabilities – with the advantages of agility and entrepreneurial thinking that are the hallmarks of successful biotech companies.

A key element of the BioPharma model is a streamlined and flexible approach to business, including the processes underlying Selective Integration – working with third parties to improve and enhance our abilities.

“The quest to bring new medicines to patients is a long and expensive one, and we recognize that we can’t do everything ourselves,” says Elliott Sigal, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer and president, R&D. “As a result, the company will continually look for selective transactions to expand our String of Pearls. At the same time, we are have partnered some of our programs with other large companies – in a manner very similar to biotechnology companies – extending our commercial capabilities. These ‘peer to peer’ alliances will, where appropriate, continue to be part of our approach.”

Transactions with AstraZeneca and Pfizer are examples of this “biotech-like” approach. In early 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb entered into co-development and co-commercialization agreements with AstraZeneca and Pfizer for investigational compounds discovered by Bristol-Myers Squibb. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s agreements with AstraZeneca involve two compounds for the treatment of diabetes, Onglyza™ (saxagliptin) and the investigational compound dapagliflozin. With Pfizer, the collaboration involves apixaban, an investigational anticoagulant being studied for the prevention and treatment of a broad range of venous and arterial thrombotic conditions.

The agreements with AstraZeneca and Pfizer include upfront and milestone payments to Bristol-Myers Squibb. Onglyza was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2009 and by the European Commission for marketing authorization in the European Union in October 2009.

Our largest pearl transaction was the acquisition of Medarex Inc. in August 2009 for $2.3 billion. With this acquisition we significantly expanded our oncology pipeline and biologics capabilities and obtained full rights to ipilimumab, an investigational immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma. In addition to melanoma, Ipilimumab is being studied in prostate and lung cancers. Our most recent String of Pearls acquisition – of ZymoGenetics in October 2010 – brought us the full rights to pegylated interferon lambda, and investigational compound for hepatitis C virus, as well as other promising investigational biologics. Notably, this is the first String of Pearls acquisition in which we have secured an existing product – Recothrom®, an approved topical medication to control bleeding during surgery – as well as pipeline assets.

In short, our BioPharma vision, articulated by the String of Pearls strategy, has transformed our way of doing business.

We’ve modernized and reorganized the manner in which we identify, contact, secure and manage relationships with outside third parties. These transactions are highly strategic, targeted and fit with overall corporate strategy. The organization that leads this is the Strategic Transaction Group (STG), which is part of the Strategy, Alliances and Transactions group. This group incorporates elements from all parts of the company, including R&D, Global Marketing, Legal, Finance and HR, all working together.

Significantly, STG works directly for CEO Lamberto Andreotti. The result, is that the processes to secure and integrate due diligence and to make decisions to execute transactions are efficient, thorough and can be extremely rapid where required.

Key to the success of our BioPharma strategy is the cultural change that is ongoing within the company. Bristol-Myers Squibb is becoming more agile, entrepreneurial and accountable. String of Pearls is helping to drive that cultural change. As the company acquires biotech companies, technology and expertise, this culture is infused ever more deeply throughout our organization.

With these changes and others that are taking place within Bristol-Myers Squibb, we intend to define the meaning of a successful 21st century BioPharma company.

Please see US Full Prescribing Information for Onglyza (saxagliptin).


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