As BioWorld Insight readers know, our “Word on the Street” column provides a sample of the most entertaining and thought-provoking quotes our staff stumbles upon each week. Some are gathered during interviews, some gleaned from analyst reports, and some overheard at conferences. As we kick off 2012, here’s a look back at some of the quotes that defined 2011:
“Biotech is all about picking the exception. Granting access to capital to everyone doesn’t strike me as the right idea.”
‑ Bob More, general partner with Frazier Healthcare Ventures, taking an optimistic view on capital constraints. Private biotechs continued to struggle in 2011, raising about as much money as in 2010.
"I think we're going to see a regression to quality."
‑ Jim Healy, general partner at Sofinnova Ventures, on how the venture contraction will mean that only the highest quality companies get funded. Several venture groups pulled out of biotech investing during 2011.
“The take-home message is that it’s easy to build a $25 million company with $100 million cash.”
‑ Tillman Gerngross, CEO of Adimab LLC, on the trend of sliding valuations post-initial public offering. Although a handful of biotechs went public in 2011, the window did not open as wide as some had hoped.
"You can't save your way to success in this business."
‑ Marina Biotech Inc.'s CEO Michael French on the tough financial choices small biotechs must make, such as accepting harsh terms to keep a company moving forward.
“Monday, I was in Chicago, presenting at ASCO. Tuesday, I’m in California, pitching at Goldman (Sachs). And Wednesday, I’m in New York, presenting at Jefferies. How many red-eye medallion miles does it take to get one deal?”
‑ A jet-lagged biopharma CEO, taking a break at the Jefferies 2011 Global Healthcare Conference, and illustrating just how hard biotechs had to work to close financings and partnerships in 2011
“What happens when the next 10 patients you see require eight different drug combinations based on the mutations in their tumors?”
‑ Outgoing ASCO president George Sledge, on the exponential increases in complexity required to tackle “chaotic” tumors with high mutational load. Personalization of medicine continued to be a theme at ASCO and AACR in 2011.
"You do have to be somewhat of a Talmudic scholar to prescribe this drug."
‑ Lawrence Friedman, member of the FDA Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee, referring to the regimen for Merck & Co. Inc.'s hepatitis C candidate boceprevir. His comments illustrate the difficulties of putting more personalized treatment regimens into practice.
"The fact that it's inefficient doesn't mean it hasn't made great contributions."
“It disturbs me that people are willing to accept this: treating the symptoms and allowing the disease to progress.”
‑ Jerry Colca, president and chief scientific officer at Metabolic Solutions Development Co., on new diabetes drugs
“For every target, almost every company has an inhibitor against it. Medically, as well as economically, we truly need something to get beyond that."
‑ Chiang Li, CEO of Boston Biomedical Inc.
"A lot of innovation is incremental, not breakthrough."
‑ Glen Giovannetti, global biotechnology leader at Ernst & Young
“I realize it’s absurd to talk about 10Xs or even 5Xs these days.”
‑ Roger Longman, CEO of Real Endpoints LLC
“A combination of good science, good collaborations, good timing and some good luck.”
‑ Mace Rothenberg, Pfizer Inc.’s senior vice president of clinical development and medical affairs in the Oncology Business Unit, on the secrets to the success of lung cancer drug Xalkori (crizotinib)
"You can only set yourself on fire once."
‑ Oleg Nodelman, partner at Biotechnology Value Fund, referring to how pharma stocks tend to jump when they severely cut R&D budgets
"Clearly, there are easier and less insane ways to make a living."
‑ Jim Greenwood, BIO president and CEO, at the BIO 2011 keynote luncheon