A flurry of deals this week involving pharma giants Pfizer and BioNTech, developer of cancer-fighting proteins, was widely anticipated for its potential to reshape the industry. The companies formed a joint venture called Cannet-19, a tracking stock that will have COOs for both companies. But the executives testifying before a Senate committee on Wednesday didn’t seem too concerned with the prospect of penny stocks — promising, but largely illiquid investments intended for institutional investors — taking the lead.
The Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who chairs the committee that also heard testimony from Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said Congress should adopt rules that would prevent these companies from showing up when companies sign deals with different public and private companies that all share the same basic aim. “It’s our job to keep our congressional committee interested in innovation,” said Klobuchar.
The easiest way, said Howard’s Teddy Kolber, a chief patent examiner, to turn an invention into a potentially lucrative business is to make it available to the next step in the development process, at a stage called “going critical.” Within the 10 years to 50 years that companies can legally manufacture a drug, there is a huge opportunity for rapid innovation, he said. But since that stage is also when firms can start raising venture money, it is at this very stage where companies can take a risk that their company’s intellectual property will last a long time.
As Novartis’ U.S. general counsel, David Braun, put it: “It might be attractive to start and expand a business with one company, but you can imagine a competitive situation that could put an impediment in the way of that.”
Read the full story at Scientific American.
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