Merck Serono embraces partnering in all its forms

November 11, 2014 ctheodoropulos

A novel format for the opening plenary session of the 20th anniversary edition of BIO-Europe® offered three keynote presentations by leading pharmaceutical companies, followed by a sit-down panel discussion among the three speakers. See video “Biopharma strategy: More focus, more value?

Executive VP and Head of Global Research and Development at Merck Serono, Luciano Rossetti is also a Member of the Executive Committee who joined the company in late July this year. He offered to share with the audience a perspective from what he called a brief tenure.

Luciano Rossetti, Merck Serono

Luciano Rossetti, Merck Serono

“I found a company extremely involved in partnering, and have discovered how Merck Serono has embraced partnerships in many different models. While for many years the company has been particularly successful with mature, later stage products, more recently the focus has been strongly on innovative, earlier stage projects.

“We have a strategy that is very much driven by science and unmet medical needs. Leveraging external innovation is integral to this new strategy and partnership is the foundation for this initiative.

“We are investing quite heavily in markets outside the typical US and European pharma centers, notably with development hubs in China and Japan. Here we believe that partnership, perhaps more than acquisition, is the way to expand our geographical footprint in specific areas, and to move into this strategic environment.

“We partner obviously to strengthen the pipeline with high-reward and high-risk projects. Our focus is on real assets. I should emphasize the real interest is from discovery to development but focused on assets. Looking at our discovery and early development, we are focused on three areas that are incredibly intertwined : oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.  We also have an interest in multiple sclerosis within neuroscience.

“It is difficult to pinpoint which are the favored partnership models. We are so heavily involved in partnering that we are doing it with every conceivable model. I would say there is a preference for real partnership rather than straightforward licensing or acquisition. There is a strong belief that we need to integrate the strengths of our internal lab and marketing people with external partners.

“The concept of partnership is embedded into the fundamentals of how we want to work. Most projects are true collaborative partnerships. We are not looking only for an asset but also the know-how, a specific expertise that can be integrated into a program. Collaboration is the fundamental point and how teams work together is extremely important. Leveraging external innovation to complement internal expertise is a must. And we are doing this in a collaborative mode.”



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