There is a lot I don’t know and there’s quite a lot I do know. But knowing something is very different from understanding it. There is much I know but don’t understand. I have long since accepted that this is true. I don’t worry about it…but I do try to rectify…
My inquisitive side seeks to know, and understand, more. I can’t stop asking, reading, listening and thinking. And it works. For example, I know more today than I did yesterday, last week and last year. I have asked many questions, listened to many answers and have thought a great deal.
For example, after Saturday, I know that every four years I dutifully get my England soccer shirt out of the drawer. But I don’t understand why every four years I raise my England World Cup expectations…only for them to be dashed (OK I know. We have only played one – lost one, and there are still at least two games to come. Come on England!)
After my discussions last week on site in the UK, I know more about law, about business, about nutrition, about science and – from the news – about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I understand more about the value of friendship and partnership, about the importance of great science and great delivery, about people and about myself.
At the end of the week, I was talking over coffee with a best friend at work. After we put our respective worlds to rights, we found ourselves talking about licensing deals in our industry.
Our pharmaceutical industry depends heavily on licensing deals. Companies who own things – technology, targets, compounds – frequently license use of those assets to other companies who want or need them. More specifically, we discussed licensing of development candidates by larger companies from smaller companies – normally around Phase 2 clinical trials when patient efficacy and safety data are first obtained. Very exciting. Very common. Very important. This I know.
What I have never understood though, is why an in-licensed drug candidate is so often reported as being more successful that a ‘home grown’ drug candidate. Success being defined as more likely to progress through clinical trials to regulatory approval and market launch. Most everyone I know, or meet, from the pharmaceutical industry will agree to this ‘increased success’. This I know. But I don’t understand.
I have thought a great deal about this information. And I still don’t understand it. Why should it be, that being discovered ‘elsewhere’, will make a product more successful than a ‘home-grown’ project? It makes no sense. To me. Until now.
I heard a theory…over coffee on Friday. A theory about decision making. About independence of decision making. The theory assumes that within any organisation, there is ownership bias. In effect, if a decision to advance (or stop) a project is made by the project team, they will decide to advance in 65% of cases. If the decision is made by an independent group exposed to the same data, they will recommend stopping in 65% of cases.
With this in mind, it is possible that a smaller biotech – with more to lose and more to gain – and with independent financial backers, could inherently be more likely to make better – or at least more impartial – ‘stop-go’ decisions on their projects.
Moreover, decisions to licence in a drug will tend to be inherently more impartial. At the very least ‘due diligence’ licensing decisions are reviewed – and re-reviewed – multiple times at multiple levels.
I can’t say my increased understanding is necessarily true, and nor does it explain everything I know, but it helps me understand better…and makes me think more…