Raised Expectations…

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…




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
This entry was posted in Personal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Raised Expectations…

  1. Briggs says:

    Hi Steve

    Is what you state true? Last I looked the odds of success do not differ between internal and licensed moleules.

    And your first sentence is backwards. What is true of all humans is that what we dont know is billions of times greater than what we do know.



    • Steve Street says:


      Your comments always make me think. They always have and always will. My take on the in license vs. internal is that companies are all at different places in terms of what they are doing to increase survival on their own compounds and how much scrutiny they place on in licensed opportunities. And for sure I know how much time and effort you place on both classes…

      Trust you are well – look forward to catching up soon

      Cheers, and thanks again


  2. dram says:

    The general thrust seems to be plausible though – I cannot say I have any data but would love to see it. Intuitively I would expect better decisions to be made when the decider is emotionally detached. I like the World Cup analogy! Everyone knew England were expected to lose to Italy but the British Press is (in some quarters at least) treating it like a disaster.

    • Steve Street says:


      Great to hear from you and thanks…and as you will have spotted… the English decline only got worse… but France is going for it… as is Germany… and USA!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s