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Gates Foundation could rival pharma, analysts warn

Published on 15/05/07 at 12:03pm


The pharmaceutical industry could suffer a blow to its reputation, and could even suffer commercially, if it fails to appreciate the potential of the Gates Foundation, analysts IMS Health have warned.

The prediction is included in the companys new report, Intelligence.360, and is one of 10 harbingers or glimpses of emerging trends likely to shape pharma in the future.

Last June, billionaire Warren Buffet made the pledge to donate most of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, adding $30.7 billion to the organisation's coffers.

And from next year, Bill Gates will leave his role as head of Microsoft to concentrate full-time on the foundation's work - a sure sign that the vast sum of money will not be squandered, but rather will produce some very significant results.

The organisation has already created an international network of research consortia to accelerate research into vaccines for HIV and other major killers including TB and malaria.

If it succeeds, the foundation could not only discover new therapies for these areas, but also produce spin-offs which could go on to rival some of pharma's own R&D programmes.

Simon Holt, IMS Healths head of consulting for Europe and the Middle East said pharma could find itself sidelined in some emerging therapeutic areas.

"While the Gates Foundation is currently focused on the unmet needs of developing nations, the therapies it develops could have broader horizons.

"As the pharmaceutical industry repeatedly demonstrates, research in one area frequently produces discoveries in another area altogether.

"The danger for the industry in not more aggressively addressing the problems of developing nations is that it could be shut out of other therapeutic areas."

Holt said whether or not the foundation succeeds, pharma companies need to ensure they work 'synergistically' with it and other emerging private-public partnerships (PPPs), or risk being outflanked by the new organisations.

IMS Healths 10 Harbingers for 2007:

* India Open For Business

India's adoption of patent laws is supporting rapid growth and development into a major pharmaceutical market.

The country's pharma market will grow on average by 13-16% between 2005 and 2010, with the overall market share of patent-protected products also expected to increase rapidly.

* Gates Foundation Emerges as a New Force in Pharma R&D

* Pharma Titans overhaul R&D

* Mid-size Mergers

* Longer Gaps Between Approval and Launch

* Lessons to be learned from Plavix Patent Deal

* Oncology Reforms Could Open Up Japanese Market

* Mandatory Health Insurance in the US?

Massachusetts will become the first state in the US to make health insurance mandatory for all its residents in July 2007. If the rest of the country follows suit, IMS Health believes it will boost medicines spending and eliminate the long-standing problem of millions with no health insurance.

* Greater Focus on Health Economics Needed

* Tighter Rules on US and European Supply Chains Pending

Copies of the Intelligence.360 report are available from IMS Health by calling 020 3075 5000 or by visiting

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