Ranking reveals biopharma’s most innovative companies

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For the second year in a row, Pfizer claimed the coveted No. 1 spot on IDEA Pharma’s Innovation Index while AstraZeneca retained its No. 1 position on the Invention Index.

A dozen years ago, Mike Rea, CEO and founder of IDEA Pharma, endeavored to understand why some companies are better at launching their pipelines than others and asked: If two pharma companies were given the same molecule in early phase, which of the two would be better at developing and launching it?

Now, IDEA Pharma’s analysts dig into publicly available clinical, regulatory and commercial data of the top 30 pharma companies every year to assess their productivity and effectiveness. To evaluate the top inventors, IDEA examines the pipelines of the top 30 pharma companies, looking for novel medicines being driven by scientific breakthroughs.

Pfizer’s No. 1 ranking, according to IDEA, is based on its COVID-19 portfolio, as well as eight product approvals in 2022, including an approval by the European Medicines Agency for Vydura, the first medicine given the nod for both acute and prophylactic treatment of migraine and the FDA approval of Cibinqo for moderate-to-severe eczema. Pfizer also notched four 2022 acquisitions — Arena Pharmaceuticals, Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, Global Blood Therapeutics and ReViral — which are expected to bolster the Big Pharma’s pipeline, product portfolios and revenue stream — from $5 billion to $30 billion by 2030.

IDEA chart

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For its No. 1 spot on the Invention Index, AstraZeneca was lauded not just for its burgeoning pipeline of almost 180 projects — 155 of which are in the clinic — but for its potential to significantly impact disease areas and patient populations with unmet needs. IDEA analysts also noted that while it’s still early in terms of understanding the long game, AZ’s investment in AI-enabled drug discovery is among the highest in the industry.

“On one side we look at the R&D investment and how efficient and effective companies are, and on the other side, we look at how successful they are with realizing innovation in terms of creating meaningful value from their inventions,” said Jacqueline Barendregt, chief operating officer of IDEA Pharma.

Barendregt also noted that invention — developing new drugs — does not always directly lead to innovation — created value from those products.

Jacqueline Barendregt, COO, IDEA Pharma

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“One thing that stood out when we looked at two of the top pharma organizations, Pfizer and Novartis, which ranked No. 7 on the Innovation Index, is that we can see that they’re almost equally effective and efficient in their R&D spend. They are up almost 20% in terms of developing drugs from phase 1 to getting regulatory approval,” Barendregt said. “However, if we then look at the revenue generated from new products, Pfizer is at 60% which correlates with $61 billion coming from products launched in the last three to five years. Whereas, Novartis has less than 10% of its revenue coming from products launched in the last three to five years.”

Part of this discrepancy, Barendregt noted, has to do with the types of therapies the companies have been developing.

“A major growth driver for Pfizer in 2022 was the COVID products — the company achieved more than $100 billion in revenue, a record in its history. But at Novartis, which had the highest number of approvals — 14 last year — and focused on innovative platforms like RNA and cell and gene therapies, this creates a different environment for development,” Barendregt pointed out. “The products are indicated for small patient populations, which are unlikely to yield large revenue streams. This demonstrates that connection between invention and innovation and that efficiency is good, but efficiency without effectiveness is, in the long run, not sustainable.”

Here, Barendregt shares further insights into the 2023 indices including the surprises, dark horses and the volatility of the rankings.

This interview has been edited for brevity and style.

PHARMAVOICE: Pfizer was at the top of the rankings again this year, what specifically gives it an edge in terms of its R&D philosophy?

JACQUELINE BARENDREGT: When we looked specifically at Pfizer, what it does well is how it leverages data. Pfizer uses system partners to generate unique insights. And those unique insights are from a disease perspective to understand what quality of life means for a specific patient population and what are some of the challenges that they experience along their care journey in terms of the different standards of care. Pfizer also looks at the payer and prescriber mix. This data input is used to build a holistic view as to the different elements of value when it comes to developing their medicines. And the company starts early — it’s not an afterthought going into launch when they think about the patient as the most important stakeholder in all of this. It’s really from the R&D perspective. I think this is something that sets them apart.

2023 IDEA Pharma Innovation Index

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2023 IDEA Pharma Invention Index

Looking at AstraZeneca and its pipeline, do you think it has the capacity to take over the No. 1 spot on the Innovation Index?

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