Putting R&D into BD

AstraZeneca boosts R&D's role in outside search for business development assets

AstraZeneca plc clearly has the restructuring bug, as last Thursday it announced it would shrink its neuroscience unit into a 40-50 person group exclusively focused on external opportunities. But it was not the first move toward a more externally facing future.

As the pharma has found more of its pipeline coming from outside sources, the company also has found the way it did business development no longer matched its needs. Last month, the company disclosed a revamped BD model that puts researchers center stage.

Traditionally, BD teams handle all partnering activities, from sourcing to negotiating. AZ's new model gives much of the "find" function for early to mid-stage compounds to researchers.

President of R&D Martin MacKay and Shaun Grady, VP and head of the Strategic Partnering and Business Development (SPBD) group, told BioCentury that AZ's 10,000-person R&D organization provides much greater experience and relationships than can be provided by its 100-person BD team. The smaller numbers and experience base also meant there was a chance that good science

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