At CONVERGE this week, Alan Ying of Chrysalis Ventures spoke with Craig Lipset of Pfizer about what changes are required for a pharma company to move from selling pills to selling data, and incorporating new sources of data and finding the talent to analyze and organize it.
Lipset said that Pfizer has realized that making a pill is not half as challenging as figuring out how to communicate good data to providers, payers and patients. Lipset is Pfizer’s head of clinical innovation, worldwide research and development, and Ying is a partner at Chrysalis. Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Ying: Now we are awash in data: social media, personal health records online, to name only two sources. How does your company embrace this or reject it?
Lipset: There’s this broad continuum of how data from outside Pfizer’s walls is being used for so many things. We use this data in research to validate a hypothesis, in clinical research when planning a new test or selecting a new site, in health economics and outcomes research and market analytics.
Ying: We’re invested in a business that does genetic testing that can determine what kind of chemotherapy a person will get. Currently there is a 70 percent failure rate with chemo, but you can flip it to be 80 percent successful if you have the genetic marker information. There are a lot of interactions with payers in this business. Are those types of business model evolutions something that Pfizer is considering?
Lipset: When you look at our R&D portfolio, we are almost relying on it. Look at the collaboration with MedCo. The essence of that collaboration was centered around personalized medicine. We are relying on this information to target meds; it is crucial to making these products successful. The opportunities for us around precision medicine and personalized medicine are very important for us going forfward.
Ying: Core to the glory days of the past 30 years has been the patented drug. Now the business model is shifting to require a different set of skills. Where are life science businesses getting the expertise to address this?
Lipset: We do have the right skill set in other pockets of the company, like the epidemiology department.
Ying: Every payer we run into has put up divisions run by former venture capitalists and they are taking a lot of risk. Is your industry doing the same?
Lipset: Pfizer has a venture group much as many of our peers do and we have been increasingly supportive of moving into adjacent areas.