Big Pharma says It Must Collaborate with Juniors to Revive Real Innovation

Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry has come a long way in the last few decades, but with the saturation of medical technology, a slowdown as is being witnessed now was definitely inevitable. Big pharmaceutical companies are suddenly looking to collaborate at all levels to spark innovation.

Several companies have formed partnerships to advance new drug innovations including Medtronic plc (NYSE: MDT), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), Zynerba Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ZYNE), and Aequus Pharmaceuticals (OTC: AQSZF ) (TSX.V: AQS).

According to leaders in the field, by partnering with smaller companies that are innovation-rich, big pharma companies not only get access to novel ideas but do so at a fraction of the cost.

This is a big driver of innovation and major new drugs and therapies that contribute to better overall global health.

Leaders advancing this approach include Medtronic plc ( NYSE: MDT) that manufactures and sells device-based medical therapies, Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), which makes diagnostic devices and offers branded generic pharmaceuticals; along with and Zynerba Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ZYNE).

A solid example of collaboration with a smaller company is Aequus Pharmaceuticals (OTC: AQSZF) (TSX.V: AQS), a pharmaceutical developr advancing novel delivery and a product pipeline with two significant partnerships; Supernus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SUPN), for the in-license Canadian rights to Supernus’s two epilepsy medicines, Topiramate XR, and Oxcarbazepine, and a separate deal with Corium International (NASDAQ: CORI).
Japanese pharma giant Takeda Pharmaceutical is one of the big companies that have led this push, signing more than 65 such collaborations in the last year and a half.


In recent years, there has been an observable trend where breakthroughs are happening outside big pharma environments, with small companies and academia taking the lead.

In order to reinvigorate their innovation portfolio, big pharma companies have been looking to partnerships with smaller companies with breakthroughs in new areas that have high innovative leeway such as drug delivery systems and treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

Japanese pharma giant Takeda Pharmaceutical is one of the big companies that have led this push. Their partnerships take many different forms and are cut with players of all sizes, from one-person start-ups to universities and biotech companies. The company takes up ideas in all stages of research development, from earliest stages to market stage logistics.

Takeda usually takes the initiative to reach out to promising institutions, but cases where the other party contacts them first are becoming more common.

Takeda’s main areas of interest are oncology, CNS conditions and gastroenterology.

In one of the deals, Takeda is partnering with BioSurfaces to develop various drug-delivery systems for people with gastrointestinal illnesses.

Another deal, signed with AstraZeneca to help develop an antibody treatment for Parkinson’s disease represents another approach that Takeda is using to keep it at the forefront of biotech innovation.

Daniel Curran, senior vice president and head of Takeda’s Centre for External Innovation points to a prevailing trend where the majority of drugs approved in the last decade have been developed by small companies and academia.

Curran attributes this to high overhead and infrastructure costs associated with the structure big pharma, which diverts resources from innovation.


Aequus Pharmaceuticals is a junior pharmaceutical company that has leveraged its collaboration to advance transdermal delivery systems.

Among the eight ongoing product programs in Aequus’s portfolio, four utilize a transdermal delivery system: AQS1301 (Transdermal Aripiprazole); AQS1302 (Transdermal Clobazam); AQS1303 (Transdermal Pyridoxine/Doxylamine); and AQS1304 (Transdermal Medical Cannabis).

By utilizing a patch, patients can have higher confidence in their dosages, especially with drugs that require multiple dose times during the day. A patient tied to the clock, over and over during the day, is much more susceptible to missing a dosage, and likely reducing the effectiveness of their medicine.

In the case of AQS1303, the transdermal form aims to replace a medication that is normally taken orally—up to four times a day.

Both AQS1301 and AQS1302 could be very important to their patients, as they both deal with neurological disorders that depend heavily on dosage consistency (schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, and epilepsy).

The company’s early collaboration with such large partners adds fuel to the investor interest as well.


This model of big to small collaboration is beneficial for all parties. It’s just a question of guiding the right growth.

Smaller companies often lack the resources to push their innovations through the full process of research and development, hence collaboration with moneyed companies helps to accelerate their development to market.

Big pharma on the other hand get in on the ground floor of promising innovations that help to keep their R&D costs down and open up new revenue streams. The entire healthcare industry is set to benefit from these partnerships, with novel biotech breakthroughs coming out to help deal with hard-to-treat conditions better.

Such partnerships will be increasingly important for critical breakthroughs in the healthcare industry.

The next push for global health improvement will be dependent on innovations in previously overlooked or already saturated areas of medical technology. Refining already existing technologies such as drug delivery systems like the innovations by Aequus Pharmaceuticals promises to yield the next wave of mass healthcare improvements akin to what was witnessed after the discovery of antibiotics.

With companies like Takeda directing requisite capital towards promising innovations in these areas, such a breakthrough does not to be far off.


Medtronic plc (NYSE: MDT)

Medtronic plc manufactures and sells device-based medical therapies to hospitals, physicians, clinicians, and patients worldwide. The company’s Cardiac and Vascular Group segment offers implantable cardiac pacemakers, cardioverter defibrillators, and cardiac resynchronization therapy devices; diagnostics and monitoring devices; mechanical circulatory support, TYRX, and AF products; and remote monitoring and patient-centered software. It also provides transcatheter heart valves, percutaneous coronary intervention stents, surgical valve replacement and repair products, endovascular stent grafts, peripheral vascular products, and products to treat superficial and deep venous diseases. Its Minimally Invasive Therapies Group segment offers surgical care, wound closure, electrosurgical, hernia mechanical device, mesh implant, ablation, interventional lung, and care solutions. The company was founded in 1949 and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT)

Abbott Laboratories manufactures and sells health care products worldwide. The company’s Established Pharmaceutical Products segment offers branded generic pharmaceuticals to treat pancreatic exocrine insufficiency; irritable bowel syndrome or biliary spasm; intrahepatic cholestasis or depressive symptoms; gynecological disorders among others. Its Diagnostic Products segment provides immunoassay and clinical chemistry systems; assays used to screen and/or diagnosis cancer, cardiac, drugs of abuse, fertility, infectious diseases, and therapeutic drug monitoring; hematology systems and reagents; and a suite of informatics tools and professional services. The company’s Nutritional Products segment provides pediatric and adult nutritional products. The company was founded in 1888 and is headquartered in North Chicago, Illinois.

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ZYNE)

Zynerba focuses on developing and commercializing proprietary synthetic cannabinoid therapeutics formulated for transdermal delivery. Its product candidates include ZYN002, which is in Phase II clinical trial for adult patients with refractory epileptic focal seizures and osteoarthritis, as well as pediatric patients with fragile X syndrome; and ZYN001 that is in preclinical stage for the treatment of fibromyalgia and peripheral neuropathic pain.

For a more in-depth look into AQS you can view the in-depth report at USA News Group:

USA News Group

Legal Disclaimer/Disclosure:

While all information is believed to be reliable, it is not guaranteed by us to be accurate. Individuals should assume that all information contained in our report/commentary piece/article is not trustworthy unless verified by their own independent research. Also, because events and circumstances frequently do not occur as expected, there will likely be differences between the any predictions and actual results. Always consult a licensed investment professional before making any investment decision. Be extremely careful, investing in securities carries a high degree of risk; you may likely lose some or all of the investment.

Furthermore, it is certainly possible for errors or omissions to take place regarding the profiled company, in communications, writing and/or editing.

Nothing in this publication should be considered as personalized financial advice. We are not licensed under any securities laws to address your particular financial situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized financial advice. Please consult a licensed financial advisor before making any investment decision. This is a paid advertisement and is neither an offer nor recommendation to buy or sell any security. We hold no investment licenses and are thus neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice. The content in this report is not provided to any individual with a view toward their individual circumstances. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Market IQ Media Group, Inc. (“MIQ”). MIQ has been paid a fee for Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc. advertising and digital media from the company. There may be 3rd parties who may have shares of Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc., and may liquidate their shares which could have a negative effect on the price of the stock. This compensation constitutes a conflict of interest as to our ability to remain objective in our communication regarding the profiled company. Because of this conflict, individuals are strongly encouraged to not use this report as the basis for any investment decision. The owner/operator of USA News Group owns shares of Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc. purchased through participating in a private placement with the company. MIQ will not sell any shares in the next 72 hours as of February 1, 2018, after which, MIQ reserves the right to buy and sell shares of AQS without any further notice.

By reading this communication, you agree to the terms of this disclaimer, including, but not limited to: releasing MIQ, its affiliates, assigns and successors from any and all liability, damages, and injury from the information contained in this communication. You further warrant that you are solely responsible for any financial outcome that may come from your investment decisions. MIQ reserves the right to update and/or change the content of this disclaimer without any further notice, it is the readers responsibility to review any and all disclaimers contained on this website.