12 July 2018Americas

LSIPR 50 2018: Leading the transformation change

Charged with protecting the innovation arising from MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, as well as AstraZeneca’s innovative medicines and early development biotech units, Scott Alban’s job is far from insignificant.

Alban was behind AstraZeneca and MedImmune’s recent transformation of its global IP organisation to circumvent geographic and cultural barriers between the IP professionals who support pharmaceuticals and biologics across seven global sites.

“We wanted to empower our attorneys and other patent professionals to work collaboratively across multiple therapy areas, technology platforms and therapeutic modalities,” he says.

All AstraZeneca’s patent attorneys are now co-located in three core research facilities in Gaithersburg, in the US state of Maryland; Cambridge, UK; and Gothenburg, Sweden.

The transformation is already showing positive results, explains Alban, who says he’s observed a more collaborative culture “allowing the team to develop and deliver creative strategies to ensure innovation continues to thrive”. This development is intended to have long-term benefits, not only for the organisation but ultimately for the patients that AstraZeneca and MedImmune serve.

According to the executive, robust collaboration inside and outside the company is vital to the realisation of AstraZeneca’s ambitions of achieving scientific leadership in its core therapy areas and delivering life-changing new medicines to patients.

He adds: “It’s part of our DNA at AstraZeneca and MedImmune.”

Collaboration outside AstraZeneca can take the form of licensing. The company has a strong track record of in-licensing and acquiring new technologies that are a “good fit” within its core capabilities, and out-licensing assets that are better served in the hands of others.

In May last year, pharmaceutical company Recordati paid AstraZeneca $300 million for the European commercial rights to two beta-blockers: Seloken/Seloken Zok (metoprolol tartrate/metoprolol succinate) and Logimax (metoprolol succinate and felodipine), which are used for the treatment of hypertension, angina and heart failure.

Advancing science

Alban explains that the company is always looking for the best way to advance science while accelerating the benefits to patients.

His team ensures that AstraZeneca and
MedImmune scientists maintain their ability to innovate and develop important medicines for patients.

This involves working alongside the AstraZeneca’s business development teams in the evaluation of new opportunities (eg, asset licences, M&A, and scientific collaborations).

AstraZeneca’s business development and partnering teams are embedded within its R&D and portfolio strategy units, meaning that AstraZeneca and MedImmune can combine scientific and commercial insight with business development expertise.

It also means ensuring that R&D and commercial assets are appropriately protected throughout the process to allow for future innovation.

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