Will Big Pharma get the bug for microbiome therapies?


Craig Thomson, Leena Contarino and Andrew Wells

Will Big Pharma get the bug for microbiome therapies?

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The exciting field of microbiome therapeutics offers many opportunities for ‘Big Pharma’ players that are staring over the exclusivity cliff, say Craig Thomson, Leena Contarino and Andrew Wells of HGF.

The microbiome therapeutics field is dominated by many innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), all focused on driving the development of a single or a small pipeline of biotherapeutics. This has resulted in an impressive range of innovative products in development, often targeting conditions which conventional “small molecule” drug discovery projects have failed to adequately address.

While we are seeing growing engagement from ‘Big Pharma’, it is difficult to conclude that it has fully embraced the field. In 2018 we saw the first acquisition of a microbiome company, with the purchase of Rebiotix by Ferring. However, most Big Pharma is perhaps more tentatively venturing into the microbiome field via collaborations (eg, MSD and 4D Pharma, Takeda and Finch Therapeutics).

Is this a problem? Possibly not. However, what Big Pharma does have vast amounts of experience in is getting products approved and to the market. More engagement from Big Pharma may make it easier and faster to establish a “well-trodden” path to market for microbiome-related therapeutics, potentially making it easier for all in the field to get products to market. But what is most likely to tempt Big Pharma to engage even more with the microbiome field?

Pharma, microbiome, therapies, patents, HGF, Rebiotix, Ferring, MSD, 4D Pharma, Takeda, Finch Therapeutics, big pharma, Seroquel XR, AstraZeneca, Zimmerman