In April 2005, Miles White, Abbott’s CEO, summed up the previous year’s performance in one word – “Excellent”. Five years ago, it was clear that the company would have to reposition itself yet again in order to ensure a future as successful as its past and to carry on Abbott’s legacy for all those who depend on the company – from patients to staff and beyond.
Abbott rationalised its business structure for focus and performance, pulling together the pieces of pharma business that used to be spread across different organisations. Today, Abbott is working as a global team and focusing its discovery resources on five integrated core therapeutic areas – immunology, infectious disease, diabetes/ metabolism, oncology and neuroscience/pain management. Abbott is driven by a straightforward purpose: to focus on serving patients with superior science across a broad base of technologies and businesses.
The company has an enviable robust pipeline, with a stream of drugs lined up for market introduction within the next few years and a total of 120 candidates in the advanced preclinical stage. Abbott has been achieving top-tier financial performance, and its success is being recognised – by industry observers, by its stakeholders, by its peers and by investors.
“Abbott’s mission is to create a top-tier global pharmaceutical business capable of consistently discovering, developing and marketing breakthrough drugs to improve patient health. This will deliver sustained double-digit sales and margin growth for Abbott.”
– Jeff Leiden
President and COO, Pharmaceutical Products Group, Abbot
Building Abbott’s Research and Development
In the past five years, Abbott has increased its R&D investment significantly. In 2004, Abbott spent $1.7 billion on R&D and there are more than 5,000 scientists and engineers at work, pushing the frontiers of its fields and developing products that fill the unmet needs of patients, healthcare professionals and consumers. Abbott’s investments are already producing results. In 2004, Abbott completed a number of significant development programmes. Its Pharmaceutical Products Group submitted seven regulatory applications to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for new medications – a record for Abbott.
Abbott’s science has been raised to a new level across its entire range of technologies and businesses and has challenged the company on all fronts.
Abbott has worked hard to build a world-class global R&D function in recent years, investing in advanced technologies that support faster discovery, development and approval of new medicines. Led by Dr Jeff Leiden, President and Chief Operating Officer of Abbott’s Pharmaceutical Products Group, Abbott took a strategic decision to Building Abbott’s Research and Development focus its R&D effort on fewer therapeutic areas for the more productive use of scientific resources.
“We’re focusing on developing breakthrough drugs rather than ‘me too’ drugs,” says Dr Leiden. The areas of focus narrowed from thirteen to five, concentrating on where the company has extensive expertise and where it can make the greatest impact in bringing forward important new medicines for patients.
Shorter R&D Timeframes
With a greater focus on quality going into the pipeline and optimising R&D processes, Abbott is already reaping the rewards with compounds coming through development in much shorter timeframes. Kaletra® (lopinavir/ritonavir), for example, was licensed for use in the UK only six years after it was discovered, and HUMIRA® (adalimumab) had been in development for only seven years when it received EMEA approval in 2003 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Within this new business framework, Abbott plans to launch five new products or additional indications in the UK over the next three to four years, which should boost sales at Abbott UK by around 70% by 2010.
The first half of 2005 has seen a number of impressive developments that demonstrate how far Abbott has advanced in recent years. In May 2005, Zemplar® (paricalcitol injection) was launched in the UK for the prevention and treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) in dialysis patients with end stage renal disease.
Three months later, the European Commission approved HUMIRA for the treatment of:
• severe, active and progressive rheumatoid arthritis in methotrexate naïve patients
• active and progressive psoriatric arthritis in adults when response to previous disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug therapy has been inadequate.
Over the next several years, Abbott expects to file for use of HUMIRA in Crohn’s Disease, ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine), psoriasis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
In the second quarter, Abbott submitted a supplemental New Drug Application to the FDA for the approval of a new, more convenient formulation of Kaletra to allow patients to take fewer tablets per dose as part of their treatment regimen. Following this, an application was made to the EMEA in June 2005 for this new formulation, which will not require refrigeration.
On the oncology front, Abbott received permission from the FDA to initiate an expanded access programme for XinlayTM (atrasentan) for men with metastatic, hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Xinlay is currently under FDA review and will be discussed at the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) meeting this September. Its potential benefit is also being investigated in other cancers, including ovarian, brain and renal cell cancers.
Abbott is completing its clinical development programme for Simdax® (levosimendan), a novel therapy for the treatment of congestive heart failure. All in all, an enviable programme of product development.
“We continue to believe Abbott’s pipeline remains under-appreciated.
– Bank of America Securities
Abbott is entering the 21st century as a dynamic company with much breakthrough innovation still ahead. Abbott sees its staff as critical components of its business and encourages the sharing of knowledge and interaction of disciplines, and it believes transparency and collaboration are key to industry success. Indeed, Abbott’s staff are the key to the pipeline’s success and pioneering spirit. Abbott’s strength comes from the three key determinants of success it sees in the years ahead: business breadth, superior science and taking action to help patients access its medicines. Now you know a little bit more about Abbott, and if you are interested in a career with the company, please call the HR Department on 01628 773355.
“We continue to believe Abbott’s pipeline remains under-appreciated.” – Bank of America Securities Shorter R&D Timeframes Pharmaceutical Innovation September 2005 Pharmaceutical Field 17 “. . . Abbott’s promising pipeline of experimental drugs and medical devices . . . should ensure double-digit earnings growth through 2007.” – Reuters
Now you know a little bit more about Abbott, and if you are interested in a career with the company, please call the HR Department on 01628 773355.