The relevance and importance of business development and licensing in the biopharmaceutical industry.
The importance of the business development and licensing (BD&L) function in the global biopharmaceutical industry has grown significantly over the past 20 years as pharmaceutical companies have sought to supplement their internal R&D with innovative products and technologies sourced from biotechnology and drug delivery companies. This has required companies to employ BD&L executives to search, evaluate, negotiate and alliance manage deals ranging from small biotechnology companies to the largest of the Big Pharma companies. Nowadays all the large companies have BD&L teams, sometimes in excess of 100 people. To inform new BD&L entrants and to improve the professionalism of the experienced BD&L executives, various training courses are offered by not-for-profit associations and commercial organisations. The leading not-for-profit association in Europe for biopharmaceutical executives is the Pharmaceutical Licensing Group and in the US it is the Licensing Executive Society. Both organisations offer basic training courses but as far as is known, the only university accredited Master’s degree qualification in BD&L is the distance learning MSc offered by the University of Manchester. The dissemination of specialist knowledge and best practice is through the journals and conferences of the professional associations. The need for well-qualified BD&L executives in the biopharmaceutical industry is demonstrated by the fact that 25% or more of Big Pharma sales come from third party products and the cost of licensing deals alone is over $200m on average.