I continue to measure global biotechnology innovation in the sixth edition of Scientific American Worldview. This special publication is the foundation I use for my talks on global biotechnology (see my recent talk on Building Biotechnology in India).

I will be serving on a panel on June 26th at 12:45-1:45 in Room 3, and David Brancaccio, host of Marketplace Morning Report will be moderating a discussion with industry leaders at 2pm.

In addition to the comparative global biotechnology innovation scorecard which I edit, Worldview also includes subjective stories of global innovation, highlights of selected countries, and profiles of industry leaders.

I look forward to your comments and critiques — check out Scientific American Worldview at http://www.saworldview.com

Asian biotechnology innovation
Asian biotechnology innovation

My paper on global biopharmaceutical productivity has been published in the latest issue of Nature Biotechnology.

This paper is a refinement of my work ranking international biotechnology for Scientific American Worldview, and draws on the DrugPatentWatch database.

In this paper I investigate the locations of drug inventors, as measured by patents covering marketed drugs. The result, which may surprise many readers, is that the bulk of the innovation still occurs in the legacy pharma regions — Western Europe, the United States, and Japan.

I have many thoughts on why larger Asian countries like India, South Korea, and China demonstrate little innovation in biopharmaceuticals (and I’ve expressed these views at length in my talks, and here and here), and I have also published prescriptions for smaller nations.

Given the poor output of patents covering marketed drugs from countries such as China, one must ask whether vigorous pro-patenting policies (China leads the world in patent applications — but not in grants) are appropriate. Additionally, one must ask if Western metrics for innovation should be applied to other contexts.

To access the full paper (paywall), see http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v32/n6/full/nbt.2933.html

For more information on the DrugPatentWatch database, see http://www.DrugPatentWatch.com

bioentrepreneurship-bootcampThe back-issues of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology more than five years old are now free. For complete access, see the  archives at http://commercialbiotechnology.com/issue/archive.

The Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, in print since 1994, is the definitive international quarterly publication for bioscience business professionals. The Journal is designed specifically for those professionals who need to enhance their knowledge of biotechnology business strategy and management, improve and advance their product development or want to keep up-to-date with current issues and industry trends. It has been described as a “Harvard Business Review for biotechnology companies.”

Each issue publishes peer-reviewed, authoritative, cutting-edge articles written by the leading practitioners and researchers in the field, addressing topics such as:

  • Management
  • Policy
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Regulation
  • Bioethics

At the time of this posting, volume 15 number 1 and older are free. Check them out at http://commercialbiotechnology.com/issue/archive .

worldview-5-yearsSix years ago I built a global biotechnology innovation index, and I have been using it since tracking global biotechnology innovation in Scientific American’s Worldview. It has been a very rewarding project, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to present my research data at international conferences, business schools, and even National Defense University.

Some of the issues I am focusing on this year are economic recovery, agricultural biotechnology, and global biotechnology workforce intensity and mobility.

I am always looking for feedback on the index and new data sets to help expand it. I invite you to visit the scorecard at http://www.saworldview.com/wv/scorecard/ and send me your suggestions and feedback.

These infographics from DrugPatentWatch.com and BiologicPatentWatch.com track innovation and patent activity in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries:

Pharmaceutical Innovation Infographics

Upcoming drug patent expirations

Which Drugs Face Patent Expirations this Month?

Top selling drugs

What are the Top-selling Drugs?

Future drug patent expirations by month

How Many Drug Patents Will Expire in the Coming Months?

Upcoming drug patent expirations by year

How Many Drug Patents Will Expire in the Coming Years?

Which drugs have the most patents

Which Drugs Have the Most Patents?

Which pharmaceutical companies have the most drugs

Which Companies Have the Most Branded Drugs?

Which pharmaceutical companies listed the most drug patents last year

Which Companies Listed the Most Drug Patents Last Year?

Which pharma companies have the most drug patents

Which Companies Have the Most Active Drug Patents?

Which drug companies face the most patent expirations

Which Companies Face the Most Patent Expirations?

Which pharmaceutical companies recieved the most drug approvals last year

Which Companies had the Most Drug Approvals Last Year?

Which patents protect the most drugs

Which Patents Cover the Most Drugs?

Biotechnology Innovation Infographics

Upcoming biologic patent expirations by year

How Many Biologic Patents Will Expire in the Coming Years?

Which biologics have the most patents

Which Biologics Have the Most Patents?

Which biotechnolgy companies have the most approved biologics

Which Companies Have the Most Biologics?

Which biotech companies have the most biologic patents

Which Companies Have the Most Active Biologic Patents?

Which biologic companies face the most patent expirations

Which Companies Face the Most Patent Expirations?

Which biotechnology companies recieved the most biologic approvals last year

Which Companies had the Most Biologic Approvals Last Year?

Which patents protect the most biologics

Which Patents Cover the Most Biologics?

I programmed the DNA-o-gram generator over a decade ago as an excuse to learn web programming. In the intervening years it has been suggested as an encryption method, used as a teaching aid, and even cited in a law review.

The basis for the DNA-o-gram generator is quite simple. The genetic code found in all living organisms from bacteria to humans, uses DNA to encode for an alphabet of approximately 20 ‘amino acids’ which are assembled to make proteins, that do work. Despite coding for only 20 amino acids, the genetic code actually has 64 possible combinations — enough for a lower-case and upper-case alphabet, the numbers 0-9, a space and a stop character.

So, I developed the DNA-o-gram generator to illustrate how the genetic code can be used to encode regular words, and to illustrate how different kinds of mutations or reading errors can affect the decoded messages.

Check it out at http://www.thinkbiotech.com/DNA-o-gram/

The global locations of drug invention are important for public health, economic development, and national security reasons. Inventors tend to focus on diseases endemic to where they live. This is one of the problems of neglected diseases — there are few/no researchers working on certain diseases, which can lead to significant public health problems. Drugs are also excellent exports — fetching high prices and being relatively inexpensive to ship — so they can generate foreign currency enabling global trade. The individuals and companies involved in drug development tend to have high wages and revenues, building tax bases. Finally, weak innovative capacity can lead a country to be dependent on others to deliver medicines for domestic needs (see point #1 above) and to resolve health crises.

So, we know that much of drug development, such as medicinal chemistry, compounding, and clinical trials have spread overseas. We also know that much of manufacturing has spread to low wage-cost countries. The remaining question is: Where are drugs invented?

Using a methodology in introduced in my previous publication on the topic, I examined the locations of inventors listed on drug patents from 2000 through 2010 (source: DrugPatentWatch.com). The results are presented below:

1: The US is the global leader in drug inventorship, but is slipping

The top figure shows the relative contribution of each region’s inventors to the set of patents on drugs approved in each year. The data are all normalized, so you can see relative trends in each country’s contribution. The bottom figure below shows the same data, using lines to make it easier to  observe the trends. What is clear is that the US dominance is decreasing and Europe’s representation appears to be rising. The region of East and South Asia appears to be sporadically increasing its representation with it’s activity being mirrored by corresponding decreases in relative European inventorship.

2: Who is gaining?

With US relative inventorship dropping, and European inventorship showing volatility around a relatively flat trend, it is important to ask the question: Who is gaining inventorship as the US drops? One might assume that one or both of the emerging economies China and India are responsible for the increase in Asian drug inventorship, but the data do not support this assertion. The figure above shows the top ten countries where drugs were invented from 2000 through 2010 — China and India are not on the list. Rather, it is pharmaceutical veteran Japan, which has the third most inventors, that is responsible for Asia’s increase. What’s more, the top ten countries is largely comprised of the legacy pharmaceutical countries. That data show that there is no significant migration of pharmaceutical invention from the legacy pharma countries.

This metric represents a useful tool with which to monitor globalization of pharmaceutical innovation. There are two interesting observations that merit further examination. 1) Is there a correlation between the mild US decline and the growth of Japan? 2) Is there a correlation between the spikes in Japan’s relative inventorship and Europe’s sharp dips?

You can also get more detailed information on the complete set of drug inventors and where they live in my Global Drug Patent Inventor Report and Individual Country Drug Patent Inventor Reports.

What do you think of the findings? Are you surprised? Do you disagree? Sound off in the comments.

Journal of Commercial BiotechnologyI have selected these management-themed articles from the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, exploring the practical aspects of product innovation, R&D, patent law and marketing. The collection is divided into distinct sections: Commentary; Policy; Commercial Strategy; Valuation/Licensing; Funding; Intellectual Property; International; and Case Studies.

These articles are only fully readable for a limited period of time, so please feel free to read, download and forward them on to your colleagues while they are still available.

You can view the full collection on the Journal’s website: alternatively, the articles included in this collection are listed below:


Building biotechnology by design: Role of biotechnology in development
Patrick Nef

Why data exclusivity is the new patent protection
Peter J Pitts

The UK Government’s strategic approach to the biotechnology industry
Lord Sainsbury


Public–private partnerships in trust-based public health social networking: Connecting organizations for regional disease surveillance (CORDS)
Louise S Greshama, Leslie A Pray, Suwit Wibulpolprasert, Beverly Trayner

Building biotechnology in Okinawa
Yali Friedman

Startup America: What it includes and opportunities for innovators
David B Orange

Commercial Strategy

Revitalizing portfolio decision-making at Merck Serono S.A.
Vincent Aurentz, Bernhard Kirschbaum and Markus Thunecke

Rethinking commercial strategy – A patient-centered commercial model
Sanjay K Rao

Building biotechnology teams: Personality does matter
Anne S York, Kim A McCarthy and Todd C Darnold


Practical approaches to early stage life sciences technology valuations
Stephen Mayhew

Pharmaceutical royalties in licensing deals: No place for the 25 per cent rule of thumb
Nigel Borshell and Adrian Dawkes

Valuation of complex license contracts
Ralph Villiger and Boris Bogdan


R&D spending and sources of funding of private US biopharmaceutical firms seeking to go public
David R Williams and Richard W Pouder

Multiyear patterns regarding the relative availability of venture capital for the US biotechnology industry
J Leslie Glick

When should you fire the founder
William Bains

Intellectual Property

Dominating global intellectual property: Overview of patentability in the USA, Europe and Japan
Thomas J Kowalski, Antonio Maschio and Samuel H Megerditchian

Kinik: Raising the stakes for importing products derived from US patented processes practised abroad
Scott B Familant


Bioentrepreneurship in Japan: Institutional transformation and the growth of bioventures
Michael J Lynskey

Biotechnology in Cuba: 20 years of scientific, social and economic progress
Ernesto López Mola, Ricardo Silva, Boris Acevedo, José A Buxadó, Angel Aguilera and Luis Herrera

China 10-Point Patent Checklist: Integrating patents into an overall business strategy for a Western manufacturing entity in China
Catherine Sun, Sharon R Barner and Harold C Wegner

Commercial Case Study

Beacon Sciences: Commercialisation from biothreat detection to beauty enhancement
Rob Hanes, Damon Borich

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