As presented by the IFPMA "International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations", the pharmaceutical industry is increasingly using collaborative innovation models to overcome challenges in the research of new medicines for diseases affecting both the developed and developing world:

  • The medicine development process is becoming increasingly challenging and in order to address this, industry is thinking creatively about how to innovate more effectively.
  • Companies are increasingly working in partnerships and actively seeking expertise or technology from outside the company.
  • New collaborative platforms are facilitating research on "mainstream" diseases, "orphan diseases" and "neglected diseases".
  • In order to facilitate sustainable innovation, a collaborative platform needs to be voluntary, encourage Intellectual Property (IP) owners to contribute to the scheme and be flexible enough to adapt to a variety of different circumstances.

The medicine development process is becoming an increasingly expensive and difficult. An ever-stricter regulatory environment, coupled with new technological challenges is forcing industry to think creatively about its innovation and business models. In order to meet these new challenges, the pharmaceutical industry is working in collaboration with different players throughout the research and development cycle of new products.


This improved collaboration is taking place in many different ways. Companies are increasingly working in partnerships and licensing in and out technologies and knowledge instead of developing and keeping them in-house. This facilitates the dissemination of technologies and know-how to a much wider scientific community, while allowing industry to incorporate promising external research to its knowledge pool. This collaboration can take place amongst a large range of partners, like academia, public research institutions, Product Development Partnerships (PDPs) and small, medium and large biopharmaceutical companies.

In the innovative financing ways for the development of pharmaceutical products, IFPMA presents several kinds, two of them relating to the Product Develoment Partnerships (PDPs) and to the "Orphan Drug"-type mechanisms:

  • Product Development Partnerships (PDPs)
    A recent approach that has helped to increase R&D for neglected diseases is the product development partnership (PDP) model, in which stakeholders from the private, and non-profit public sectors may work together. Indeed, the majority of industry R&D projects for diseases of the developing world now involve collaboration with PDPs. Companies provide the R&D, technology, manufacturing and distribution expertise, with funding and logistical contributions from partners, such as governments or philanthropic organizations. Academic institutions are also involved in providing research capabilities and disease area knowledge. This cooperative tool is a crucial link in the process of bringing new discoveries to patients, particularly for those diseases that affect neglected populations, where there is little commercial investment.
  • "Orphan Drug"-type Mechanisms
    In the US, the EU and several other countries, "Orphan Drug Acts" have produced impressive results in terms of new drugs made available in disease areas where the number of patients is small and the return on R&D investment insufficient. Legislation or other mechanisms similar in spirit to these "Orphan Drug Acts", (e.g. the US Priority Review Voucher Scheme) could provide a favorable framework of financing incentives to increase R&D for drugs targeting diseases of the developing world. Such a package could include R&D tax credits, research grants, lower regulatory fees, or fast-track approval.