This hardly sounds like independence. As the paper points out: The AZ "approach differs from what, until now, has been the industry's standard model - Roche's control of Genentech, which operates as an entirely separate entity."
AZ has created an executive R&D committee to coordinate work and encourage rank-and-file scientists on both sides to swap info regularly. Jan Lundberg, AZ's executive vp of discovery research, tells the paper that the drugmaker looked at the Roche-Genentech model and felt it could get more out of its MedImmune collaboration by sharing more ideas across company borders.
However, MedImmune will retain ceo Dave Mott, R&D chief Jim Young, and the company name. "It's important to have a name in the biotech industry," AZ ceo Dave Brennan tells the paper. "That identity is important for attracting and retaining people, and MedImmune is one of the marquee names in the industry."
But one source familiar with AZ management and their managerial style tells Pharmalot: "This will be the demise of MedImmune -AZ's bureaucracy will suck the soul out of the MedImmune folks, partially due to backstabbing. AZ R&D has never supported in-house, large-molecule research, and has no experience in vaccines, a specialty market largely driven by government contracting."
Getting the most out of MedImmune is crucial for AstraZeneca, the Journal notes. The drugmaker has suffered research setbacks and badly needs new productst. AstraZeneca will continue to concentrate on developing small-molecule drugs, which are made from chemicals, while MedImmune will focus on large-molecule drugs made from biological ingredients.
A new six-person R&D committee chaired by John Patterson, AZ's executive director of drug development at AstraZeneca, will meet regularly to set strategy for research, the Journal writes. The committee will help decide which disease targets both research groups will focus on, taking into account whether the disease would be better attacked with a small-molecule or large-molecule drug. A few AZ marketing officials will also sit on that board to help set marketing strategy for potential drugs at an early stage.