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ACS News

Merck & Co. Hosts Pharma Leaders Meeting

by Susan J. Ainsworth, special to C&EN
January 25, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 4

Credit: Susan Ainsworth
Pharma Leaders Meeting attendees participated in discussions about precompetitive collaborations.
A man gives a powerpoint presentation to a room full of people.
Credit: Susan Ainsworth
Pharma Leaders Meeting attendees participated in discussions about precompetitive collaborations.

For the 13th consecutive year, the ACS Pharma Leaders Meeting brought together the pharmaceutical industry’s chemistry research leaders to discuss issues and challenges of common concern.

Executives representing 12 companies attended the meeting, which was held Oct. 22–23, 2015, at Merck & Co.’s Rahway, N.J., facility.

Coorganized by Merck and ACS Industry Member Programs, this year’s meeting was again aimed at exploring areas of mutual interest and possible collaborations on precompetitive and noncompetitive issues.

With the common goal of accelerating drug development, the group explored the possibility of creating a consortium to share chemical building blocks and the potential benefits of sharing or commercializing tool compounds—highly selective chemical probes that help researchers determine the biological function of a given target.

Attendees also discussed the issues surrounding the creation of precompetitive compound collections. They deliberated over the scope of such an effort, ways to find noncompetitive space, and intellectual property considerations.

Another discussion centered on how companies within the pharma industry can collaborate and share structural data and computational model information without compromising their intellectual property. As part of these conversations, attendees asked if the pharma industry could do more to enable biotech firms, start-ups, and academics to help them boost discoveries. At the close of the conference, attendees created a list of actions and timelines aimed at addressing the proposed precompetitive collaborations forged during the event. As a neutral third-party convener, ACS will help facilitate these postconference activities.

During the conference, 2015 ACS President Diane Grob Schmidt and ACS Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Connelly emphasized ACS’s commitment to supporting industry and industrial chemists and chemical engineers through the society’s newly enhanced Industry Member Programs. These programs include a recently revamped ACS Industry Insights newsletter, a new Industry Voices blog, industry-focused webinars, and networking events, summits, and other programming.

The next Pharma Leaders Meeting will be hosted by AbbVie on Oct. 13–14.

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