Two Incompatible Truths

There is major news regarding the neurotherapeutics aspirations for two Big Pharmas, Roche and Bristol Myers Squibb. Roche has had sufficient success in two of the three programs whose outcome was to dictate their future course vis-a-vis CNS (gantenerumab and their mGluR5 depression program, the third program (GlyTi) results have not yet been reported publicly)- to proceed ahead at full speed. Meanwhile, Bristol Myers Squibb is essentially exiting the neuroscience area, management apparently concluding that neuroscience is not advanced enough to make drug development therein viable.

The two companies cannot both be right, and indeed, BMS is quite wrong. If they are, justifiably or not, dissatisfied with their inhouse science, they have the resources to go out and acquire ample innovation in CNS, and to become a prominent and successful player in the space. While they have oncology programs worthy of note and indeed excitement, no Big Pharma worth the title can elect to walk away from the largest areas of unmet need in all of medicine. BMS lost its nerve, and folded its CNS cards before the game had fully developed. This almost-complete but relatively late exit (compared to some of their peers) will provide their management with a relatively brief window of relief, followed by the dawn of regret.

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