2013 looks great from top execs' perspective

Pharma just passed the worst patent cliff it has ever faced, payers are putting a vise to drug prices and a lot of people in the industry see significant shortcomings with what is happening in R&D. But many of the executives prowling the corridors and holding confabs at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this week viewed their own companies as well-positioned and saw a lot to like about what will happen this year.

Take Cubist Pharmaceuticals ($CBST) President Robert Perez, who told FiercePharma that an investor reminded him that in the early days the company was a good investment because it sold its antibiotic Cubicin directly to hospitals, which were the step-child of the industry. Few competitors aspired to that market. But as he sees it, hospitals are becoming the center of the new payer world in which total cost of care is key and Perez says Cubist knows that market intimately. "The world has turned and we are Cinderella now."

Clinigen Group showed up at the conference after pulling off last year something no other U.K. pharma company has done in the last 5 years: A successful initial public offering. It raised about £135 million ($217.9 million), some of which it will use to buy new products. Clinigen sources comparative meds for clinical trials and sells anti-viral medication Foscavir, but also has learned to negotiate country-specific regulations to sell unlicensed drugs in 53 markets. From the perspective of CEO Peter George, "That is pretty good intellectual property to have. There are not going to be many competitors."

Bravado and a positive outlook are expected of executives at an investor conference, but many saw opportunities in areas that often evoke general grumbling. Harald Stock, CEO of Grünenthal, a specialist in tamper-resistant pain drugs, said he came to the conference with two messages that he knew fell out of the mainstream view. First, he says, "I think Europe is still a great market and you can do good business there." Secondly, he dismisses skepticism around R&D. "Our reason to be in business is to innovate."

Take a look at the FierceMarkets slideshow from the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. -- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter)