Where should pharma go? Depends which CEO you ask

Three continents, three drugmakers, three lenses for viewing pharma's future. Which gives the clearest glimpse of Pharma Next? You decide.

Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez

In an interview with Fortune Management, Novartis ($NVS) CEO Joe Jimenez said the new pharma world calls for a new definition of the blockbuster drug. It's nothing earth-shatteringly new; the pharma industry has been leaning toward rare diseases and "niche-busters" for awhile. But Novartis is especially given to winning approvals first in a rare indication, and adding new, broader populations to the mix as time goes on. As if to illustrate his point, Novartis just won a new European approval for Ilaris: as a treatment for acute gouty arthritis. It's already approved to treat a set of rare inflammatory diseases known as CAPS.

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier

Meanwhile, Merck ($MRK) chief Kenneth Frazier took the opposite tack in a Q&A with the Associated Press. He said his company "is still committed to primary care," including a risky bet in Alzheimer's disease. He considers standing firm on R&D spending to be his biggest accomplishment since taking the helm two years ago, though that investment hasn't yet paid off (and generated plenty of criticism). In the near term, Merck is focusing on "the underlying growth" of its still--on-patent portfolio--and on emerging markets, where the company is growing quickly. Some 6 billion people live in emerging and developing markets, he points out. "It is the next chapter in this company's history," Frazier said.

And in one of those emerging markets, India, Daiichi Sankyo has been working to remake its generics unit Ranbaxy Laboratories. Not an easy task, considering the company has repeatedly bungled manufacturing since Daiichi came in 5 years ago. But the Japanese company--and the executives it sent to whip Ranbaxy into shape--have infused the Indian drugmaker with some of its own consensus-building, collaborative culture. Consistency, too, as pharma research chief Hidemi Minami tells the Economic Times. He's forced Ranbaxy into documenting and standardizing processes from R&D to manufacturing to marketing.

- read the Fortune Management story
- check out the Novartis release
- get the AP interview
- see the ET story