But, thanks to outsourcing, he does expect the number of new drug approvals to continue to rise. Many scientists who were hired by major firms in the 1980s, the heyday of the pharmaceutical industry, are nearing retirement age. “All those scientists—imagine, over 30 or 35 years, they accumulate a lot of knowledge,” Li says. He expects that, rather than retire, some of them will start their own drug research firms, relying on WuXi and other CROs to do much of the work.
Li may not know who among these scientists will be successful, but he’s confident that some of them will be. “Regardless if it’s about large molecules or small molecules,” he says, “the entry barriers have decreased so much.”I wonder if those small companies will hire American CROs, rather than Chinese. I suspect the Chinese will be competing on price and capacity... And in Ge Li's own words, more of his thoughts, including about concerns about intellectual property in China:
On protecting intellectual property (IP) at WuXi:
When people send their IP to us, they trust us. We now have 10,000 colleagues worldwide. Even if 0.01% are bad guys, something is going to happen to us. Right? So that’s why our three policies are very important. Prevention: We have 15 minutes a day every day to do a compliance meeting. Protection: We have a whole series of methods, such as cameras. We also have software that we developed to look at the behavior of individuals. And prosecution: You really want to go after the 0.01% of bad guys.I suspect the problem here is that there's not enough trust in the prosecution, and the negative incentives.