Drug makers are "defining a new contract with society" as they overhaul their R&D, according to the former head of the sector's trade body.
Richard Barker, who last week left the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry after six years at the helm, told The Daily Telegraph that the industry was "in the midst of a profound change."
"We're moving progressively from a model where most of the large companies did most of their research and development internally to an innovation ecosystem model," he said. "So it becomes increasingly important for the large companies to work closely with universities, research charities and small and medium-sized enterprises in the discovery adventure."
As drugmakers look to drive a better return on their research investment and shore up their pipelines, they have pared their in-house discovery and, in some cases, sought consolidation.
Barker said this was likely to continue, but added, "Mergers solve some problems, but not others. For example, they can make better use of commercial infrastructure. What it doesn't do is improve research and development productivity. What improves productivity is some of the new approaches, an ability or willingness to redesign the development process."