The recent J&J-Actelion deal is great for the pharmaceutical industry, reminding us all of how valuable the capabilities to continuously convert drug discovery activities into fantastic medicines really are.

As well as appearing on CNBC on the morning of the deal (video below) to explain this perspective, John Rountree was extensively quoted in Scrip’s analysis of the J&J/Actelion deal. John described Actelion’s strategy as “a great example of creating a structure to defragment R&D – companies that bring together science, commercial insight and medical skills on a continuous basis, like Actelion did and the R&D NewCo now will, rather than one-shot virtual biotechs”, adding “It will also power up Actelion’s commercialization by having a large and well-funded owner that has access to the important US capital market.”

John also raised the broader implications for the industry, saying “This case really challenges how to think about the value of R&D. It’s a great wakeup call to the industry of the value of really good research and development. And what it shows is that stock market analysts have traditionally not valued discovery assets or discovery capabilities within an organization, because it’s too far away timewise and it’s difficult to affix financial numbers to. The people who really can do strong drug discovery can free the drug discovery from the constraints of being tied to only certain therapeutic areas. That has been the ethos of Actelion – they will go out after where the mechanism of discovery takes them, which is a very powerful ethos in today’s pharmaceutical industry.”

John Rountree, Managing Partner at Novasecta, was today asked to provide commentary in an article in The Telegraph on the challenges of recruitment in the pharmaceutical sector following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. John stated that “we’ve been hearing quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that [pharmaceutical executives are] not so much worried about the technicalities of labour restrictions, such as filling in visas, but about a general feeling among their peers that they are not very welcome in Britain. People are looking at their futures and saying: ‘Is this a country I will be welcome in and where I will raise my family?’ I have heard examples of people that have turned down jobs because of this kind of malaise.”

John goes on to say that “R&D is about brains, motivation and ambition of your people, so when more than 50pc of them are EU citizens, that clearly has an impact on productivity. All of the UK-based companies I spoke to said they were having to reassure employees that they are still important to the organisation. One senior person was in the middle of a decision cycle. The company was European and looking at its UK footprint in terms of R&D. It has originally considered expanding its development activities here, but it had become less attractive to do so and the company may well revert to building development capacity in its home country of Italy.”