Portfolio -how many molecules do I need ?

There is a constant bang on about portfolio management in pharma .The belief is that there needs to be enough in the pipeline to handle attrition . I have for many years battled with people telling me we have to have a large early portfolio of projects in order to handle attrition .

Many scientists, business and developers are beavering away to analyse and determine numbers . The result is that often resources are spread far and wide to achieve this goal . In large companies I can understand that their historic data will “predict” that x number of compounds are required in the early portfolio to beat the odds and get something into the clinic . This is a scale phenomena . What I never really understood is as a biotech CEO with only one or two molecules how could the environment even let me exist ? I just don’t have a portfolio
My conclusion is it is mostly down to what are the levels of stringency placed around a molecule . As a big pharma guy clearly a molecule built to target rheumatoid arthritis and only rheumatoid arthritis means the goal is stringent , if it does not work they finish the project . For a biotech CEO the molecules are often just target or mechanism based piece of biology meaning that the indication or biology it is attacking is not stringent at all increasing the possibility of hitting a “gold seam”anywhere so entry numbers become irrelevant Or am I wrong ? This speaks to focus being the most important attribute to success , then being agile enough to recognise where the biology could fit in to really take on new opportunities .
So what of Flipism ?
In a cartoon Donald Duck meets Professor Batty, who persuades Donald to make decisions based on flipping a coin Life is but a gamble! Let flipism chart your ramble!” Donald soon gets into trouble when following this advice. He drives a one way road in the wrong direction and is fined $50. It let’s a coin do the thinking .
Perhaps in the complex world of drug targets and portfolio where there are so many moving parts and so many assumptions the Donald Duck method could work
Food for thought or Am I quackers!

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