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Pivotal 4pharma welcomes in 2011 (18/01/11)
A Happy New Year to all our friends and colleagues. Hopefully you enter 2011 refreshed and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. It’s hard to believe that Pivotal 4pharma is now entering its second year of business, with my time at AstraZeneca now becoming a dim and distant memory.

2010 was an eventful and successful first year for Pivotal 4pharma. Having being molly-coddled during my time at AstraZeneca, and Ros in her time at Syngenta, with IT and admin support close at hand and never more than a few minutes away, becoming self-sufficient (in all respects) and managing all those aspects of running a business (quotations, invoicing, tax, VAT, insurance, telephones etc ) were the first challenges to master. Fortunately Ros (who refuses to be beaten by any challenge) is far more adept than me at managing systems and IT etc, and took on all the business management aspects, ensuring that we were able to run smoothly and professionally as a company. Thanks very much Ros.

When Pivotal 4pharma set out, we were uncertain as to where the business would come from, and what types of work Pivotal would be employed for. 2010 was a year of steady business, which enabled me to meet and work with new people, and to provide services to a wide range of companies, from big pharma to smaller single product companies. Work received ranged from providing strategic advice to an advertising agency putting together a pitch for new breast cancer business, reviewing the literature on chemotherapy induced hair-loss, through to updating existing medical information Q and A’s for a number of breast cancer products. One key thing learnt was that it is vital to maintain visibility and continue to network, even at times when you are very busy. During November and December I took advantage of a quieter period to focus on business development , which I am pleased to say is starting to pay dividends, with new exciting projects starting to come in. But there is still space available in the diary for 2011, so if you have any potential projects you would like to discuss, just give us a call or send through an email.

Another area of uncertainty when we set out, was whether focussing solely on the breast cancer area was the best strategy to adopt. The decision to focus on breast cancer was based on my huge wealth of experience in this area, meaning this was where we believed Pivotal 4pharma could add best value to clients. We also saw breast cancer as remaining the major growth area in oncology globally - hence breast cancer medical-marketing knowledge and expertise would continue to be required for the foreseeable future. During the first year, 90% of our business came from the breast cancer area, and given the major continued investment in this area, breast cancer will continue to be our major focus. However, breast cancer shares much commonality with other areas of cancer, and much of the Pivotal 4pharma expertise is transferable across other tumour-types – for this reason we would be happy to consider business opportunities across the oncology disease area as a whole.

In December I attended the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS). It was great to go back to San Antonio. Last year was the first year I had not attended for many years, since it fell within days of me finishing at AstraZeneca. I have always considered SABCS to be the premier breast cancer conference, and once again it did not fail to disappoint. Whilst there was no absolute new phase III, practice-changing data presented at the 2010 meeting, there were many important updates and educational sessions, and high quality presentations around new approaches to breast cancer treatment. There was data presented in the submitted abstract sessions on a total of 111 compounds, in studies and trials ranging from the pre-clinical animal models through to phase III clinical trials. Tamoxifen continues to feature heavily in research, especially related to the CYP 2D6 issue, and perhaps not surprisingly drugs such as bevacizumab, trastuzumab, lapatanib, capecitabine, taxanes, and the aromatase inhibitors to feature highly in the sessions. The interest in the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer continues to gain momentum, with over 40 abstracts dedicated to this topic. The combination of endocrine therapies with growth factors and targeted agent s continues to be subject to much research, with new data being presented on fulvestrant + lapatanib, fulvestrant or exemestane + AMG479 (an Insulin like growth factor receptor blocker), the most positive findings being seen in a phase II trial of tamoxifen + everolimus in HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer. It was interesting to see a potential re-invention of metformin; well known for its use as a treatment of type II diabetes, there were 7 abstracts investigating metformin in breast cancer. Finally, in addition to drug treatments, the impact on life-style factors on breast cancer risk continues to be of high interest, with nearly 20 abstracts investigating the impact of BMI or obesity and exercise on breast cancer risk. If anyone would like further insights into San Antonio and other products covered, please get in contact.

In addition to the scientific programme, it was great to meet up with old colleagues and many of the doctors with whom I have worked with in the past. Certainly, the breast cancer area continues to push forward in terms of researching new compounds and evermore sophisticated use of new markers and diagnostics, which will hopefully lead to further improvements in patient care in the future. I am already looking forward to attending SABCS again next year, and it will be great to see some of you there.

So what for the forthcoming year? My attendance at the St Gallen breast cancer conference in March is already booked and I look forward to attending other congresses. We are excited about some of the forthcoming projects upon which Pivotal 4pharma will be working and I am looking forward to visiting other potential clients in the next few weeks. Signing off for now, but as mentioned earlier, Pivotal 4pharma is happy to discuss your medical-marketing needs with you, on projects big or small. Our contact details are clearly identified on this website.

All the best to you all for a successful and exciting 2011
Tim Sheldon
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Pivotal 4pharma provides strategic and tactical medical communications and marketing expertise.