Grünenthal: driving innovative treatments in pain and beyond through collaboration and partnerships

In 2017 Grünenthal generated global revenues of €1.3 billion and signed around 50 partnering deals, positioning it as one of the leading companies to partner with for the development of pain therapeutics.

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Grünenthal offers a rare mix of characteristics that are desirable for innovation-led collaboration. This makes the company an attractive partner for organizations seeking to develop breakthrough treatments to improve patients’ quality of life. As a privately owned, mid-sized company specialized in ‘pain and beyond’ (for example, gout), Grünenthal has the scale and expertise of a large pharma company and the speed and flexibility of a small biotech. This places Grünenthal in a sweet spot that enables it to offer partners an unusual level of reliability and sustainability.

The positive partnering attributes of Germany- based Grünenthal are underpinned by its business. In 2017, the company generated revenues of €1.3 billion across more than 100 countries, positioning it as one of the global leaders in innovative pain treatments. Grünenthal has research and development (R&D) and production units in Europe and the Americas and 5,200 staff across 30 countries.

Grünenthal is aiming to build on this platform by bringing four or five innovative products to market by 2022. With that goal in mind, Grünenthal is invest- ing 20 percent of sales in R&D and is seeking new joint projects with strong partners to build on its track record of successful collaborations with organizations around the world.

What Grünenthal brings to partnerships

Grünenthal entered into approximately 50 partner- ships and deals in 2017. These included the acquisition of Zomig, a migraine treatment for approximately €200 million. This level of activity—and the significant scale of many of these partnerships—opens up an impressive range of opportunities for Grünenthal to share expertise and drive progress toward innovative treatments in ‘pain and beyond’, with the potential to make a real difference to patients’ lives.

The company has established an alliance management team that is responsible for ensuring open and regular communication with its partners throughout each project. This focus on open dialogue and active collaboration is a key component of Grünenthal’s approach to partnering. Grünenthal is seeking partners to codevelop R&D projects from its own pipeline. In this way, the company aims to strengthen its innovation activities in countries where its footprint is less significant, such as Japan or China.

As a privately owned, mid-sized company, Grünenthal can contribute to collaborative projects in ways that big pharma companies and small bio-techs find almost impossible to match.

Large, publicly traded pharma companies often have huge portfolios that are frequently reviewed and reprioritized. These reviews threaten the sustainability of partnerships. Big pharma companies drop out of partnerships at short notice or place investments on hold to improve quarterly financial results. Grünenthal is a more reliable partner because it has a smaller, focused portfolio. This means that when Grünenthal commits, it stays committed.

Grünenthal is also a more reliable partner than small biotech companies: these organizations may lack commercial products and therefore rely on external investment, which means their ability to invest in projects can quickly change if pipelines suffer setbacks or if the financial environment changes. Grünenthal’s size and product sales make it far less likely for the company to drop out of or deprioritize partnerships owing to financial volatility.

What Grünenthal expects from partnerships

These attributes have enabled Grünenthal to form successful collaborations with partners ranging from big-name pharma companies to small organizations specialized in pain. Grünenthal continues to follow this inclusive approach to partnering and is open to entering into projects with organizations that are committed to ‘pain and beyond’ and that want to form sustainable, creative and trust-based partner- ships in pharma and medtech.

This outlook applies to Grünenthal’s international operations, but its priorities vary from region to region. In Europe, Grünenthal is focused on pain but also open for ‘beyond’, for example, gout or inflam- mation. The company follows the ‘pain and beyond’ strategy in Latin America where it is one of the top three players in women’s health.

Having established itself as one of the top two pain companies in Europe and Latin America, Grünenthal is now stepping up its activities in North America to become the partner of choice for pain specialists, but has no plans to enter other target groups or therapeutic areas. Grünenthal is seeking partnerships that widen the portfolio of products that take advantage of its unique range of patient-centered technologies. This could involve the formation of joint development programs for product–technology combinations in the United States. Grünenthal has a particular interest in partnerships that produce extended, immediate or mixed-release technologies on a commercial scale.

Regardless of the geography, Grünenthal’s approach to partnering is the same. The company wants to form reliable, creative and trust-based partnerships that give all participants a chance to learn from each other, maximizing the value of relationships and increasing the chances of successful outcomes that improve quality of life for patients in ‘pain and beyond’. Grünenthal’s size, ownership and specialization mean it is particularly well-equipped to form such partnerships and contribute to a pain-free world.


Ralf Radermacher, Head of Corporate
Development & Licensing
Grünenthal Pharma GmbH & Co. KG
Aachen, Germany
Tel: +49 241 569 3954

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Our purpose is to change lives for the better. We believe that change is possible. We invest heavily in innovation, exploring new possibilities to develop smart solutions. Success comes from pioneering treatments that transform patients’ lives for the better. This measure of success drives everything we do.

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