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When Beauty Meets Biotech

By: Marie Alice Dibon
Posted: September 3, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In fact, a speech given in 2001 by a top Amgen executive gloating over the fact that, a few years previous, annual biotech treatment costs of $10,000 per patient would shock many, but now (in 2001), treatment costs 10 times that amount—a staggering $100,000 per patient, per year—were easily accepted. This was short-lived, and biotech treatments costs such as these are no longer considered viable—or even ethical.

It was time for biotech companies to look for additional sources of profit.

And if the biotech industry hadn’t started to think in terms of out-licensing toward different industries, the beauty industry, on the other hand, was paying attention and preparing for its opportunity.

In 2001, P&G launched its Connect + Develop approach to external relationships with a strong focus on marketing ready-to-go innovations, and its acknowledgement that good ideas could come from a myriad of sources—outside the company, anywhere in the world and from any industry. This was quite a breakthrough for P&G, which had a long-standing reputation of working solely from within its walls. In 2003, Estée Lauder already had a biotech/beauty implementation plan, keeping a fairly tight watch over development in the field of biomedical research. And literature on the subject clearly showed that the line between biomedical treatments and skin care was getting blurrier by the day.

Suppliers were also gaining momentum toward making biotech a viable and lucrative addition to beauty. Vincience, since acquired by International Specialty Products, had notably produced a portfolio of actives and biotechnologies that made it clear that there were suppliers who meant serious business when it came to the incorporation of biotech in beauty ingredients.

Personal Experience—Witnessing Biotech and Beauty Merge