Drugmakers are increasingly collaborating with technology companies, medical associations, health systems, and other life-sciences companies in an attempt to better deal with a challenging drug-development environment.

There were 4,000 R&D partnerships between biopharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders, between 1995 and 2004, according to a recent report from Deloitte that was funded by PhRMA. In the decade after, the number of partnerships doubled to 9,000. Early stage partnerships, defined as those formed prior to a therapy entering clinical trials, also doubled: growing from 256 in 2005 to 578 in 2014.

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Neil Lesser, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, said that drug research is more challenging now due to three factors: the complexity of specialty drugs, the emphasis on new sources of data, such as patient-reported outcomes and real-world evidence; and the attention paid by  health plans and providers to a medicine’s value.

Of the 45 novel drugs approved by the FDA in 2016, 46% were for rare or orphan diseases; 36% were first-in-class medicines; and 25% were personalized treatments, according to Lesser.

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Interestingly, the report forecast that non-asset partnerships — collaborations designed to advance research that is not centered around a particular product or compound — are also growing. The number of these partnerships, which are sometimes referred to as joint ventures and consortia, went from 34 in 2005 to 334 in 2014.