The WSJ profiles "pharmaceutical scouts," who, like talent-spotters in baseball "trying to pick tomorrow's big-leaguers from farm teams," search outside their companies to find drug candidates that have the potential to become blockbusters.
In 2011, for instance, Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) Peter Lebowitz helped his company beat competitors such as Novartis (NVS) to buy the rights to a blood-cancer drug from Pharmacyclics (PCYC) called Imbruvica.
The treatment was eventually approved in November for a rare lymphoma and for chronic lymphocytic leukemia in February. J.P. Morgan forecasts Imbruvica will generate $1.3B in revenue for J&J in 2017.
Half of J&J's drug pipeline is from outside the company, up from 20% in 2002.