By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A big convention in Philadelphia is drawing executives, scientists, researchers and manufacturers from the pharmaceutical industry, and they’re looking for the next big thing.

CPhl North America is bringing together 12,000 attendees that represent the entire pharma eco-system, from early discovery to commercialization, under one roof at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

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The keynote speaker on day one, Dr. Magid Abou-Gharbia of the School of Pharmacy at Temple University, talked to the audience about what the future holds for discovering innovative drugs to treat various diseases.

He says drug companies are now more willing to partner with other companies and academic institutions, because of the tremendous costs involved in research and development.

“They can share the costs, and share the reward,” said Abou-Gharbia.

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He also sees Big Pharma increasing its pace in acquiring smaller companies with desirable pipelines, rather than developing therapeutics on their own, to increase the odds of success.

“Companies can go to biotech and acquire some of their assets, or their ideas.,” he said.

Dr. Abou-Gharbia advises the industry to front-load resources in the R&D process.

In his words, in “drug discovery, if you’re going to fail, fail early and fail cheaply.”

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