Sanofi-Aventis has adopted a decentralized approach by setting up disease-based divisions, including a cancer-research unit, to accelerate the discovery of drug candidates and avoid failures in conducting clinical studies. "The fully independent unit, operating under the parent-company umbrella, is a break from the traditional big-pharma business model and represents companies' interest in duplicating the flexibility and cost-efficiencies of small biotech and biotech-like companies," said Ken Kaitin, director of Tufts University's Center for the Study of Drug Development.

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