21 May 2013

Investing in science is our key principle

Find a molecule for each

Rafael Mardanov, Rossiyskaya GazetaThe slogan of the pharmaceutical company Ipsen is "Innovation in the name of health".

How is it implemented in practice? What are today's studies aimed at? Executive Vice President, Director of Science Claude Bertrand and Executive Vice President, Executive Director Christophe Jean answered the questions of "RG".

– Which of the areas of innovation activity is the main one for your company?Claude Bertrand: The future of our company is connected with innovation, there is no doubt about it.

For example, last year research and development expenses reached almost 250 million euros, which accounted for more than 20% of Ipsen sales. And this is despite the fact that the company already has innovative products in its portfolio that make it possible to achieve great success. In addition to innovation, the second key factor in the activities of our employees is differentiation. It involves the creation of technologies that differ from those of competitors and meet the urgent needs of medicine. I will give a concrete example with our drug used in the early stages of cancer. We decided to use it not to fight the tumor, but to influence the tissues surrounding it, thereby blocking the growth of the tumor and metastases. This is a fundamentally different approach to the treatment of cancer, which has not existed to this day.

Another point that needs to be said in line with differentiation. For us, it consists in choosing two high–tech directions - peptides and toxins. Our company works with precision and quality in these fundamentally different areas of high medicine. All innovations, research and investments are aimed at them.

– There is an opinion that every year the search for new molecules becomes more and more difficult and expensive process, and it becomes more and more difficult to achieve a return on investment. Will it ever have to stop this activity altogether?Claude Bertrand: Of course not.

Two years ago, when the new president of the company, Marc de Garidel, came to us, we had very serious discussions on the topic of the future: should we continue the strategy of investing in innovation? And it was recognized that this is the only way to survive in a highly competitive world. Currently, translational therapy (from diagnosis to treatment) is being introduced as a key principle in the research work of our company. It is aimed at providing targeted treatment, precisely selected and adapted to the pathological process detected in the patient. Its purpose is also in a more thorough analysis of the disease from the very beginning, so that the choice of therapy occurs faster, and its effect can be evaluated. Translational therapy tools are introduced into the process at the earliest stages in order to provide a link between the biological target, potential drugs and the design of clinical trials in the study of various biomarkers.

– We are promised that the age of personalized medicine is just around the corner. It is believed that this is the milestone beyond which the time of Big Pharma ends and the era of small firms begins. Your opinion?Christophe Jean: Small pharmaceutical companies will never be able to replace Big Pharma, although they will develop.

They have their advantages: it is easier for them to adapt to changing realities, they are more manageable, faster, initially focused on some specific areas in biotechnology. On the other hand, Big Pharma companies also have to evolve and change. How exactly, hardly anyone will say about it now. But the process of evolution, differentiation is underway. For example, everyone understands that the cycle of new drugs in Big Pharma is very long, and a number of companies have decided to change their development strategies. Some focus their research on niche segments, while others focus on creating new divisions for biotechnological drugs. Someone decides to develop in all directions, and someone switches to prescription drugs... However, even without personalized medicine, the market structure has been undergoing significant changes over the past 5-10 years. Now it looks like this: there are prescription drugs, OTC (over-the-counter) drugs and a large generic market. The producers of the latter do not invest in R&D, and all their concerns are related to production and the cost of production. The "recharge" of generics (as well as over-the-counter drugs) comes at the expense of original drugs – as a rule, prescription drugs. And if there are no innovations in the world of original drugs, there are no generics

Claude Bertrand: The research itself when creating new drugs does not require so many people, time and money, they spend about 1/3 of the innovation budget. While development is the most significant, complex and costly part of the work. Much more resources are involved in examinations, clinical trials, etc.

– Are your company's plans to cooperate with Russian research centers?Christophe Jean: We are looking for the most suitable opportunities for cooperation in the field of production.

We need a reliable partner with production facilities in accordance with GMP standards, to whom we could give part of the production process of a particular product.

Claude Bertrand: According to research projects, two programs can be distinguished: a study that covers Russia, France and China and is aimed at improving the understanding of the clinical signs of endometriosis and the factors associated with the development of this disease. Secondly, a clinical trial of the fourth phase of our drug for the treatment of prostate cancer will soon begin in Russia.

– Since we are talking about biological products, how do your company treat the problem of their interchangeability?Christophe Jean: The topic of biosimilars or biosimilars is not simple and extensive.

In short, I will limit myself to the following: even if the manufacturer of the original biological product moves its production to another place (another country), it will take at least three years for technologists to achieve similarity with the original. There have already been such cases in the world pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, proof of the complete therapeutic equivalence of analogues is a prerequisite for ensuring quality treatment of patients.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru21.05.2013

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