En esta entrevista Nadia Badri aborda la importancia de la colaboración entre la industria farmacéutica y las Administraciones para poder impulsar la innovación y sostenibilidad del SNS. Destaca en este sentido los Acuerdos de Riesgo Compartido como una herramienta que facilite el acceso de los tratamientos a los pacientes.
El Modelo de innovación de PharmaMar se basa en la fuente de la que extraen ideas y soluciones, el mar. Este concepto de “Blue Biotechnology” se fundamenta en identificar moléculas sintetizadas por microorganismos marinos, siendo esta vía una clara oportunidad para abordar nuevas terapias para el cáncer. Una vez identificada la posible droga, ésta se sintetiza de forma química en el laboratorio para preservar y conservar la vida marina.
Los principales retos para PharmaMar son anticiparse a las tendencias del mercado oncológico, y adelantarse a los competidores desarrollando estrategias que mejoren el acceso de los tratamientos a los pacientes así como la optimización de costes.
Pharma Market: In Spain we are now facing some big challenges, one of them is financial. Do you think it is possible to maintain our actual Health System?
Nadia Badri: Indeed. I believe that Spain is currently facing enormous challenges, but I am also confident that the Spanish National Health System can be sustainable in the future. To make this possible, the percentage of GDP that Spain allocates to public health, which represents 1%, is nowadays among the lowest within the EU, and should therefore be revised. Furthermore, other measures, including the optimization of the existing health management system should be adopted, seeking new more flexible and efficient strategies.
PhMk: In your opinion, what are the key levers to boost R+D+I?
N.B.: In General, Spain lacks a proper R&D culture, which basically underscores a cultural and educational issue. Thus, one of the key levers for the future is implementing an educational system to truly foster R&D. A firm commitment to research by both the Administration and the financial system is also crucial, so they facilitate the access to funding and ensure an effective legal certainty that can guarantee that long-term R&D projects are not affected by short-term visions.
PhMk: Innovation is a key issue for Pharmaceutical industry. What can payers and pharmaceutical industry do, to ensure patient access to it?
N.B.: The relationship between payers and the pharmaceutical industry is changing. Both parties know they need to reach agreements to support both innovation and sustainability. In Spain, they are already moving forward in this direction, as exemplified by the Risk Sharing Agreements.
PhMk: When pharmaceutical industry talks about “innovation”, it´s usually about new mechanism of action; when you listen to payers they talk about health results, but patients say what they also need is health services. How does PharmaMar go beyond the pill?
“A firm commitment to research by both the Administration and the financial system is also crucial, so they facilitate the access to funding and ensure an effective legal certainty that can guarantee that long-term R&D projects are not affected by short-term visions”
“The relationship between payers and the pharmaceutical industry is changing. Both parties know they need to reach agreements to support both innovation and sustainability. In Spain, they are already moving forward in this direction, as exemplified by the Risk Sharing Agreements”
N.B.: Identifying new mechanisms of action is just the beginning of developing therapies that will provide improved clinical outcomes. Better targeting cancer cells allows you to increase the efficacy while maintaining an adequate safety profile to provide a good quality of life, which is fundamental for cancer patients. Medical education of both medical professionals and patients is part of PharmaMar´s goals. Providing clinicians with updated scientific and clinical information helps them be up-to-date on how to better use treatments. We work with patient associations to share content that can be of use to patients and their families, so they know what to expect and they better understand their disease and how to cope with their condition. The Company works also very closely with the Administration to ensure patient access to treatments and a timely supply to medical centers.
N.B.: PharmaMar has become a fully integrated company from R&D to the market, and this has been possible, in part, because of our business model. One of our differentiating characteristics is the root of our research and our products, the sea. Another feature is that even though we are a biotech, we are a profitable company. This has been the result of successfully forming a sales force all over Europe that commercializes our first drug approved in the EU, YONDELIS®, and establishing important partnerships worldwide. We also have a robust pipeline of investigational drugs that are showing remarkable clinical results in different tumor types that are currently under investigation. An efficient and smooth-running organization that aims to optimize every process has made this possible.
PhMk: On your press releases you mention the concept of “Blue Biotechnology”. What is the meaning of it and how does Pharma-Mar develop it?
N.B.: Blue Technology is concerned with the exploration of the diverse marine organisms to develop new products, which is engrained in our drug development process. We have developed a self-sustained pipeline by developing an anticancer drug discovery platform to identify molecules that are synthesized by marine macroorganisms, which is an invaluable source of novel compounds. This way we find new drug candidates that open innovative ways to tackle cancer. We use tiny amounts of samples from the sea to discover potential molecules that we then synthesize chemically in-house, taking advantage of our robust expertise in medical chemistry. Our drug development process also allows us to comply with the regulation of marine biodiversity and to fully respect the marine environment. We have successfully identify various molecules in nature—one of them already on the market as an anticancer drug for two different types of cancers—that we have developed into drug candidates. Our platform in-house to chemically implement the natural molecules allows us to develop improved drug products that can better target tumor cells.
“Medical education of both medical professionals and patients is part of PharmaMar´s goals”
PhMk: What are the most important advantages and opportunities of the PharmaMar business model, related to discovering and developing new molecular entities?
“We are leaders in the development of anticancer drugs of marine origin, because our drug discovery process starts the moment our marine scientists identify the new species that will allow us to identify novel molecules”
N.B.: We use our drug discovery platform to identify new ways to tackle tumor cells so we can delay or even halt cancer progression. Our model is utilizing what is offered by the marine ecosystem, which is the richest source of molecules. We are identifying new targets that otherwise would have been very difficult to envision. This not only complements what other pharma companies develop, but it also positions PharmaMar at a different level, as we are developing our own classes of drugs. Our first-in-class compounds are innovative molecules that are proving to be effective and feasible in the clinic, and that can open new lines of investigation in cancer research as they pinpoint new drug targets. We are leaders in the development of anticancer drugs of marine origin, because our drug discovery process starts the moment our marine scientists identify the new species that will allow us to identify novel molecules. This expertise, which starts at 100 meters below sea level, permeates the entire team of PharmaMar so every step of the way we have the knowledge to advance a potential molecule into an effective and safe anticancer drug to improve patients’ lives.
PhMk: What are the most important pathologies in which PharmaMar invests more? Why?
N.B.: We are currently strengthening our expertise in rare and difficult-to-treat cancers. So far our drug YONDELIS® is indicated for two types of cancer: soft tissue sarcoma and ovarian cancer, which are challenging from a therapeutic standpoint. Those cancers that are not as prevalent as other tumors remain an unmet medical need, and we work to discover new drugs that can address the needs of these patients. Currently, we have a strong clinical program in small cell lung cancer. Although this disease represents 15-18% of all lung tumors, it is a devastating disease that remains a major public health concern worldwide and that lacks effective treatments. We hope we can soon contribute to the clinician´s toolbox so they can tackle this hard-to-treat cancer.
PhMk: Having in mind your pipeline what are the most important medical challenges and trends of PharmaMar for the short-term?
“It will be important for us to anticipate future trends in the oncology market and better understand the approaches of our competitors to be up-to-speed on developing strategies to improve patient access and optimize costs”
N.B.: I believe that speeding up our development process and foreseeing how market access will be addressed in the current economic setting in both developed and emerging markets will be crucial. It will be important for us to anticipate future trends in the oncology market and better understand the approaches of our competitors to be up-to-speed on developing strategies to improve patient access and optimize costs.
La clave del éxito:
As a medium-size biopharmaceutical company, we have the flexibility to establish well-developed strategies without delay to meet the demands of a competitive market. In contrast to big pharma, we can exploit this capacity to adapt to unexpected changes and tackle challenges that suddenly arise, leveraging the streamlined communication between departments. This sense of teamwork allows the Company to cope with various challenges in due course and to implement the same strategy across different areas.