Each month, “Preferències” director and host Josep Maria Carrasco presents companies of special interest located at the PCB (Barcelona Science Park) on the RTVE Radio 4 channel. The radio show tackles all things innovative, from fashion to music, cinema to gastronomy, art to science.
On September 27th, SOM Biotech CEO Dr. Raúl Insa was invited to talk about the great effort pharmaceutical and biotech companies exert to design, develop and launch a drug to the market in terms of time and money; all the regulations that exist behind the process; and how Drug Repositioning can reduce time and costs, and increase the success likelihood.
Dr. Raúl Insa’s responses (summarized and translated to English):
On Drug Repositioning: In normal conditions, bringing a new drug to the market lasts about 12 to 15 years, costs around 1 Billion USD, and the success rate is about 2/10,000. All of this can be improved with drug repositioning, which means to find new indications for already known drugs. For this, SOM Biotech owns a computational technology based on artificial intelligence that is able to predict these new indications and a great intellectual team working to select the best candidates to be patented for the new use.
On intellectual property protection: Patents are really important but they expire. So after 20 years, the originator of a drug loses the market exclusivity and generics start to appear. What is really important is to recover the investment before the patent expiration date.
On companies focused on rare diseases: SOM Biotech and other small companies are mainly focused on rare diseases which, due to their low prevalence and low investment received, are supported by Health Authorities—in order for drugs to reach the market easily with an exclusivity period which lets the companies recover the investment.
On biotech company creation: Combining drug repositioning and rare diseases is a good option to obtain a treatment for patients and to see the investment recovery in a quicker way. And this is important because when you create a biotech company, you invest a lot of money without seeing its profitability in the first few years. This is why a lot of companies fail if they don’t find a good candidate to license and recover the investment and obtain some benefits.
On SOM Biotech’s programs: In the case of SOM Biotech, we have licensed a product for a rare disease called Transthyretin Amyloidosis and some private investors already recovered their investment and obtained benefits. Right now, we are conducting a clinical trial on Huntington’s disease patients and have a pipeline of rare diseases with unmet medical needs that we are willing to cover.
On Catalonia’s scientific business environment: In Catalonia there are many creative scientists and a big network of small and medium enterprises (SME), the problem is that investment is needed and the existing capital risk companies are not enough.
On SOM Biotech’s role in the Drug Repositioning industry: SOM Biotech is globally known in the biotech sector, as it appears on the 2017 Global Report of Drug Repositioning, as a highlighted company among Big Pharma Companies. However, repositioning is not well-known among the general population and sometimes it could be difficult to understand how a new company is able to find a new indication for an already known drug. This has an easy explanation and is related to the approach used to find this new indication. SOM Biotech’s approach is based on our computational technology.
Listen to the podcast (in Catalan) here.