Country Report: Canada - Pharmaceutical Executive


Country Report: Canada

Pharmaceutical Executive


Mark Lievonen, president and CEO of Sanofi Pasteur Limited
Many in the industry agree that the creation of a pharmaceutical version of Bombardier, which would promulgate greater economic activity in Canada, is unlikely to happen except through consolidation. "Biotech companies are being acquired more quickly as big pharma seeks to add products to their sales and development portfolios," remarks Tony Cruz, Chairman and CEO of Transition Therapeutics. Transition, which in-licenses drug candidates to advance from Phase I and proof of concept (POC) to Phase II trials, offers big pharma a unique solution. "Big pharmaceutical companies need to broaden their pipelines, which is becoming their biggest expense. Transition's model is an easy way to mitigate their risk by outsourcing the broadening of their pipeline. They can now make better decisions having POC data available on additional drug candidates to reduce risk in prioritizing programs for later stage development."

Tony Cruz, Chairman and CEO of Transition Therapeutics
Gail Garland, CEO of the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO), states that "the development of procurement policies will encourage companies to stay and grow in Canada. Ontario companies are developed to become world exporters, but selling in Ontario and Canada will better contribute to their longevity here as Ontario-based companies." OBIO's Capital Access Advisory Program (CAAP) helps to develop and build the industry beyond seed-stage companies. In the field of medical devices, over 80 percent of locally made products are sold outside of Canada. "If the FDA approves a Canadian product, the producer will feel more comfortable selling that product in an American jurisdiction," remarks BD Canada's vice president and general manager North America Frank Florio. "Those integrated biases and long time relationships between multinational sales teams and doctors or administrators make it hard for a small local company to convince customers it has something more innovative that can deliver better value."

Youssef Bennani, site head and vice president of R&D at Vertex Canada
Mark Lievonen, president of Sanofi Pasteur Canada, says that Canada's challenge is translating research into products and services that attract investment in Canadian companies. "Canada needs to enhance its biopharma ecosystem through a mixture of multinationals, strong biotech companies, and home-grown success stories that can compete in the global market," Lievonen explains. "If Canada could develop ten biopharma companies with significant R&D and manufacturing capacity, each generating CAD 1 billion (USD 970 million) per annum, then you start to build a critical mass of large scale companies that can support and contribute to the overall ecosystem."

Quebecois creativity in innovation
Dr. Niclas Stiernholm, president and CEO of Stem Cell Therapeutics (SCT) acknowledges that there is great possibility for small biotech companies to become a division or a unit of a large pharmaceutical company. SCT is Canada's only public company dedicated to advancing cancer stem cell discoveries into novel and innovative cancer therapies. The company's focus on novel cancer stem cell therapies is further strengthened by the acquisition of Trillium in April 2013, a private biopharmaceutical company with a strong interest in cancer stem cells and immunology. Stiernholm, former CEO of Trillium, comments that Trillium was not going to sustain due to venture capital funds running out of patience, money and interest. "In order to continue its work, the best solution was to merge Trillium into a publicly traded company and raise money in the public market", he adds.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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