BVGH: Bringing Innovation to Neglected Disease R&D




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Video title: BVGH: Bringing Innovation to Neglected Disease R&D
Released on: July 18, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at #BIO2012 Convention in Boston, Fintan Walton talks to Don Joseph, CEO of BioVentures for Global Health about the role of BVGH and their new report, 'Biotechnology: Bringing Innovation to Neglected Disease R&D' http://www.bvgh.org/Biopharmaceutical-Solutions/Data-Center/BVGH-Reports/2012-Biotech-Report.aspx.
Mission of BIO Ventures for Global Health (Bringing innovation to neglected diseases R&D)
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO in Boston, in 2012. On this show I have Don Joseph, who is CEO of an organization called BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), welcome.
Donald R. Joseph:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Your organization BIO Ventures for Global Health is a not-for-profit organization, it's aim is to make sure that neglected diseases are no longer neglected as I understand that, so could you tell us about the foundation of that organization and it's true mission?
Donald R. Joseph:
Sure, and happy too. We actually started BIO Ventures for Global Health as a part of BIO, so we are definitely interested in making sure that neglected diseases get the attention they deserve and specifically what we are shooting for is getting more biopharmaceutical industry engagement in that fight and so beginning as a part of BIO and later spun out to be an independent non-profit organization we carry that out through two basic ways, one is we try to provide information to companies to help them learn more about global health and neglected disease work and we work on incentives, so motivational tools consistent with the business model that will enable and allow companies to spend time in resource against these non-commercial opportunities.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so in the end are you harnessing what may already be inside a pharmaceutical company, but may not yet have been in a clinical program which could result in the neglected disease been targeted for potential new therapies?
Donald R. Joseph:
That's exactly it, we are trying to bring the power of innovation from biotech companies, and pharmaceutical companies, and diagnostic companies to the neglected disease work that's so far has not seen the benefit as much of that type of innovation.
BVGH's list of neglected diseases
Fintan Walton:
Right, and in terms of defining a neglected disease, I mean obviously there is lots of organizations like the World Health Organization, et cetera, which can help you I suppose to identify those diseases, what is your disease list look like?
Donald R. Joseph:
We have a very precise list and it's based on the WHO list of 19 neglected diseases and we add two more, malaria and tuberculosis . So those two although we considered them and many people do considered them to be neglected as such are not on the WHO list, that list comprises diseases that you are probably less familiar with chagas disease , lymphatic filariasis , sleeping sickness , river blindness things of that nature and it goes down the list from there in terms of being more and more obscured, but having a disproportionate effort on the poor people of the world.
Working closely with other not-for-profit organisations
Fintan Walton:
Right, and your organization as I said earlier I suppose fits alongside many other not from profit organizations who have a similar mission, the Bill Gates Foundation for an example is one example, so I suppose in some ways you are looking for collaboration with pharmaceutical companies but you must have to work also with other organizations to be really effective in the end?
Donald R. Joseph:
We do indeed and you've mentioned the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation they are currently our biggest supporter. We also get support from a number of pharmaceutical companies that we work with in a separate project. We work closely with a group of non-profit companies called or organizations called Product Development Partnerships, groups like Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Medicines for Malaria Venture these are groups actually developing products for the neglected diseases, our work is a little more environmental so to speak and we encourage that type of effort and collaboration and really try to bring together the non-profit groups with the for profit companies that have the innovation available.
Relationship with BIO and funding support by Bill Gates Foundation
Fintan Walton:
So in terms of your own organization how is that funded in relation to well you said it's a spin out or an association of closely tied to BIO?
Donald R. Joseph:
We are no longer tied to BIO, although Jim Greenwood, the President of BIO is on our board we are thrilled to have him and the former President of BIO Carl Feldbaum is our Board Chair, but we are not structurally a part of BIO and we did recently co-author a report and work together with BIO that we've just announced here at the convention to talk about biotech engagement and that's the kind of thing we do together. Our primary funding support comes from the Gates Foundation and again our separate funded project is called WIPO Re:Search, a knowledge sharing and IP sharing correlation among pharmaceutical companies, academics, and others working with neglected disease researchers.
BVGH's report on biotech engagement and opportunities in negelected diseases R&D
Fintan Walton:
Excellent, very interesting. And I suppose it comes back down to this recent report that you've just released actually, could you tell us about that report and what does it reveal?
Donald R. Joseph:
Sure, so that report is based on the work that we do to track the disease pipelines, the R&D pipelines across the group of neglected diseases that we talked about, and we take that pipeline and we took a deeper dive and looked at the extent of actual biotech engagement in this neglected disease research and development or R&D and what we found is really interesting and not exactly what we would have expected what we found is that there are a 191 of almost 490 separate projects that have a biotech partner, so almost 40% of current projects have a biotechnology partner involved in that effort, that represents about a 134 different companies and so that was a much broader engagement than we would have thought the biotech industry because of its small company nature and the strain for resource. The other side of that coin though is that represents only about 5% of the biotech industry and so there the opportunity and this is really what opened our eyes also from the report the opportunity is huge for other biotech companies to bring their unique capabilities and innovation into this fight against neglected diseases.
BVGH's efforts for improvement in biotech engagement
Fintan Walton:
So for those biotechnology companies that you are asking to come in into this and at least consider some of their products that could be applied to neglected diseases, obviously there is a moral element to this, ethical elements to this, but is there a way in which this can actually help themselves ultimately be commercially successful?
Donald R. Joseph:
There are lots of ways where it's helpful and we talk to companies about this all the time. So for example in the emerging markets which are more and more are part of the world economy and more and more important there are relationships to be had there with governments, with research entities, with commercial suppliers and providers within country that can be flushed out and facilitated for your commercial effort if you bring your innovation to a neglected disease effort. In addition one of the main things we hear all the time is that company employees are much more they are much happier, they are more motivated to work on these desperate diseases that needs so much help, so it makes you feel good most of us are in this business to have an impact.
Fintan Walton:
I suppose one of the again going back to neglected disease I suppose one of the problems we have with neglected diseases is that the amount of knowledge that we have or aware of the diseases but were not aware of the where those diseases are most prevalent, but also at a government level within those particular countries what efforts has been done currently within those particular territories and how knowledge about those neglected diseases, and the prevalence, and the political systems behind them must provide additional confidence to a biotech company or pharmaceutical company about how they can attack and applicate a neglected disease?
Donald R. Joseph:
We hear that all the time, but the two biggest problems or barriers to biotech engagement in neglected disease were are financial incentives and the lack of information, and so your point is exactly right, what we try to provide through our Global Health Primer which is an online available tool for everyone to see is to track all of the R&D effort underway, all the product, potential products underway for particular disease can be found on our website and that really begins the kind of analysis that most companies go through as they think about entering a new territory, or a new disease, or a new effort, so we're trying to kick start that effort with our information that we make freely available.
Future plans
Fintan Walton:
Okay. I suppose finally Don is the report had just come out, what lessons are there and what is it tells about the future?
Donald R. Joseph:
Well quickly the three things that we think are really important from that report are, number one that biotech engagement is actually much wider than we expected, so we are encouraged and very excited about that. As I mentioned the second point is that the opportunity is still huge for the other 95% of the industry to bring their skills and capabilities, so we finished our report with some recommendations not only for biotech companies on how to get more engaged but for global health stakeholders because it have to work together. Our message is you have to work together to solve these problems no one government, no one company, no one entity can solve there on their own, so we are here to encourage partnering and collaboration to tackle these dreaded diseases.
Fintan Walton:
Don Joseph, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Donald R. Joseph:
My pleasure.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Donald R Joseph
CEO
At the time of recording this PTV interview Donald R. Joseph serves as CEO of BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH). Donald R. Joseph was named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) in February 2012. Mr. Joseph served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for BVGH from April 2010 " January 2012. Mr. Joseph brings to the organization a wealth of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Before joining BVGH, he served in senior executive positions in both legal and business roles at private and publicly held biopharmaceutical companies including Renovis and Abgenix, where he played a key role in its acquisition by Amgen. He has consulted for a number of biopharmaceutical companies and previously served as COO of the Institute for OneWorld Health, a non-profit pharmaceutical company devoted to developing new and affordable medicines for neglected diseases. Mr. Joseph has extensive business and legal experience, with more than 15 years in the biopharmaceutical industry. His industry projects have included a wide array of commercial, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, collaboration, and financing transactions, while providing business guidance for R&D, product launches, and sales and marketing. His therapeutic areas of experience include neurology, oncology, and antibody technology, as well as malaria and infectious diseases. His operations experience includes involvement with many marketed products in addition to research, preclinical, and clinical development of a number of products and technologies. Prior to entering the biopharmaceutical industry, Mr. Joseph was an international partner in the San Francisco/Palo Alto office of Baker & McKenzie. He received his J.D. from the University of Texas Law School.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH)
BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to save lives by accelerating the development of novel biotechnology-based drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to address the unmet medical needs of the developing world. The organization spurs biotech industry involvement in global health product development by increasing biotech and global health partnerships, designing and advocating for compelling market-based incentives, and synthesizing and disseminating critical information and quantitative analysis.