Genzyme: What Makes a Great Rare Disease Company.

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Video title: Genzyme: What Makes a Great Rare Disease Company.
Released on: July 27, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at #BIO2012 Convention in Boston, Fintan Walton talks to David Meeker, President & CEO at Genzyme
Impact of merger with Sanofi
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO in Boston, in 2012. On this show I have David Meeker, who is the President and CEO of Genzyme, welcome.
David Meeker:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
I suppose one of the big events that's happened recently is that Genzyme has merged into Sanofi [PharmaDeals ID = 37246], a European French Company, what impact does that had on Genzyme?
David Meeker:
It's a one-year post-merger it's had obviously significant impact pre-merger Genzyme we had our challenges and our number one priority post-merger is to continue to address those challenges, so fixing our manufacturing problems, resupplying a patient community that's that goes on. I think the advantage post-merger of being part of Sanofi is that we now have the incremental resources and the global reach that a pharmaceutical company the size of Sanofi could bring, so it's been I think quite a good one-year period working that through and realizing what could be accomplished as part of Sanofi.
Focus and programs on rare diseases and MS
Fintan Walton:
Okay. Genzyme had a unique identity, is that identity still retained and if so how should the industry and how should the public look at Genzyme now?
David Meeker:
So it's a great question, I think one of the reasons that the integration has gone so well is they've approached there with a tremendous amount of respect and sensitivity for the culture that Genzyme has built, we have an unusually strong culture giving our history of working in rare diseases in a very close proximity to the patient community which allows a remarkable number over 10,000 employees to feel directly connected with that and so it is a real purpose driven organization and they wanna preserve that, so think again that's really been a key to the successful merger today.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so can you describe to me some obviously there are things that you want to retain and particularly in terms of the therapeutic focus and the types of drugs, because you had a very clear history and the types of molecules that you are taking forward at Genzyme, so what is it gonna be like in the future for Genzyme, what sort of products are you gonna develop, which ones you gonna be kicked your way, et cetera?
David Meeker:
Yes, so pre-merger we were pursing a diversification strategy as Genzyme with products in areas outside of the rare disease. Post-merger they have restructured overall with three of our business units going over to the Sanofi side and they putting in one of the MS drugs into combining with our existing MS drug Lemtrada, so we now have two products and two MS franchise. So the Genzyme going forward is a rare disease focused company and a multiple sclerosis focused company and we will be focused on continuing to develop and acquire new opportunities within those two programs.
Will Genzyme retain sales and marketing activities of products branded as Genzyme in US and around world?
Fintan Walton:
Right, so if anything you're reinforcing the history and the strength of the organization, so obviously then you stand alone on the research and development side developing those particular products will Genzyme retain sales and marketing activities all the big products branded as Genzyme in US and elsewhere around the world?
David Meeker:
Yes, I think a key part of our success is people recognize us as Genzyme and we've built a brand, we've built an approach that is extremely valuable and we don't want to lose it, they don't wanna us lose that, so we will remain Genzyme and we will be identified as Genzyme and we also have always valued the integrated approach to healthcare, so we don't see ourselves as purely a commercial organization or an R&D but we integrate across that, now each of those components particularly R&D is integrated firmly into the overall Sanofi R&D structure which allows us to benefit from their greater resources they've got.
R&D pipeline and products
Fintan Walton:
Right, so you benefit across the whole organization in that respect, so let's look back at your research and development pipeline now, so give us some sort of perspective what you would expect to see over the next two to three-years at Genzyme?
David Meeker:
So there is three products that are active that have been filed so actively in review which is incredibly rich moment for any company, two of our MS products and one for familial hypercholesterolemia and we have a fourth product which is in late stage Phase III trial for Gaucher disease this is a small molecule and that product again we will make those results available beginning of 2013. So we feel quite fortunate to have a late stage pipeline that's very clear, the areas that we are interested in will be governed by as many companies say but we are very focused on this concept of true unmet medical needs are much more driven by what's the problem, how well do we understand it, and how strong is the biology, so areas of CNS related diseases for example very significant focus for us. Rare diseases 6800 rare diseases, there is only treatments for about 340 though, so again the need is enormous and the opportunities there I think as science progresses I am quite bullish on the science we have a lot of room to play.
David Meeker's perspective on what makes a great rare disease company
Fintan Walton:
So what makes a great rare diseases company?
David Meeker:
What makes a great rare disease company is a company that takes the time to understand what it is to be a patient. The rare disease communities faces an unusual number of challenges from the most basic nobody knows what your disease is, you don't know what it is, you go to nine doctors before anybody can make a diagnosis, they don't have a test that allows you to diagnosis and when you do there is no therapy or if there is a therapy you can't get access to it, so there is an endless number of hurdles that you have to confront as a rare disease patient and having a company that has spent the time to understand that and help you solve the problem has been key to our success.
Fintan Walton:
David Meeker, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
David Meeker:
Thank you, 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).
David Meeker
President and Chief Executive Officer
At the time of recording this PTV interview David Meeker serves as President and Chief Executive Officer at Genzyme Corporation. David Meeker was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Genzyme in October 2011. Genzyme is a global biotechnology company committed to discovering and delivering transformative therapies for patients with rare and special unmet medical needs. Dr. Meeker oversees and provides the vision for the company's two business units " Rare Diseases and Multiple Sclerosis as well as its long-standing relationships with patient communities and dedicated workforce of 10,000 employees. In his career with Genzyme, he has held key positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as Chief Operating Officer. In this role, he was responsible for Genzyme's commercial organization, overseeing its business units, country management organization, and global market access functions. As Chief Operating Officer, he played an important role in the integration with Sanofi. Dr. Meeker joined Genzyme in 1994 as Medical Director to work on the Cystic FibrosisGene Therapy program. Subsequently, as Vice President, Medical Affairs, he was responsible for the development of therapeutic products, including treatments in the current rare disease portfolio. As President of the Global Rare Disease Business, he oversaw the global launches of Aldurazyme, Fabrazyme, and Myozyme. Prior to joining Genzyme, Dr. Meeker was the Director of the Pulmonary Critical Care Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic and an assistant professor of medicine at Ohio State University. He has authored more than 40 articles and multiple book chapters.
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.
Genzyme Corporation is a fully owned subsidiary of Sanofi. Before its acquisition in 2011, Genzyme was an American biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2010, Genzyme was the world's third-largest biotechnology company, employing more than 11,000 people around the world. As a subsidiary of Sanofi-Aventis, Genzyme has a presence in approximately 40 countries, including 17 manufacturing facilities and 9 genetic-testing laboratories, its products are sold in 90 countries. In 2007, Genzyme generated $3.8 billion in revenues with more than 25 products in the market. In 2006 and 2007 Genzyme was named one of Fortune Magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work for". The company donated $83 million worth of products worldwide; in 2006, it made $11 million in cash donations. In 2005, Genzyme was awarded the National Medal of Technology, the highest level of honor awarded by the president of the United States to America's leading innovators.