Biota: Success With a Solid Product Pipeline




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Video title: Biota: Success With a Solid Product Pipeline
Released on: December 30, 2009. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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  • Summary
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks with Leigh Farrell, Vice President of Business Development at Biota.

Filmed at AusBiotech 2009, they discuss:

• Biota's recent financial successes
• the maturing of the company's pipeline in viral and respiratory disease
• key developments for Biota's programmes in 2009
• focusing on development
• Biota's share value and the reasons for its dramatic rise
• the company's future pipeline
Biota's recent financial successes.
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News review here in Melbourne, Australia. On this show I have Leigh Farrell, who is the Vice President of Business Development at Biota based here in Melbourne. Welcome to the show.
Leigh Farrell:
Thanks Fintan Walton.
Fintan Walton:
Biota is one of these biotech companies that has been around the longest probably in Australia?
Leigh Farrell:
Since '87.
Fintan Walton:
And, indeed. And so it's a company that's maturing what's happen to Biota in the last few years it's been a tough year for biotech companies, is it been tough for Biota?
Leigh Farrell:
It's been a good year for Biota, so for example our royalties Relenza royalties doubled of base of 20 million for the last year financial year, 45 million this year, cash at bank around $87 million. And I think is that set Biota up well for the future, but more over would be on the trajectory to becoming a sustainable business and that's always been our objective. And I think that's reflective that our pipeline maturing as well.
The maturing of the company's pipeline in viral and respiratory disease
Fintan Walton:
Right. So that pipeline it's a company that focuses specifically in respiratory disease
Leigh Farrell:
No.
Fintan Walton:
Or viral disease?
Leigh Farrell:
Viral disease is certainly what we are known for. For example we do have a predominance of respiratory disease including influenza our second generation product as well, respiratory syncytial virus, and the rhinovirus program, but we also have a hepatitis C program as well and we are looking to expand into other anti-infective areas including anti-bacterial.
Key developments for Biota's programmes in 2009
Fintan Walton:
So how you said you've things impress this year, what are the key changes that's has happened at Biota in terms of pipeline development?
Leigh Farrell:
Yeah, look. Sure. So the key things are that the second generation product Laninamivir has completed Phase III in Japan, it's completed the series of Phase I's in the UK, so that's moving well forward and we're actively partnering that program as well. The second one is the rhinovirus program and that's developing small molecules to stop infections in patients such as COPD and asthma where infections with rhino cause exacerbations, that's in Phase IIA again we are actively partnering that program.
Focusing on development
Fintan Walton:
Is the business of Biota ultimately become a fully integrated pharmaceutical company to sell your own products or are you really just a development company?
Leigh Farrell:
We are a development company at this point, we don't have a view to the horizon of selling our own products. We think the best value for our shareholders is to do what we do, we are very good at developing new drugs with solid medicinal chemistry and taking them through early clinical proof of concept and capitalizing on that value inflection and cranking the handle again. And I think evidence of that as a model what was interesting yesterday at the conference that John D.Diekman from 5AM Ventures put up their business model, why they generate value for their LP's and it's basically Biota's business model.
Biota's share value and the reasons for its dramatic rise
Fintan Walton:
So for a company like Biota, I said that the markets been tough on companies. I think about a year ago your share prices were around 30 million, where is it today?
Leigh Farrell:
It's around 550 million.
Fintan Walton:
That's a remarkable change.
Leigh Farrell:
It's a little bit of a change, yes.
Fintan Walton:
And what's is that just because the sentiment generally within biotech within Australia or is it specific to Biota or you presumably we think it's specific to Biota?
Leigh Farrell:
Well you know there is also an argument that we also didn't cause the stock market crash, so�.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah.
Leigh Farrell:
That we'll claim, claim. I think there is recognition of the value in Biota and the sustainability of the royalty stream there is little of this amount certainly around that not being (indiscernable) seeing that's growing. I think the other point to make is also the relationship with GSK [PharmaDeals ID = 22974] [PharmaDeals ID = 21464] is fantastic. And they're putting a lot of effort into the sales and that's reflective in the royalties we are getting, so we are very pleased.
Fintan Walton:
Right. And the other thing you've just announced is a capital distribution?
Leigh Farrell:
Right.
Fintan Walton:
So what's the effect of that and why you're doing it?
Leigh Farrell:
Well that, I mean that's got to be approved at the AGM [ph], but you know excess capital to what we need at the moment, and so the idea was to hand that back to our shareholders.
The company's future pipeline
Fintan Walton:
Leigh Farrell, over the next year what do we expect from Biota? What can we expect?
Leigh Farrell:
Well we are publically saying we're looking to partner our two programs the long-acting neuraminidase program and the rhinovirus program. And continuing to progress our other pipeline of programs which we have our respiratory syncytial virus program, a program partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim [PharmaDeals ID = 25869] and looking at other opportunities to bring in if they make sense for the company. We're often asked what you are going to do with all that money, and we'll do sensible things with that money, we are not time driven to do transaction, we just want to do good transactions if and when they arise.
Fintan Walton:
Leigh Farrell, thanks very much for coming on the show.
Leigh Farrell:
Thanks very much Fintan Walton.
Leigh Farrell
Vice President, Business Development
Dr Leigh Farrell was appointed Vice President, Business Development on 24 April 2006. Prior to joining Biota, Dr Farrell spent approximately 4 years as an Associate Director at GBS Ventures Partners Limited, a specialist Life Sciences Venture Capital Fund. Dr Leigh Farrell previously held the positions of Research Manager at Johnson & Johnson Research Pty Ltd and Chief Executive Officer of Gene Shears Pty Limited. Dr Leigh Farrell has extensive international experience in corporate finance, business development, licensing, relationship management and intellectual property portfolio management in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. He is currently the Chairman of the Competitive Business Environment Working Group established under the 2007 Biotechnology Strategic Development Plan for Victoria.
Biota
Biota is a leading anti-infective drug development company, based in Melbourne, Australia and Oxford, UK. Biota's initial success was the discovery of zanamivir, the first-in-class neuraminidase inhibitor for the treatment and prevention of influenza. Zanamivir is licensed to GlaxoSmithKline and marketed as Relenza. Relenza is used to treat seasonal influenza and is currently being stockpiled by various governments for defense against possible pandemic outbreaks of influenza.