Finn Benned Hansen discusses Novo Nordisk’s focus on finding novel compounds and new delivery methods




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Video title: Finn Benned Hansen discusses Novo Nordisk’s focus on finding novel compounds and new delivery methods
Released on: January 19, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Dr Finn Benned Hansen, Corporate VP Strategy and Sourcing, Novo Nordisk.
Finn Hansen role and partnering structure with Novo Nordisk
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here in Munich at BIO-Europe 2010. On this show I have Finn Hansen, who is Corporate Vice President and Head of Strategy and Sourcing at Novo Nordisk, welcome to the show.
Finn Hansen:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Finn Hansen, Novo Nordisk is obviously very well known for it's insulin based products, but you are here at BIO-Europe here in Munich, in November 2010 and you are here for a purpose obviously to seek up new partnerships, so before we go into what you are looking for could you tell us little bit about you and your role within Novo Nordisk and how partnering is structured within Novo Nordisk?
Finn Hansen:
Certainly, well I head a sourcing group as you said that focuses on finding new opportunities for diabetes and obesity. We also have another group that looks for other biologicals in the inflammatoryarea in for haemostasis and other biologicals, and so our role is to go out and identify and evaluate such opportunities that we find. At Novo Nordisk once we have done careful evaluation and have decided together with a in a dialog with a partner, but there is an interesting opportunity here then we hand over the task to a further do the deal making and the due diligence to our business development group at Novo Nordisk and once and if an agreement is done then we hint the implementation of the agreement and relation to further development of the relationship to the partner to our corporate alliance management group.
What sort of technologies and opportunities Novo Nordisk is looking for?
Fintan Walton:
Sure, so I mean clearly it's important for a company like Novo Nordisk to gain access to opportunities that exist outside, obviously you've got your own research and development groups within Novo Nordisk, just going to you and what you are looking for particularly within your group, what is it within the areas like diabetes and obesity that you are specifically looking for, what sort of pipeline are you looking for?
Finn Hansen:
Well Novo Nordisk research and development within diabetes currently focuses on insulin's, and I will describe that little later hopefully. Novel GLP-1 agonists, anti-obesity agents and also other novel anti-diabetic compounds, when I say compounds I should clarify that Novo Nordisk is solely focused Novo Nordisk R&D is solely focused on proteins and peptides, we do not do small molecules. So our focus is to find novel compounds in each of these area and we have particular focus on novel anti-diabetic proteins and also novel anti-obesity proteins. So that's one area, the other area is that apart from compounds we are also very interested in technology in the diabetes area, because we have a large effort invested currently into developing orally available insulin's and GLP-1's, so while we have lot of expertise in doing the molecules then in terms of the formulation part we don't know that much, so that's where we are very, very actively looking for new opportunities, we have in fact screened at this point up to a 300 different formulation technologies and we ended up actually making agreements with two technology providers and these types of technologies are now in clinical Phase I in our major efforts to do this.
Fintan Walton:
So which technologies are you using?
Finn Hansen:
This is the, we have an agreement with Merrion Pharmaceuticals and their GIPET technology [PharmaDeals ID = 38586] and also Emisphere and their Sodium N-[8-(2-hydroxybenzoyl) Amino] Caprylate ("SNAC") technology, so these are the two that we are researching right now.
Opportunities for new technologies in drug delivery systems
Fintan Walton:
Right, so just on the topic of drug delivery, I mean obviously there is this real still real big need for appropriate delivery systems for larger proteins then even peptides, what is the landscape like, I mean obviously if you been looking at a over 100 different technologies is there still room for new technologies to come into that space?
Finn Hansen:
Absolutely, absolutely this is a daunting task actually to develop oral, usable orally available protein and peptides, I mean the issue is that you will have to provide a sufficient bioavailability for the drugs as well as decrease or control the variability of the drug and there is a, this is a large challenge to dwell these types of products and certainly there is a room for a lot of technology development at this.
Fintan Walton:
And it's not just getting into you just deliver it through oral delivery it's just through any means I believe it's an injectable that still may be need some sort of specific formulation?
Finn Hansen:
Yes well if we continue on oral, our current focus is on oral deliveries there we got through the intestinal systems, so we are certainly also looking for bottle delivery and we have also looked at other modes of delivery inhalation delivery for saying we had a large programs some years ago with the number of the other along with the number of the other pharma companies and unfortunately that failed, but still there is a need to find new methods to deliver these types of drugs from the injectable formulations as now.
Fintan Walton:
You've also talked about platform technologies, I mean obviously there is this drug delivery systems but also technologies that will enable you to discover new products, new potential drugs?
Finn Hansen:
Yes we have a lot of interest in beta cells for example. We have a large beta cell program right now and we have attempting to discover drugs that will form new beta cells maintain the beta cells mass in diabetes of course that decreases in diabetes, so technology platforms that can also help us in identifying novels, novel drugs and novel targets is certainly of interest.
Stem cells program
Fintan Walton:
And what about the potential of the stem cell?
Finn Hansen:
We also have a stem cell program internally, we are trying to develop stem cell into fully functional beta cells and certainly also there is an interest in finding new technology it is a one thing is that you can make a fully functional beta cell, the other thing is actually to make it function once you have it in the body, because it is attacked by our immune system, so we need to protect them in someway or the other and traditionally people have been using encapsulation technology and this is certainly also an area that we will presumably looking out for the other types of technologies there, but that's also an area of interest.
Novo Nordisk's non core areas of interest
Fintan Walton:
So lets just go back to this sort of non-core areas the ones that, lets say which Novo Nordisk is less traditionally known for and that's lot of that activity I realize in other group in an additional group to yours which is looking for this particular products, but could you describe what they are specifically looking for and the types of opportunities they seek out?
Finn Hansen:
Yes, well Novo Nordisk there are basically two areas there, one is hemostasis, hemophilia hemostasis and the other area is the inflammatory diseases, and it is our strategy currently to develop a fully portfolio of hemophilia compounds, so we have apart from our NovoSeven which is now a drug that sells more than one billion, we are also aiming at providing factor VIII and factor IX the other coagulation factor as well as factor XIII to the market. So I think we are fairly well along the lines there although we have actually established partnerships there especially to prolong the action of these factors, but we are certainly looking for a (indiscernable) for our compounds that still can be used in the treatment of hemophilia and hemostasis, but that are outside of the traditional factor products. So that's one area of interest, the other area is the inflammatory diseases the rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and also lupus and of course the Type I and especially TypeII, especially Type I but also Type IIdiabetes is also regarded as an inflammatory, so we are also looking for compounds that potentially can be used to treat diabetes also.
Relationship with ZymoGenetics
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so then clearly that's quite a broad range still within big targets to go for, with regard to Novo Nordisk's past you've had a history of partnering and this it is even though you are setting yourselves out for a specific drive and partnering right now you've got a history of partnering of not only partnering but also buying companies like ZymoGenetics and selling them off or divesting them also spinning out other parts to Novo Nordisk, so you are a company that has a lot of experience in that particular area, but when you look at say for an example the relationship you've had with ZymoGenetics, because obviously there are number of products including your blockbuster NovoSeven that came originally from ZymoGenetics obviously most people will know that ZymoGenetics has now been bought by BMS , so how does that affect Novo Nordisk this new purchase by BMS [PharmaDeals ID = 37360]?
Finn Hansen:
Well I don't think that it will affect Novo Nordisk, the relation we went at a time this was in 2000 when ZymoGenetics was spun out of Novo Nordisk and made an IPO, we had an agreement with ZymoGenetics giving us access to in fact the full range of targets that they were looking for in that basically was their protein(indiscernable) effort, and we took number of licenses actually to two of the targets and we now have at least two that are in clinical development and I believe that are more actually in our research pipeline, and these licenses will certainly stand you know even though that ZymoGenetics is now a part of Bristol-Myers.
Future partnering strategy and growth plans
Fintan Walton:
Yes, so as I said you've got this experience, so where does that place Novo Nordisk going into the future, because you have these options, you have this experience as well of buying companies and then divesting them and so forth, so within the remit of your overall strategy of building Novo Nordisk for the future you are clearly you've got your internal research, you've got these licensing arrangements within and partnering arrangements with various companies where does that, where does that go into the future and does that still include the possibilities you go out there and acquire more companies, does it mean that you go into joint ventures, so what sort of, what's the remit that you see it for Novo Nordisk going into the future in order to secure its own-future?
Finn Hansen:
Well there is no question about that partnering is going to be a very important element for Novo Nordisk research strategy also in the future. I think I can see that in diabetes we have made some partnerships, but are not really known for mainly although I should say that with that as a company we were founded on a license and also I can also mention that our Victoza is actually also founded on a license, I don't think many people knows that, but Novo Nordisk has focused on our Insulin business and that has basically been by internal innovation, but as we now move into more and more into new areas into addressing diabetes, also the diabetes called mobilities there its very certain that partnerships are going to be an integral part of Novo Nordisk. If we turn to the inflammation area that is right now you know the pipeline is fully as it comes from partnerships exclusively and that's also going to be a very, very important area for us going forward. So I think that while Novo Nordisk may not have been known as you know doing many deals I think you will certainly see many more deals in the future or so, as it when it comes to acquisitions we certainly always looking for acquisitions we haven't done many in the past, I perhaps should mention that along with our setting or initiating inflammation as an area we've actually also initiated oncology as an area, however there it was a requisite for us that we would find a company that could provide us with the competences and perhaps the pipeline that we would need to start of this, and we were looking for that for two-years but never, but unfortunately didn't find a suitable acquisition target there. So yes we are looking, but it's certainly going to be on a case basis.
Fintan Walton:
Are you still looking for an oncology company?
Finn Hansen:
No, we have decided to terminate oncology and now we are focusing on inflammation.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so the future of Novo Nordisk is it a specialty pharmaceutical company or is it a growing larger pharma company?
Finn Hansen:
Yes, I would say that we are growing larger company, and if you take the United States we now have actually a general practitioner sales force that is at the size of all of the big pharma company or larger pharma companies so to speak. So I think we actually view us in some respects as a speciality company, but there also in other respects as a large pharma company, so in some instances we with the company we look ourself in diabetes more as a large pharma company and as a speciality company in the other biologics area that we are moving into now, but certainly our relationship to specialist this is one of the strength that we have is certainly something that we are going to maintain in the future.
Fintan Walton:
Finn Hansen, that is handsome. Thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Finn Hansen:
Thank you.
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).
Finn Benned Hansen
Corporate Vice President
Finn Hansen , is a Vice President of Business Development and Patents at Novo Nordisk. He is a Director at Novo Nordisk Biotech Fund. Finn Hansen is a very experienced and highly esteemed cross-cultural expert and consultant. He has helped many companies around the world getting the most out of globalisation by focusing on creating competitive advantage and organisational effectiveness. He has done that by helping companies accelerating the synergies from cultural diversity. He has worked in more than 30 different countries at senior management level in companies like IBM, CSC and Arthur Andersen Business Consulting and as managing partner of his own firm he started in 2001, where the client base counts companies like Fortis, Apple, Airbus, SAS, Nordea Bank, Microsoft, Novo Nordisk. He has typically been conducting or involved in: - Cultural due diligence - Post merger integration - Development of corporate cross-cultural training programs - International change management projects - Conflict reconciliation - Strategic direction Finn Hansen holds an MBA from Henley Management College, UK and a doctorate at International School of Management in Paris, New York, Shanghai and Tokyo. The subject of his doctoral thesis is on how cultural diversity is a key success factors for global operating companies. He speaks English, French and Danish fluently and he has worked in more than 30 countries around the globe. He holds an assistant professorship at The International University in Paris.
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.
Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 87 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions within haemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 30,000 employees in 76 countries, and markets its products in 179 countries. Novo Nordisk's B shares are listed on NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen (Novo-B). Its ADRs are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NVO).