Efren Ocampo
President and Executive Director
Grupo Neolpharma
/
View from the Top

Prize Stimulates R&D Innovation Biotech, Nanotech

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 10:41

Q: What areas has Grupo Neolpharma targeted in the last 12 months?

A: We have just completed construction of the plant area in which we will be producing nanotechnology. We are moving our production capacity for pilot batches of biotechnology products there and we are also increasing investment so that all pilot production is carried out under GMP conditions.

Q: What is Grupo Neolpharma and CINVESTAV’s prize for innovation in bio-nanotechnology?
A: Biotechnology and nanotechnology are two lines in which we are interested in stimulating research. The prize was linked to pharmacology but it is now more open as it has enabled the creation of new materials. The invitation to participate is open to all the institutions and professionals working in those disciplines and the prize is MX$300,000 (US$16,666). Half of the award is to reward the researcher and the other half is to fund the continuity of the winning project. The purpose of the prize is to create new talent, provide exposure and increase the diffusion of these kinds of scientific proposals. We are approaching 2016’s winning researcher to ask for his help capsulating some drugs we want to deliver to the limbic part of the brain. He could

provide us with a smaller mechanism that would let us break through this barrier. By allying with CONACYT and using its methods of diffusion, if something could be useful for other laboratories they can come to an agreement with the council. This also enables us to approach others directly. It is much more concrete and there are fewer risks when approaching someone.

Q: What new heights would nanotechnology enable the pharmaceutical industry to reach?

A: Nanotechnology is a technique that can be used to produce medicine. If a medicine that causes unwanted side-effects is made using nanotechnology, those effects can be reduced instead of damaging the stomach or liver. Therefore, it is most useful for eliminating the side-effects of already approved medicines, such as in oncology. Basically, nano-capsules can reach cells and they enable the use of smaller doses. Our innovation in this area is focused on oncology and diabetes.

Q: What solutions is the group providing to the Mexican health industry?

A: We must first develop medicines and provide it to the greatest number of patients possible. In our case, this  implies a national cost, which determines the price. We have done this with our product Transkrip, the patented version of which costs six times more. Our body is constantly defending itself against attacks and when certain cells get infected, they no longer work as well. Transkrip activates our cells to better absorb the medicine and in some cases it also reactivates the immune system. TransKrip is a drug based in epigenetic therapy that increases the progress- free period of patients with advanced cervical cancer. Currently it is used for cutaneous lymphoma of T-cells and myelodysplastic syndromes. We are completing a project on the application of this technology for lymphoma in D cells. In some cases it has 100 percent efficacy and there is a fast therapeutic benefit.

Q: Where is most of your R&D being carried out?

A: I am looking to mix research by stages, to do some in Mexico and some in the US. There is an innovation and development research center called Cediprof in Puerto Rico, a site that allows some of our research to be conducted in an FDA environment. This is a strategy we want to extend to other Mexican companies that are working on innovative projects, so they can develop the early research phases in Mexico and then conclude their research in Puerto Rico without a major investment. This will create fiscal benefits and empower research.

Q: What opportunities will IMSS opening to clinical research bring for Grupo Neolpharma?

A: That is extraordinary because it is where the most patients are. For example, the application of the D-cells treatment is valid only for a small number of sick patients with those characteristics. IMSS is where most of them are. In the INCan, the process of incorporating the number of required patients was long. However, with IMSS we can more quickly identify people with a certain condition and deliver the product.

Q: Where do you rank Mexican talent globally? Is it prepared for the rapid changes occurring in companies?

A: There are no problems with talent for making biotechnological medicine in Mexico. We should look at Denmark and Sweden, where they have recognized through studies that biosimilars do not have more adverse effects than innovative products and that they have the same therapeutic benefits. We must focus on the resulting benefits in terms of cost once the patents expire.

Q: How is the group’s growth oriented?

A: By 2020 we want to reach 100 percent growth in comparison to where we are now. We have already achieved a respectable size in Mexico and other strategic foreign markets so we are confident we will be able to meet this new expectation. Toward the achievement of this goal we have increased our presence in the oncology and metabolic areas with our biosimilar offer. In the future we want to grow in therapeutic areas and begin producing patented and high-efficiency treatments, while increasing our sales force.

implies a national cost, which determines the price. We have done this with our product Transkrip, the patented version of which costs six times more. Our body is constantly defending itself against attacks and when certain cells get infected, they no longer work as well. Transkrip activates our cells to better absorb the medicine and in some cases it also reactivates the immune system. TransKrip is a drug based in epigenetic therapy that increases the progress- free period of patients with advanced cervical cancer. Currently it is used for cutaneous lymphoma of T-cells and myelodysplastic syndromes. We are completing a project on the application of this technology for lymphoma in D cells. In some cases it has 100 percent efficacy and there is a fast therapeutic benefit.

Q: Where is most of your R&D being carried out?

A: I am looking to mix research by stages, to do some in Mexico and some in the US. There is an innovation and development research center called Cediprof in Puerto Rico, a site that allows some of our research to be conducted in an FDA environment. This is a strategy we want to extend to other Mexican companies that are working on innovative projects, so they can develop the early research phases in Mexico and then conclude their research in Puerto Rico without a major investment. This will create fiscal benefits and empower research.

Q: What opportunities will IMSS opening to clinical research bring for Grupo Neolpharma?
A: That is extraordinary because it is where the most patients are. For example, the application of the D-cells treatment is valid only for a small number of sick patients with those characteristics. IMSS is where most of them are. In the INCan, the process of incorporating the number of required patients was long. However, with IMSS we can more quickly identify people with a certain condition and deliver the product.

Q: Where do you rank Mexican talent globally? Is it prepared for the rapid changes occurring in companies? A: There are no problems with talent for making biotechnological medicine in Mexico. We should look at Denmark and Sweden, where they have recognized through studies that biosimilars do not have more adverse effects than innovative products and that they have the same therapeutic benefits. We must focus on the resulting benefits in terms of cost once the patents expire.

Q: How is the group’s growth oriented?

A: By 2020 we want to reach 100 percent growth in comparison to where we are now. We have already achieved a respectable size in Mexico and other strategic foreign markets so we are confident we will be able to meet this new expectation. Toward the achievement of this goal we have increased our presence in the oncology and metabolic areas with our biosimilar offer. In the future we want to grow in therapeutic areas and begin producing patented and high-efficiency treatments, while increasing our sales force.

Q: What is Grupo Neolpharma’s message to the industry?

A: Grupo Neolpharma wants to coordinate the efforts of the research institutions, the laboratories and the government to lead the Mexican pharmaceutical industry to an international level. The industry has to keep in mind Mexican epidemiology and which technologies could lead us to the best medicines for the Mexican population. However, this will only be possible with a confident attitude that overcomes the financial challenges we might encounter in the process.

A: Grupo Neolpharma wants to coordinate the efforts of the research institutions, the laboratories and the government to lead the Mexican pharmaceutical industry to an international level. The industry has to keep in mind Mexican epidemiology and which technologies could lead us to the best medicines for the Mexican population. However, this will only be possible with a confident attitude that overcomes the financial challenges we might encounter in the process.