May 17, 2020

Pfizer Forges Partnership with Solid Ventures to Test Muscular Dystrophy Drug

Pfizer
Solid Ventures
M&A
Medicine
Admin
3 min
Solid Ventures aims to advance treatments through development and has already delved into three initiatives to treat DMD in different ways.
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has chosen to forge a deal with a Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech firm headed by a father on a quest to find a cure for his son.

Il...

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has chosen to forge a deal with a Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech firm headed by a father on a quest to find a cure for his son.

Ilan Ganot, a former JP Morgan fund manager, raised $17 million and founded Solid Ventures when his son of 4 was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in October 2012. He found partners with expertise in health care and investing – Andrey Zarur, a life sciences venture capitalist, and Gilad Hayeem, former CEO of a European investment fund.

Joel Schneider, scientific analyst at Solid Ventures, told the Boston Business Journal that the deal with Pfizer came about through Carl Morris, senior director of the Rare Disease Research Unit in Cambridge.

“To take a risk on a small company like us speaks volumes about Pfizer’s commitment (to rare diseases),” Schneider said.

A Portfolio with Potential

Solid aims to advance treatments through development and has already delved into three initiatives to treat DMD in different ways. The first initiative is in collaboration with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Testing one of its clinical assets, plans are in development to enter human testing by early next year. In an interview with CNBC, Ganot said it may be possible to skip the initial stages of clinical testing as the safety of the drug has already been established.

A subsidiary created by Solid, dubbed Solid GT, is focused on gene therapy as a disease modifying treatment which, if effective, “changes the disease completely.” Guided by a scientific advisory board chaired by the University of Pennsylvania’s James Wilson, the goal is to take a smaller form of the gene dystrophin and administer it to patients so it can help them make a smaller version of the protein vital for muscle function.

Solid Suit, the third initiative, is focused on preserving muscle function by “repurposing military technologies,” according to CNBC.

Financial Protection

Solid’s multiple approaches to one disease are part of its strategy to diversify its efforts to lower investment risk, according to Ganot, and are also structured in a way that provides the most flexibility to the programs.

By choosing to make Solid GT a subsidiary, it allows for “better options in the future on partnering, raising specific money for a particular program, on discontinuing or funding some more,” said Ganot.

What This Means for Pharmaceutical Companies

Solid Ventures offers a lot of potential when it comes to the research and development of new treatments for DMD. Passionate about finding programs that show promise and propelling forward with them, Solid’s mission is to improve the daily life for patients and attacking the roots of DMD.

For pharmaceutical companies looking for new ventures or wanting to partner with a company that propels projects from the laboratory to the pharmacy shelf, Solid Ventures may be your answer. 

Share article

Apr 30, 2021

The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone

covid-19vaccine
vaccinesupply
Supplychain
Blockchain
Jonathan Colehower
5 min
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
Jonathan Colehower, CEO at CargoChain, describes the COVID-19 vaccine distribution challenges impacting every country, organisation and individual...

While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined. 

Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.  

Production capacity 

Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short. 

Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification. 

The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.

It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.

Distribution requirements

It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.

For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.  

The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.

Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.

Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.

Disconnected information systems 

While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration. 

A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.

By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.

Political influence and social equality 

As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.

In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.  

However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.

Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution. 

The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.

Share article