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- 04/06/2017

5 minutes interview with: James Mish – Noramco

Pharma Horizon


Five minutes at DCAT with …

James Mish is the CEO of Noramco. Formerly part of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Noramco is now an independent API supplier. It is particularly active in controlled substances for conditions including ADHD, pain, addiction and abuse deterrence.


James MishPH: What is Noramco’s background?

Mish: We have a long rich history under the J&J flag going back to the 1970s and high levels of quality, capability and service were brought on over the course of the years, so we were a very well trusted brand. The business started out in the US, expanded into Europe and later to the emerging markets. J&J also acquired the Tasmanian Alkaloids business that supplied the narcotic raw material.

PH: How did you come to be independent?

Mish: J&J decided on a strategic divestment to enable Noramco to fulfil its full potential. There were many interested suitors. SK Capital stood out for their experience in the pharmaceutical and speciality chemicals businesses, and the value they put on the people and the assets. The deal closed on 1 July 2016. Some non-J&J leaders were added in, including myself – I spent eight years at Ashland – and financial and supply chain leaders. The first six months of operations were about carving the business out and ensuring we didn’t take a step backward in innovation and customer service. The physical separation is 90%+ complete, with only IT still to do.

PH: What are your first priorities as an independent firm?

Mish: By the first anniversary, we believe that we will be completely independent, without missing a beat in our service and innovation offerings. Behind that, we have developed a strategic framework to release the full potential of the business. J&J did many great things, but they were very conservative and hesitant to expand the product portfolio too quickly or geographically. We have sought to transform the business in three ways: commercial excellence, meaning bringing up our standard of customer service, not just as an API maker but also as a full solution provider; new operational excellence, making sure we operate our assets more efficiently, which we did not have to do as an internal asset; and, strategic growth.

PH: What form will that strategic growth take?

Mish: We have three initiatives. There will be geographic expansion in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific. We are expanding the portfolio – we have already had five such initiatives over the first five months, including amphetamines fully launching, methylphenidate hydrochloride, and a new cannabinoid partnership with Teewinot Life Sciences. Finally, we are applying the ‘solution’ model. We are not a CDMO or a full dosage form maker: at heart, we are an API manufacturer with a dominant position in controlled substances, and we want to expand that but to go further and work with customers, offering our formulation science capabilities to enable them to accelerate their growth and speed to market.

PH: Are you also developing biologics capabilities?

Mish: No, but there are some very complex small molecules with some of the attributes of large molecules. Cannabinoids are a prime example. There is a lot of noise about biologics; our approach is slightly different. In formulation, bioavailability technology is not being used to its full extent. Many excipients can add to this, but excipients suppliers are often kept at arm’s length. Part of our approach will be partnering with them and bringing in the next generation of capabilities around bioavailability and addiction prevention. We are trying to build a network around that. Combine that with our regulatory capabilities, and we can accelerate the business model for some of our customers.