Five minutes at CPhI worldwide with …
Chemistry Today/Pharma Horizon: How is 2017 closing and what do you expect from next year?
Pascal Villemagne: Our financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March.We finished last onein March at a very high level for Dishman Group, with good performance from both brands, Dishman and CARBOGEN AMCIS. Our outlook for the current fiscal year is looking also extremely good.
CT/PH: Is Dishman-CARBOGEN AMCIS aiming to provide a one-stop shop CMO solution?
Mark Griffiths: “One stop shop” is an expression we honestly do not like. What we endeavour to do is to provide the right capability for customers at the right phase in the clinical program, delivering what they need when they need it. What is most important then is flexibility, rather than forcing customers to work in a certain way. That tremendous amount of flexibility means lots of challenges, for sure, for example in project management, but it is one of our core competencies. What most concerns us is the ability to offer customers many alternatives when they need to be fast.
CT/PH: What are your technological highlights?
MG: High potency oncology it is still a very large platform for us. That reflects the fact that, sadly, there are many sufferers of this terrible disease. Cancer is tremendously challenging to address, with its many forms, and with a huge amount of research. We have grown our capability significantly and we continue to expand it. We invested a lot in drug conjugates, especially ADCs. Drugs are becoming more and more potent, thus requiring smaller and smaller volumes. Chromatography has been a strong skill set of us, for example. But we have skills across the map: the only chemistry we really don’t handle is HF – beside that, we provide practically everything a customer is going to ask us. For a good offer on the market, we have to be strong on many things. But the way we do things, our project management and organization, that is our real Know How: you can copy pieces of equipment, but you cannot really copy a company culture and expertise.
CT/PH: Do you employ green chemistry technologies?
MG: We have been doing this sort of work across the group since more than twenty years. We have been at optimizing our processes for challenging molecules for a long time. Green chemistry is something that for us comes naturally along with process optimization and safety.
CT/PH: Are you moving towards biologicals, then?
MG: We started offering drug conjugates since roughly 15 years ago. But at the time the technology was in its infancy, there was very, very low acceptance. I think the current demand for more potent compounds with less side effects and overall better for the patient is driving this demand. It is a growing area and if we want to respond we will grow with the market. We invested a lot in this capability; we completed few years ago a new ADC facility which is already fully busy, in Bubendorf, Switzerland.
CT/PH: Are these regulatory restrictions changing? What about the new US administration?
PV: We still did not see any real changes yet; the US market is the number one, so we obviously keep a very close eye and we prepare to implement strategies to play around possible changes. Brexit, in Europe, is also going to impact things. But we will face everything when we will know. There is nothing so far that is impacting our business.
MG: I might add Switzerland, where we are based, has the unique position of being a key trading partner of EU but not part of it. That provides some benefits to North American customers for example. There is a number of our clients that are now headquartering in Switzerland for legal and financial reasons.
CT/PH: The investment in pharma R&D is increasing but this does not translate always in more molecules on the market. What is your take?
MG: It is fair to say the regulatory impact on our industry has become more and more extreme. Drug safety is very important, especially for governments but prices are also crucial. Many drugs dropped out because, even if efficient, were too expensive. These are challenges that are hurting our customers. They need to be more creative, and to be more creative they need partners who are as creative as them. And this is who we aim to be. For us, it is not about the shiny pieces of equipment. It is about the people: smart, experienced, motivated people who work with us.
CT/PH: What do customers demand from Dishman-CARBOGEN AMCIS and what puts you ahead of the competition?
MG: There are lots of companies around doing the straightforward things, and we do not aim to be competitive there. Where we are really competitive is on the very, very challenging chemistry. Be it from a technical, handling, timing or supply-chain perspective.