“Stabilize, improve, grow” is the title of an interview with Jeremy Launders, the President of the Management Board in BIOTON S.A., for Wprost newsmagazine. What issues were discussed? Jeremy Launders is an Irishman who spent the last couple years in Canada. How did it happen that he came to Poland? He saw a mission and a precise goal in BIOTON: launching insulin analogs, new company products, onto the market. He has always been interested in expanding the team to include new talents and experts. These are the reasons why he eagerly decided to accept the position in Poland.
Improve, stabilize and grow the business
He started in BIOTON in the middle of the third wave of COVID-19. His initial tasks were to appoint leaders and decision-makers in order to improve, stabilize and grow the business in such difficult times. As he says:
“I would have never done it without experts in biotechnology. I was looking for talent, I wanted to bring as much experience to the company as possible”.
Further decisions concerned finances and better costs control.
As for BIOTON products, the President of the Board aims at always enriching the range of products:
“We have the insulin and a new therapy for patients diagnosed with diabetes called DPP 4 which should be available on the market next year. We’ve been able to secure a stock of metformin, a key substance in diabetes treatment, which Poland lacked last year. We’re also looking at the glucose monitoring market. We do have such devices but we’d like to improve our offer. We’re looking at technological innovations, such as CGM which is continuous glucose monitoring.”
CGM is a sensor attached to the skin which reads the level of glucose in the body, and then transmits the data to a device. We are currently working on such solutions in our company.
Treatment in the face of the pandemic
What were the biggest problems at the time of pandemic? Above all, patients had their diabetes diagnosed late. Despite the fact that telemedicine was growing, appointments with doctors were hindered. The treatment process can only start when the patient is diagnosed, and then such patient needs complex education. This is where difficulties in managing patients came from: education on diets and the use of insulin injectors were hindered, which the led to growth of interest in oral anti-diabetes drugs.
The patients infected with coronavirus faced the biggest challenges. A few months after overcoming this disease, symptoms of the so-called “long COVID” might be still affecting their lives.
According to Jeremy Launders, further challenges emerged due to the pandemic in terms of the business itself. The main problem was to obtain raw materials for production: lead time for some materials extended substantially due to a demand from pharmaceutical companies producing vaccines against COVID-19. This resulted in increased production costs but did not entail higher BIOTON products prices. Instead, the company decided to raise efficiency and improve processes in order to keep the prices.
What about export?
As Jeremy Launders says:
“Our products are registered in almost 30 countries on four continents. In Europe, we’re naturally in Poland, but also in Malta, B&H, Ukraine, or Belarus. We’re also in Asia, Africa, and South America. Additionally, we cooperate with global health organizations. When such organization reports that there is an insulin shortage in a certain country, we are ready to help to supply such a region.
In future, we’d like to focus mainly on Latin America. We are in the process of registration procedure in Brazil and approaching a new registration in Mexico. These countries are densely populated, so the demand for insulin is high there.”
Additionally, in the case of a new insulin analog therapy, our ambition is to obtain approval of the American Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency.
The goal is a strong portfolio
Aside from the above-mentioned insulin analogs, BIOTON is presently studying the effectiveness of insulin produced in the company combined with modern oral drugs. Besides, we are constantly looking for other fields of operation, aside from diabetology, in which BIOTON could support patients in the context of co-existing disorders. The goal is a strong portfolio with solid services aimed at supporting the medical care. In terms of studies – we would like to improve cooperation with Polish universities:
“First of all, attracting young talent. Picking out the best students and inviting them to Bioton. We have a strong research and development department with the latest equipment available. A student or graduate who is thinking about a career in science could conduct studies, do research, and write scientific papers with us. Once they have completed their thesis, they may also apply to work here (…).
Another form of cooperation is to support universities in research that has already been underway. After all, every university is working on something. Often these are really ground-breaking things but the work can get stalled because there is not enough money to complete it. Companies, such as Bioton, could help to fund the research, and then turn the result into a well-scaled and profitable product.”
When asked about the position of Polish biotechnological companies in comparison to foreign ones, the President of the Board emphasizes that we, in Poland, do have the experience and technologies which allow us to develop innovative therapies, as well as competent workers. Certainly, large international pharmaceutical companies have strategic partners, and many companies grow thanks to acquisitions:
“Acquiring strategic partners in Europe, better cooperation with universities, and constant adaptation to global regulatory requirements would help Polish companies conquer foreign markets.”
The entire interview with Jeremy Launders is available on Wprost’s website.