Why big pharma is partnering with this Chapel Hill data company
Oct 20, 2017, 12:47pm EDT
For Chapel Hill-based clinical data company TARGET PharmaSolutions, pharmaceutical giants like Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) (NYSE: BMY) and Allergan (NYSE: AGN) have continued to sign on as strategic partners.
Since the beginning of October, not only has TARGET announced that BMS and Intercept (Nasdaq: ICPT) have extended their respective strategic partnerships for its TARGET-NASH (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) study to multiyear agreements, but it’s also announced that Boehringer Ingelheim International has entered a new multiyear strategic partnership for TARGET-NASH.
“We’ve continued to demonstrate how important real-world evidence is,” says TARGET CEO Meg Powell. And that importance continues throughout the life cycle of drug development, she adds.
All of TARGET’s partners have drugs that are in clinical development in NASH, Powell says. As these companies are putting together clinical trials, they’re able to “prepare marketing and commercialization plans, collect data for regulatory purposes, and start to think about their reimbursement strategy …”
These companies are interested in a “very robust and high-quality data source that they can leverage,” when it comes to a particular disease, she says. How patients are “being treated in the real world has become very valuable.”
It’s about a “unique constellation of all the components of our offering,” adds Powell, “bringing multiple stakeholders around a data set,” including regulatory agencies as well as pharmaceutical companies and academic expertise. It’s all designed to enhance the understanding around a particular disease state, and ultimately how that disease is being managed in the real world.
Outside of NASH, TARGET is also working in the following areas: primary biliary cholangitis, a chronic liver disease; hepatocellular carcinoma, a liver cancer; and inflammatory bowel disease. The company expects to move into a fifth area next year, according to Powell, and also expects to add additional partners in the near future.
In the last year, TARGET has grown from a staff of 10 people to roughly 50 people, Powell says. New hires have largely been in clinical operations and analytics.
TARGET also expects to enroll its first patients in Europe by the end of this year, and is beginning to look at other geographic areas, including Asia.
The company completed its Series A round in March 2016, raising $2 million, with Rex Health Ventures serving as the lead investor. The firm formed in 2015, and was based on the success of an academic collaboration by Michael Fried of UNC- Chapel Hill and David Nelson of the University of Florida, which looked at how drugs for Hepatitis C performed in the real world.
Jennifer Henderson, staff writer for Triangle Business Journal