Remko van Leeuwen, founder and CEO of Madam Therapeutics, is the second speaker at the VIG Talk on October 29.
VIG (“Vereniging Innovatieve Geneesmiddelen” in Dutch) is the Association of Innovative Medicines and represents the pharmaceutical sector in the Netherlands. The aim of the Association is to promote the availability of new medicines for patients, to create a favorable research climate and to promote the value of the innovative medicine.
This edition of the VIG Talk is all about antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In his presentation, Van Leeuwen focuses on new business models.
On the Website of VIG a short announcement has been published. They describe that van Leeuwen founded Madam Therapeutics in 2011 . Van Leeuwen is also a board member of the BEAM Alliance . This network unites some 70 European small and medium-sized companies that focus on the development of new antibiotics.
Short payback period
‘The traditional business model for drug development does not work well for antibiotics,’ says Van Leeuwen in the item on the VIG website. ‘That is why you now see that the development of new antibiotics is lagging far behind the growing need.’ With antibiotics, finances work fundamentally differently than with drugs for cancer, for example, he explains.
‘The investments are about the same as with many other medicines. Antibiotics also often involve a development and testing period of about ten years, with exactly the same price tag as a medicine for rheumatism or cancer, for example. The big difference is that the payback time for antibiotics is much shorter. After a few years, growing resistance can already occur. Then you have to develop something new again. And it is precisely to prevent this resistance that doctors use new antibiotics sparingly. While that is sensible from a public health perspective, it obviously kills your business model completely. ‘
There are various new business models that offer opportunities, says Van Leeuwen.
The most interesting is perhaps the Netflix model. This assumes that hospitals purchase a subscription. They can then use unlimited antibiotics. Of course you do not want the use to be unlimited or excessive, but the crux is that you thereby separate the compensation from the use volume. With antibiotics, it is difficult to predict how many people will use them and when. Sometimes it lies unused on the shelf for years, and you suddenly need it urgently. ‘
Other models are also conceivable, says Van Leeuwen. He mentions a system in which the price of an antibiotic is linked to the health benefits it delivers. It is also conceivable that you work with an advanced purchase guarantee , a model in which the government is guaranteed to purchase a certain amount of the new antibiotic. That gives the developer the certainty that he will at least earn back a certain part of his investment. ‘