Dr Carlo Incerti, senior vice president-global market access, Genzyme Corporation
BioSpectrum spoke to Dr Carlo Incerti, senior vice president-global market access of Genzyme Corporation which is known to be a pioneer in the area. Read on for details:
Q: Given the possibility of lesser returns, why did Genzyme decide to choose rare diseases as its focus area at the time of its inception?
When I joined Genzyme about twenty five years ago, it was a small company. In those days, the vast majority of companies such as Amgen, Genetic and others were focussed on discovery of blockbuster drugs. Focus obviously was on volume. When the founders of Genzyme took up the challenge of finding solutions for rare diseases, big pharma companies showed disinterest in the idea as the number of patients was less and thus meant lesser return on investments. However, the founders were fascinated by the elegant science. The intracellular replacement of enzyme within an organ was an interesting phenomenon. They were convinced that it was a mathematical need. It was good science that aimed at changing lives of people successfully and creates platforms for others to follow. That was the cause behind Genzyme's inception.
Also, legislation passed later in the US about rare diseases providing exclusivity to orphan drugs also helped in securing the return on investments. That led to increase in the number of companies. There was an academia, industry and legislative framework. It was a great alchemy. In fact, I feel that the real personalized medicine is here where you cater to individual requirements by developing medicines through identification of his genotype. The affected population thus gets benefitted by such interventions.
Q: What kind of operations is Genzyme running in India? What are the needs here?
In India, we started in 1990 when there was only an individual first and then the entrepreneurial spirit took over. Slowly it gained momentum and we have made our presence felt. We believe that India with its huge population needs attention. It takes years here to diagnose diseases. The pain of a family is aggravated because the local practitioner is not educated enough to diagnose. The dissemination of information is important here. We as a company are looking at two therapeutic areas. We have developed two therapeutics for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). One oral and another intravenous monoclonal antoibody that is promising. Practically, a new modulation for relapsing MS.