It’s a phrase that has historically never roamed far beyond the corridors of pharmaceutical companies, but now—thanks to COVID 19—the term “clinical trials” has entered the vocabulary of the public at large.
Perhaps at no time in history have the “trials” that pharma companies use to generate data on the safety of a particular drug, vaccine, or treatment been as heavily scrutinized—and at no previous time has CFO Manmeet Soni of Reata Pharmaceuticals believed that the processes and approaches that govern Reata’s “trial design” have been more ripe for innovation.Read More
“Our learnings from the past 9 months are going to influence how we operate for the next 90 years,” explains Soni, who says that these learnings were put into motion last spring as COVID’s arrival shut down trials and began curtailing Reata’s data flows.
“That’s when we began asking: ‘Why can’t we do trials in a way similar to how home health services are provided? Why don’t we deliver the drug to the patient’s home?’” recalls Soni, who says that serving the company as both CFO as well COO allowed him to be more hands-on when it came time to tweak Reata’s “trial design” and the daily activities performed to keep trials on track.
“There will always be certain trials that will have to be completed at the lab, but the pandemic has allowed us to regularly consider how things can be done differently,” adds Soni, who believes that today’s impulse to regularly reconsider current methods and approaches is the biggest change to yesterday’s business as usual. –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us a little about Reata, please … what are your priorities for the next 12 months?
Soni: Reata Pharmaceuticals is focused on developing therapies for areas of high unmet need, and we place our attention on diseases for which there are very few or no approved therapies that exist today. Right now, we are focused on our first drug candidates for chronic kidney disease, which is caused by Alport syndrome. That’s our number one drug right now. The second indication on which we are working is Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare neurodegenerative disease. Both of these diseases are very rare in the United States and in the world, but neither has an approved therapy in the United States.Read More
I like joining companies that have a vision that’s about finding a cure for some disease or indication where there has been no therapy, and Reata was spot-on for that. What sets Reata apart, in my view, is its approach. I would say that my CEO had courage to step into and build within these unexplored frontiers, which are difficult to deal with and take so much longer. Reata has been in existence for the past 17 or 18 years, and right now we are at the cusp of getting this pivotal data and working on our NDA (new drug application) filing for a first indication.
I keep looking into the future to consider the impact of technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI) on the business. How is AI going to help us when it comes to doing research? Will 5 years’ worth of research be able to be done in, like, 6 months? Or 3 months? How will this impact what we do? I think that this is our focus and that this is what we will be spending some time and energy on for next 12 to 18 months.
Value Quote: “Our learnings from the past 9 months are going to influence how we operate for the next 90 years.” jb
Reata Pharmaceuticals | www.reatapharma.com | Plano, TX