The art of repositioning drugs: An interview with NovaLead Pharma’s Supreet Deshpande

Inventing a new drug requires huge financial commitment and it’s a lengthy process until it reaches patients in need. However, discovering a new application of an already clinically-approved drug saves you both time and allows you to fully utilise the power of your existing arsenal. Since the original drug application has a known function and toxicity, drug repurposing saves time and cost for a developer in bringing out a drug to the market.

Funded by top tier venture investors, NovaLead Pharma is an award winning India-based drug discovery company focuses on discovering new indications of generic drugs. The entire discovery research of NovaLead is done in-house and it currently has a pipeline of over US $10 billion p.a. We invited the founder and chairman of NovaLead, Mr. Supreet Deshpande to join us at the 14th BioPharma India 2016 and ahead of him joining us, we interviewed him to seek his thoughts on the following questions.

 

What sparked the establishment of NovaLead?

Deshpande: After over a decade in India’s corporate world, a strange internal restlessness set in me to get involved in something which will have lasting impact on human life. At the time, I was involved in the IT sector. Curiosity of how IT could influence the most serendipitous and inefficient Drug discovery process in improving early stage predictability in 2002 was the starting point of an enthralling journey, which led to the formation of Novalead Pharma in 2008.

In this process, we developed India’s first end-to-end molecular modeling and simulation technology platform, which is the prime enabler for the highly knowledge intensive and financially frugal research programs of NovaLead.

How is NovaLead going to disrupt the biotech industry in India?

Deshpande: NovaLead’s research is not focused on NCEs but on drug repurposing which in itself is a differentiated approach to discover new pharmaceutical products. We focus on discovering new therapeutic indications for existing drugs already approved by USFDA whose behavior in humans is well established, making ‘safety’ which accounts for almost 40% of late stage failures, a non issue. NovaLead’s technology platform enables NovaLead’s business model to be quite efficient in that it allows benefiting from the upside potential of an NCE program at significantly mitigated late stage failure risk.

What’s the next promising pipeline which you are proud to share with our readers?

Deshpande: NovaLead’s pipeline has many promising new indication candidates at different stages of development. Our lead candidate Galnobax®, a topical gel for the treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcer (DFU), recently completed global Phase I / II clinical trial with a clear road map for approval agreed with USFDA. Apart from Galnobax, NovaLead is pursuing other new indication candidates in Venous ulcers, Pressure ulcers, Psorisis, Diabetic Neuropathy, Alopecia and Eczema, which are in various stages of development.

What do you enjoy the most founding and running NovaLead?

Deshpande: My dream behind founding NovaLead is to initiate something novel and truly innovative, creating a perpetually evolving and exciting business. NovaLead’s innovative drug repurposing proprietary platform is just that. What I enjoy most in NovaLead is being part of a team of highly passionate, motivated, resilient and innovative people sharing a common goal – a goal of bringing hope for millions of people suffering from therapeutically under-served diseases with new therapeutic products which are effective, safe and affordable.

What is your advice to young entrepreneurs who wish to look into starting a biotech company in India?

Deshpande: Well, I am hardly qualified to give advice. All I can do is share my learnings. But the most important is that if you are convinced about an approach, pursue it passionately. And in doing so, be open to question your own conviction and be ready to accept superior reasoning and logic. At the end of the day, always be true to yourself and never forget that it is the team which delivers – be it family, investors or colleagues, and never underestimate the contribution of critics. On the practical side, I learnt to use funding prudently while building the business: the success of your entrepreneurial venture depends on that. Being captain of the ship, remember that your team looks up to you especially in tough times.

Have a business proposal for Deshpande or wish to meet him in person? Join us at the 14th BioPharma India 2016 this November which is attended by more than 300 senior level decision makers. Meet Despande and likeminded peers in Mumbai on 15-16 November to partner with innovative biotech and pharma companies in India.

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