Joe W. Henein, President and CEO of NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, says bringing specialty medicines to the region will remain their key focus.
Dubai-based specialty therapeutics company NewBridge Pharmaceuticals may have only been around for less than a decade, but it has already made significant contribution to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s Pharmaceutical ecosystem.
“We look at ways to bridge the access gap; to bring innovative therapeutics, diagnostics and genomic testing from the West to address the region’s unmet medical needs,” said Joe Henein, President and CEO of NewBridge Pharmaceuticals. This exper- tise bodes well in a region that is dealing with an increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
The company, which was practically founded in 2010, has been responsible for delivering to the region some of the world’s most revolutionary medications, diagnostics and supportive care products which are approved in the UAE such as Abstral®, a fast-acting sublingual tablet for treating pain in cancer patients; Cimzia which treats rheumatoid arthritis; Neupro®, a patch used to treat signs and symptoms of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease; Halaven® for patients with metastatic breast cancer, and Oncotype DX® a diagnostic for patients with early-stage breast cancer. We are also in the process of introducing Lacosamide, a treatment as adjunctive therapy for partial onset seizures in Epilepsy.
NewBridge was able to respond to this critical demand in the pharmaceuticals industry by specializing in the in-licensing, acquisition, registration, and commercialization of therapeutics and diagnostics. “We will definitely continue to be aggressive with our in-licensing efforts because many of the innovations today come from small- and mid-size companies that are not present here. These firms find us as a good vehicle to introduce their product into the region,” Henein confirmed.
Attracting high-profile investors
NewBridge’s unique business model and strict adherence to a corporate integrity policy have offered a compelling value proposition to international investors such as Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III and Perrigo Company, as well as regional financiers like the Kuwait Life Sciences Company.
While the company has undoubtedly gained some traction in convincing regional investors, Henein admitted that more needs to be done to lure additional GCC investors to its shores. “Healthcare investing has different meanings to different investors. For example, some investors like acquiring tangible assets such as hospitals, clinics or manufacturing plants; while others prefer acquiring intellectual property (IP),” Henein explained. “I believe our model has proven more appealing to European and US investors. But local investors are also starting to pay attention and are keen to explore the value of our company.”
NewBridge, which covers many of the 22 countries in the MENA region, is currently very close to securing a fresh round of investment from a major sovereign fund.
The future of the company, according to Henein – who has over 30 years of experience in global and regional pharmaceutical industry – will focus on continuing efforts to bring innovative medicines to the region to mainly address prevalent diseases or improve quality of life for many of the regional patients who will be in need of these medicines, strengthening its reputation in the MENA pharmaceuticals market, and attracting more high-profile regional investors. “We like to have more participation from the GCC investors because NewBridge has put down roots here,” Henein said. Joe W. Henein, President and CEO of NewBridge Pharmaceuticals. Joe W. Henein, President and CEO of NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, says bringing specialty medicines to the region will remain their key focus.