CRITICAL PIVOT

UAE, Dubai 2015 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Joe Henein, CEO of NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, on competitive advantages and future investments.

Since its foundation in 2010, what were some of the pivotal factors that have shaped the company up until this point?

There are there key pivots that shaped our company and defined what we are today. Remember that NewBridge Pharmaceuticals is truly an innovative business model. It's a free enterprise backed by investors, not a family business, that hopefully and ultimately will be traded on one of the listed stock exchanges. This model in this shape and form didn't exist in the space nor the geographies we are in. So our first critical pivot is our ability to be the partner of choice for a number of big pharma companies from the likes of UCB, Eisai, Actavis, and Genomic Health for some of their innovative therapeutics or molecular diagnostics in the whole region. The second defining factor of our success is our ability to raise capital. Since NewBridge's inception, we have raised close to $70 million and we are about to close on another round of financing to get us a little shy than $100 million in capital over the last five years. Last but not least by any means, is our ability to attract a diverse regional pool of talent. Our team is strong, experienced, entrepreneurial, and driven. These are the traits of the “NewBridgers" as we refer to ourselves. Through these talents we were able to establish a very competitive force in the space where we compete. With all these three pivots, we have been able to establish a strong name for ourselves in a short period of time and really stand out given our small size.

What competitive advantages do you offer to the market that makes partners and investors particularly keen to work with you?

When you look at the pharmaceutical industry today, you see innovation coming from two categories: big pharma, and small or midsize companies, with a lot of innovation coming from biotech companies. When these small or mid-size companies want to reach the world, their initial focus is usually the US, Europe, and Japan. As for the rest of the world, they usually prefer a partnering model, and depending on the country or the region in question they usually prefer a regional partner and this was the white space and niche we found for ourselves. These innovative companies usually want to access emerging markets, get a piece of the action and the growth, but at the same time they don't want to establish structures themselves in each country or region. They have a very focused strategy and also finite resources, hence the partnering model. NewBridge Pharmaceuticals observed this growing trend, hence acted and positioned itself accordingly. MENA, with all its population, still only represents around 2% of the total global pharmaceutical market and it is very fragmented. This has put pressure on some of the smaller companies to elect not to be physically present here, but rather look for partners who can become an extension to their values, their best practices, and their compliance to market their products. That's where NewBridge comes in; we have the expertise, network, and the distribution channels, to drive innovative pharmaceutical products to the market and be the one-stop solution to these companies across multiple geographies.

What is the outlook for future investment and partnership with NewBridge?

The next big thing on our horizon is taking a look at partnerships and investment on much larger levels. Frankly speaking, there is a lot of interest from regional investors and outsiders from the US and Europe who are ready now to engage and take us to the next level up. The next level up for us is a number of things. We proved to ourselves that we have the ability to attract big partners and work with them on big brands. We have proved to ourselves that we are trustworthy and capable partner of choice that meet our partners high demands of compliance, quality, and performance. We will continue to do what we are doing best and improve further on same direction—that is the mainstay of our business. However, we need to take NewBridge to another place as well, where we become the MAH and owner of number of products. This could be achieved through M&A efforts on brands or plants, and we are looking into both. We will be able to achieve this by partnering with regional investors who like our story, want to invest in healthcare and partner with us in this journey. As they say, “you have to look back to see ahead," and when I look back to what we were able to do with this company on the partnering and the financing front over a relatively short period of time, I feel very optimistic for the outlook and the future of this company.