Member Spotlight: Q&A with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Dec 02, 2019

Every month, MassBio spotlights a member company and the great work they’re doing to advance the life sciences industry and support the patients we serve. In December, we spoke with Barry Greene, President of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. Barry joined Alnylam in 2003 and has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries. In his current role, he provides key oversight and leadership in the commercialization of RNAi therapeutics around the world.

Tell us about your organization, its mission, and current initiatives

At Alnylam, we have led the translation of RNA interference (RNAi) into a new class of innovative medicines with the potential to transform the lives of people afflicted with rare genetic, cardio-metabolic, hepatic infectious, and central nervous system/ocular diseases. Based on Nobel Prize-winning science, RNAi therapeutics represent a powerful, clinically validated approach for the treatment of a wide range of devastating diseases with high unmet medical need.

In 2018, we launched ONPATTRO® (patisiran), the first-ever RNAi therapeutic to be approved for the treatment of the polyneuropathy of hereditary ATTR (hATTR) amyloidosis in the U.S., European Union, Switzerland, Canada, and Japan. Today, our second investigational RNAi therapeutic givosiran is under review by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of acute hepatic porphyria (AHP). With several other investigational therapies currently in late-stage development for the treatment of the cardiomyopathy of ATTR amyloidosis, primary hyperoxaluria type 1 (PH1), hemophilia and hypercholesterolemia, we are rapidly delivering on the promise of this new class of medicines.

How does your organization’s activities help patients now and into the future?

Ever since we saw the therapeutic potential of RNAi in early experiments in roundworms, we have been singularly focused on transforming this groundbreaking science into medicine for patients as quickly as possible – holding deep belief in our science even when others lost hope. This same tenacity drives everything we do as a company and our work in service of patients.

Developed even before we launched our first medicine, our Patient Access Philosophy is the compass that guides our mission to get medicines to people who need them most. For example, we partner with patient advocacy groups, healthcare providers and payers to support disease awareness, diagnosis, and access efforts and establish responsible pricing practices. Additionally, through our support program, Alnylam Assist®, we offer services that guide patients through treatment with our medicine, including financial assistance options and a dedicated team of counselors that help patients make educated decisions about their treatment and care. We make every effort to ensure that our treatments fit the lives of patients, and not the other way around.  

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life sciences industry today?

Our industry faces many challenges, but I think the most pressing issue is the need for greater diversity and inclusion within our industry leadership. Creating the next generation of medicines means we must bring in creative minds regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, and it’s incumbent upon us leaders to set an example from the very top.

At Alnylam, we’ve been an ardent proponent of promoting diversity in the life sciences and I’m fortunate to serve as co-executive sponsor of our diversity and inclusive initiative. We’ve also implemented unconscious bias training to all employees, starting with senior executives across multiple functions. These efforts and others by organizations like MassBio – which is actively promoting diversity by prohibiting all-male panels at its programs and events – can make a real difference in ensuring we have the best and brightest minds the field has to offer to help us continue to innovate.

What’s next for your organization / what are you focused on in the coming year?

Today, our focus is on achieving our 2020 goals of building a multi-product, global commercial company with a deep clinical pipeline for continued growth and a robust product engine for sustainable innovation.

We’re focused on delivering ONPATTRO® (patisiran) for hATTR amyloidosis to patients around the world, rapidly preparing to launch our investigational RNAi therapeutic givosiran for AHP, and advancing late-stage trials for lumasiran, an investigational RNAi therapeutic for the treatment of primary hyperoxaluria type 1 (PH1).

All the while, we’re pushing the boundaries of RNAi by discovering new medicines for hard-to-treat diseases of the central nervous system, eye and liver, in conjunction with our partner Regeneron. We’re excited about the future of RNAi, and the opportunity to harness the power of this revolutionary science for other, more common diseases as well.

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