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 July, we spoke with Cheryl Blanchard, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Anika Therapeutics, Inc. Prior to Cheryl’s work as an executive officer with Anika, she served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Microchips Biotech, Inc., a venture-backed biotechnology company developing regenerative medicine and drug delivery products, from 2014 until its sale to Daré Bioscience, Inc. in November 2019.
Tell us about your organization, its mission, and current initiatives.
At Anika, we are passionate about advancing and promoting early intervention orthopedic care. We partner with clinicians to understand what they need most to treat their patients and achieve the best possible outcomes. Since the company was founded in 1992, Anika has evolved into a leader in joint preservation by creating and commercializing meaningful treatments for osteoarthritis pain management and regenerative therapies. We develop solutions based on our proprietary hyaluronic acid technology and we’ve expanded our portfolio through thoughtful acquisitions to include sports medicine soft tissue repair products and bone-preserving joint technologies.
Our innovative therapies, treatments and bone-sparing implants bridge the gap in joint preservation and restoration by providing expansive early intervention treatment options that allow patients to delay or avoid a more invasive total joint replacement. It is our mission to restore active living for millions of people experiencing joint pain and soft tissue injuries and get them back to the activities they love faster and with fewer restrictions through minimally invasive procedures.
How does your organization’s activities help patients now and into the future?
Joint pain, arthritis and orthopedic injuries can take a tremendous toll on a patient’s quality of life. The number of Americans living with these chronic conditions is growing at a fast rate. According to a CDC study, the number of men and women in the U.S. with arthritis is expected to reach more than 78 million by 2040.
Recommended treatments for orthopedic conditions like traditional total joint replacements are often extremely invasive and come with long-term activity restrictions that limit a patient’s ability to participate in the activities they love like golf, running, gardening and even picking up their children or grandchildren.
Anika’s comprehensive portfolio of joint preservation products can help patients manage their pain, stay active and in some cases, slow the progression of osteoarthritis. We are committed to delivering meaningful advancements in orthopedic care with solutions ranging from injections to sports medicine procedures to partial or minimally invasive bone-sparing joint replacements. The goal is to allow patients to remain active and continue to participate in their daily activities comfortably following an orthopedic procedure.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life sciences industry today?
Disruption is everywhere in the life sciences industry. In addition to the myriad of challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, MedTech companies like ours are also responding to new patient expectations, an increase in outpatient procedures in ambulatory surgical centers, changing reimbursement models and regulatory hurdles. Over the last year, Anika has completely transformed to meet these challenges and become a more patient-centric and provider-focused organization.
We’ve embraced a startup mentality, bringing experienced and talented people together and increasing the velocity of innovation. This has had a tremendously positive impact on our product pipeline. We’re also fortunate to have the financial resources to allow us to be very agile. Many organizations don’t have that secure footing when they embark on such a transformative journey.
What’s next for your organization / what are you focused on in the coming year?
At Anika, we’re focused on expanding options for patients looking for less invasive, early intervention orthopedic solutions. Our robust product pipeline includes several regenerative therapies that leverage our propriety hyaluronic acid technology and support cell-mediated regeneration of bone, soft tissues, and cartilage. We’ve also entered the sports medicine market with six soft tissue repair products including a new suture anchor to treat increasingly common rotator cuff tears. Finally, we’ll soon launch a new motion and bone-preserving product to treat wrist arthritis that removes less bone and allows patients to continue performing daily tasks that require grip, strength and wrist rotation, like golf and writing, pain free.
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