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 November, we spoke with John V. Oyler, Chairman, co-Founder, and Chief Executive Officer of BeiGene. Over the years, Mr. Oyler has led a variety of healthcare companies including BioDuro, LLC, a drug discovery outsourcing company, Galenea Corp., a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery of therapies for central nervous system diseases and Genta Inc., an oncology‑focused biopharmaceutical company. Mr. Oyler joined the Board of Directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) 2019 and is a member of its Health Section Governing Board.
Tell us about your organization, its mission, and current initiatives.
BeiGene is a fully-integrated, commercial, global biopharmaceutical company with broad capabilities spanning research, clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization. Our mission is to build the first next-generation biopharmaceutical company — one that expands the highest quality therapies to billions more people — through courage, persistent innovation, and challenging the status quo.
Over the last nine years, the company has developed a broad portfolio of six internally developed, clinical-stage, oncology drug candidates, including three in late-stage clinical development, zanubrutinib (BTK inhibitor), tislelizumab (anti-PD-1 antibody), and pamiparib (PARP inhibitor).
We also cultivated partnerships around the world, in-licensed seven drugs and drug candidates, including three marketed drugs in China (ABRAXANE®, REVLIMID® and VIDAZA®) under an exclusive license from Celgene Corporation, and four clinical-stage drug candidates with development and commercialization rights in China and other select countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Our tagline – Cancer has no borders. Neither do we – speaks to BeiGene’s unique model and opportunity. We operate with a collaborative spirit born out of our joint Chinese and American heritage and we are established as a leader in running China-inclusive clinical trials that can accelerate global drug development. We’re currently running 60+ clinical trials, with 26 trials in Phase 3 or potentially registration enabling, across our broad pipeline.
Founded in Beijing in 2010, BeiGene listed on NASDAQ in February 2016 and on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in August 2018. Currently, the company has a team of approximately 3,000 employees across the globe, including approximately 600 employees in our four U.S. offices.
How does your organization’s activities help patients now and into the future?
With approximately 4.3 million new cancer patients in 2018, China has as many cancer patients as the U.S. and EU combined and is the second largest pharmaceutical market in the world by revenue. It’s a dynamic market with expanding reimbursement, increasing patient affordability, and evolving regulatory policy that complies with international standards.
We’re working to create impactful medicines that will be affordable and accessible to far more cancer patients around the world. One of the ways we do this is by applying cutting-edge science for the development of life changing therapies. We’re proud of our efforts and the work of our innovation team which consists of 300 dedicated scientists who are challenged with the mission of developing tomorrow’s medicines.
We are focused on cancer and advancing a pipeline of novel oral small molecules and monoclonal antibodies. We hope that what we do at BeiGene will contribute to improving the lives of patients who are diagnosed with cancer.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life science industry today?
It is a very exciting time to be working in the life science industry, but one of the biggest challenges we see today is access. That is why our work at BeiGene is rooted in a simple yet comprehensive philosophy – – BeiGene medicines must be accessible to patients who need them. Cancer is a disease that afflicts people irrespective of age, sex, socioeconomic background, ethnicity or where they live. It is our responsibility to patients and to society to bring innovative, quality treatments to markets at a price that is affordable.
What’s next for your organization / what are you focused on in the coming year?
One of our lead investigational compounds, zanubrutinib, a potent and highly selective BTK inhibitor designed to maximize BTK occupancy and minimize off-target effects, has shown potential in a number of B-cell malignancies. Our New Drug Application (NDA) was accepted and designated Priority Review by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of lymphoma. We are focused on successfully bringing this treatment option to patients who may benefit from it. We are excited to work with the FDA as it reviews our submission and are building our commercial team to execute a world-class launch of this important medicine.
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