What it does
Open Orphan Plc was established in 2017 to build a platform that helps pharma companies commercialise their products in Europe, with a specific focus on drugs that treat rare diseases.
Since then, it has built a database of all the firms with orphan drugs that have either been approved or are currently going through the clinic.
Open Orphan has also put together a 4,000-strong directory of physicians and key opinion leaders with expertise in marketing and selling orphan drugs.
Normally, drug developers would have to pay a handsome fee to a third-party to help find those experts, but Open Orphan intends to undercut the market with a cheaper annual subscription which gives the drug companies access to the platform.
At the moment, Open Orphan is more of a ‘virtual rep’ service, which can be used to support the launch of new products or to promote mature brands.
But executive chairman Cathal Friel and his team want to grow the company into a full-service consultancy for orphan and rare disease drugs.
In January, Open Orphan merged with challenge trial specialist hVIVO PLC (LON:HVO), whose shareholders ended up owning around 44.7% of the combined entity.
How it is doing
In March, hVIVO began the world’s first human coronavirus challenge study.
Also known as a controlled human infection model, at its simplest, it is a method of testing potential vaccines against certain illnesses in a locked-down medical facility.
In April it started testing an anti-viral drug for treating coronavirus on behalf of its client Nearmedic International.
Nearmedic is a specialist pharmaceutical, biotechnological and medical business headquartered in Moscow; it is running tests using hVIVO's virology expertise and laboratory capability on an anti-viral drug that could potentially be used to combat SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) infections.
Also in April, Open Orphan signed a new contract with a US biotechnology company for the provision of a respiratory syncytial virus human challenge study, expected to rack up £3.5mln in revenue. This new contract follows the signing in March of another respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) human challenge contract, now underway, for an initial £3.2mln.
In May, this was followed by a manufacturing tie-up with Quotient Limited.
What the boss says: Cathal Friel, executive chairman
“The signing of this new £3.5mln contract with a US biotechnology company is further evidence of this exciting time as we successfully convert Open Orphan's pipeline of prospects into formal customer contracts."
"Open Orphan will be utilising its complementary in-house CRO services of hVIVO and Venn to deliver this contract. This contract demonstrates the Open Orphan and hVivo group's focus on building long term contracts with recurring revenues to deliver future profitability while ensuring rationalising the business and reduce costs.”