viewOpen Orphan PLC

Open Orphan recruits hVIVO for its rare disease mission


  • Open Orphan reversed into Venn Life Sciences in June 2019
  • The plan was to establish one of Europe’s most comprehensive rare disease patient databases
  • Merger with hVIVO completed in January 2020 to create European full pharma services company
Open Orphan - Open Orphan PLC gets started on its rare disease mission

Quick facts: Open Orphan PLC

Price: 6.429 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £28.65 m

We now have an industry leading team with the ability to generate substantial revenue growth and profitability, delivering the leadership's vision to create a successful European full pharma services company

Trevor Phillips, chief executive



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, more than €3mln has been invested into the company, most of which has gone on building 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.

How it's doing

In January 2020, Open Orphan merged with challenge trial specialist hVIVO PLC (LON:HVO), whose shareholders ended up owning around 44.7% of the combined entity.

The directors of Open Orphan and hVIVO believe that the combination of the businesses will result in £3.1mln of operational synergies across the enlarged group in 2020, rising to £4.4mln in 2021.

Open Orphan intends to maintain the existing research and development activities of hVIVO, relative to supporting hVIVO's clinical developments services offering.

The group said it had a combined pipeline of more than £100mln and had signed its highest ever level of contracts at €10.5mln, plus an additional €4mln that was “at an advanced stage with clients”.

A number of joint pitches have already been submitted to hVIVO clients with the expanded service capability for contract research organisations (CRO) from Venn.

Trevor Phillips, boss of hVIVO, has become chief executive of the enlarged group and Cathal Friel executive chairman.

The company proposed a £5mln fundraising designed to provide the stronger balance sheet to help hVIVO to convert its pipeline of proposals.


What the boss says

“We now have an industry leading team with the ability to generate substantial revenue growth and profitability, delivering the leadership's vision to create a successful European full pharma services company,” said Phillips, post merger.

“With the now complementary and wider specialist CRO services offering, it gives us the opportunity to generate substantially larger revenues and over the full-time course of the customer relationship.”






Inflexion points

  • First pharma companies and advocacy groups sign up for genomic health data platform
  • Revenues start to be generated from virtual rep platform


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Full interview: Open Orphan confirms hVIVO deal is done

Cathal Friel, CEO of Open Orphan announces that the hVIVO deal is finally in the bag and tells Proactive London what the timeline for shareholders now looks like. News here on the Genomic Database and how Friel expects hVIVO to make a profit. Confirmation too on the slight musical chairs within...

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