“Licensing our proprietary drug delivery technology through mutually beneficial collaborations is our core business strategy, but we mainly focus our attention on well-established companies as our ultimate interest is getting to market through sound science and economic business relationships.”
Emisphere’s market cap sextupled in 2018. What was the key reason behind this?
Within our 33 years of existence, Emipshere has become a leading company in converting injectable therapeutics into advanced oral formulations. You asked about why our market cap rapidly increased to over US$300 million in 2018. We do not speculate or predict investor motivations behind market behaviours, but the most recent market reaction coincided with a series of data releases of the 10-pioneer phase III clinical trials initiated by Novo Nordisk. Novo extensively planned and communicated to the investment community when the studies would be done, and they were able to execute perfectly. Emisphere’s technology partnered with Novo’s molecule has the potential to offer significant new solutions to millions of people with diabetes worldwide. Novo’s results serves to further validate our Eligen technology.
Given the success of your Eligen proprietary drug delivery technology, what has Emisphere’s strategy been?
Licensing our proprietary drug delivery technology through mutually beneficial collaborations is our core business strategy, but we mainly focus our attention on well-established companies as our ultimate interest is getting to market through sound science and economic business relationships. We strategically follow a partnership approach focused on pharma and biotech.
Our partners leverage our broad experience in researching, developing and manufacturing various carriers that utilize our unique intracellular delivery mechanism of action in order to advance their oral portfolio products. Our technology can enhance the clinical profile of both pre-market and currently marketed products, but the therapeutics that we typically target are at an advanced stage of development, de-risked or have already received regulatory approval and are currently available on the market. The main objective when partnering is for companies to utilize our broad-based proprietary oral drug delivery platform to increase the bioavailability of their product significantly, as well as to facilitate the enhanced absorption of small and large molecules without compromising their chemical form, biological integrity or pharmacological properties.
Could you provide further insights into Emisphere’s Eligen technology and its key differentiator?
Our technology may increase the benefit of a therapy by improving bioavailability, absorption or by decreasing time of onset. Therapeutic molecules can be delivered orally without altering the molecule’s chemical form or biological activity. Eligen is particularly focused on the oral delivery of peptides, proteins, oligonucleotides, oligosaccharides and various small molecules.
The key differentiation and advantage of our Eligen carriers is that they have a weak interaction between the API and our carrier, which significantly decreases the time to onset of action (which is almost immediate). Our technology also uses intracellular transport versus going between the tight junctions of the cells. The carrier is a chaperone that quickly takes the API through the epithelium into the stomach and then into the bloodstream, which then allows for rapid absorption of the drug.
Emisphere launched Eligen B12™, the first oral prescription tablet proven to normalize B12 levels without the need for an injection, in 2015. What have been the results of its market launch?
The Eligen B12 was launched on the market in 2015 as a prescription medical food indicated for the dietary management of patients who have a diagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency, associated with a disease or condition that cannot be managed by a modification of the normal diet alone. Eligen B12 uses innovative technology to enable B12 absorption directly into the bloodstream independent of intrinsic factors. Based on new CMS guideline changes, we took advantage of those changes and moved Eligen B12 to a non-Rx medical food to make it easily available to patients through Amazon.com or Eligenb12.com. Currently, we are enjoying positive growth trends on the product aided by a small, targeted promotional effort. We have expressly pursued this effort to prove concept, which has been successful in securing multiple new business development discussions with much larger commercial partners who can more fully exploit the Eligen B12 oral product.
What are Emisphere’s key objectives for 2019?
Emisphere aims to continue expanding on our partnerships, whether it is with additional molecules with Novo or through a number of other non-disclosed partners that are either in the feasibility or optimization stage. Hopefully a few of these promising leads will translate into full development projects, which may provide Emisphere with upfront payments, development and sales milestones, plus royalties, which are the core of our business model.