I was privileged to work at Sanofi for 21 years, where I had the opportunity to be deeply involved in both technical and business aspects of innovative product development, partnership management, as well as the Contract Development & Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) business. The broad expertise I gained in research and development, API manufacturing, and commercial operations prepared me well to take the helm of Seqens CDMO North America, the U.S. subsidiary of Seqens Group, a highly regarded integrated global leader in pharmaceutical synthesis and specialty ingredients with 3000 employees worldwide, include more than 300 scientists, engineers and other experts.
Changes in big pharma spell opportunity for Seqens CDMO
In recent years, with big pharmas no longer doing as much drug discovery or development in-house, instead acquiring assets and smaller companies, the chance to head Seqens CDMO North America was irresistible. It’s a unique opportunity to integrate my enjoyment of working on the technical as well as the business sides of the business, both of which I know so well. It is just as easy for me to have a conversation with members of our R&D teams about the chemistry, which I enjoy greatly, as it is to execute mutually beneficial agreements with our partners worldwide.
Seqens – a history of investing in cutting-edge technology
Another major factor that played a role in my decision to join Seqens is the company’s investment in cutting-edge technology. Since its founding, the company has remained at the forefront of efficient drug development and manufacturing. A world leader in biocatalysis, highly potent API (HPAPI), and continuous manufacturing, Seqens is so highly regarded in Europe that Emmanuel Macron, President of France, traveled to the opening of our newest major pharmaceutical technology investment, our dedicated HPAPI plant in Villeneuve-La-Garenne in August, 2020
That Seqens invested $35 million (€30 million) in HPAPI, clearly demonstrated to me the company’s desire to develop and industrialize the most complex molecules while maintaining a high level of performance in terms of quality, safety, and respect for the environment.
The COVID pandemic presents a new manufacturing model
As the pharma industry was evolving, the world was hit with the COVID pandemic, and in so many ways it completely changed people’s mindsets. Five to ten years ago, critical materials were sourced offshore, mainly from China and India, yet the process starts to reverse. It became evident that it was necessary to manufacture critical materials and essential drugs within Western countries to avoid shortages. That is a very good opportunity for API manufacturers to get more government support and grow the business. Seqens is actively participating and contributing to the US government’s initiatives on manufacturing for 100 Essential Medicines in the US. It cemented my thinking that it was the right time to get back to the CDMO business.
Plans for U.S. operations
Seqens CDMO NA’s location in the Boston area, a world-renowned life sciences hub, presents enormous opportunities to provide our expertise, as well as our spirit of innovation to become a global CDMO destination.
We are in the midst of developing a five-year plan that will expand capacity, GMP manufacturing and pharmaceutical technology at Seqens CDMO North America while integrating with our capabilities in Europe and Asia. Part of that plan includes expanding our two U.S. facilities, R&D laboratory in Devens, MA and GMP manufacturing facility in Newburyport, MA.
We continue to speed processes, a change welcomed by sponsors, but what won’t change is our commitment to service and quality. We will enhance our ability to offer and execute on massive additional opportunities worldwide to sponsors large and small.
Applying the three most important lessons learned
Even as world events continue to change the supply and demand equation, some things remain constant. In more than two decades with a 360-degree view of this business, the three most important lessons I’ve learned are:
- Building trust with different partners, with different cultures, is key.
- A CDMO must deliver quality service.
- Clear and open communication builds trust.
How we are building high performing teams
We know we need to be competitive to assemble high-performing teams with the right people in the right positions. We know we need to motivate our people and those who would join us, and we are. What we offer is:
- A work environment where we consider people’s interests as important as their strengths.
- The opportunity to work on the cutting edge of pharmaceutical development in terms of both technology and environmental consciousness.
- A chance to work on international teams tackling the most challenging chemistry and therapeutics projects.
- A team approach where ideas are welcome and encouraged.
- Numerous opportunities to work on quality projects and grow your career with Seqens North America.
- Needless to say, a competitive package.
The future is looking bright for CDMOs, and Seqens is well positioned to take advantage of it to the benefit of our sponsors, employees and partners. I’m looking forward to the journey.