Medtech ex­pert Di­aceu­tics passes global pharma test

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

world are not be­ing of­fered the most ap­pro­pri­ate tests or are be­ing of­fered them when it is too late in their treat­ment cy­cle,” says Peter. “Our fo­cus now is to work with hospitals, lab­o­ra­to­ries and clin­ics glob­ally in an ef­fort to en­sure bet­ter test­ing en­ables pa­tients get the right drugs at the right time. That’s what’s im­por­tant.”

The com­pany works al­most en­tirely in the ex­port mar­ket with 60pc of its work in the US, 30pc in Europe and the re­main­der in coun­tries rang­ing from Aus­tralia and Brazil to China. Among its clients are global pharma brands such as No­var­tis, GSK, As­tra Zeneca, Pfizer and BMS.

It has been an in­ter­est­ing ca­reer jour­ney for the man from Belfast. Hav­ing com­pleted a de­gree in busi­ness at Queen’s Univer­sity, Peter spent the next four years man­ag­ing a pharma busi­ness in Egypt for GSK. From there he re­lo­cated to In­done­sia for a fur­ther four-year stint where, at the age of only 28, he had re­spon­si­bil­ity for the run­ning of two large phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal fac­to­ries with more than 350 em­ploy­ees.

He then went on to work for a fur­ther three years in the US and Ja­pan be­fore tak­ing a year off to par­tic­i­pate in an ap­plied re­search project in MIT’S Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Pro­gramme at the Sloan School of Man­age­ment in Bos­ton. There, he worked on a col­lab­o­ra­tive study with MIT, the FDA and oth­ers on how best to cre­ate rad­i­cal change within health­care with a fo­cus on rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing a pa­tient’s di­ag­nos­tic health.

In 1996, Peter set up his first com­pany, called Di­ag­nol­ogy, which spe­cialised in di­ag­nos­tic tests for sex­u­ally-trans­mit­ted dis­eases where he en­coun­tered the need for the very changes in pa­tient test­ing that he had been study­ing at MIT. He was suc­cess­ful in get­ting sev­eral novel tests through the FDA but the lack of fund­ing even­tu­ally pre­vented him from align­ing suf­fi­cient in­cen­tives to cre­ate the change needed. He even­tu­ally sold the tech­nol­ogy on to a ma­jor US Lab­o­ra­tory and in 2005, set up Di­aceu­tics to fo­cus on how to de­velop a new busi­ness model around pa­tient test­ing.

“I set out to prove to the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try that bet­ter test­ing leads to bet­ter treat­ment and that pharma com­pa­nies should fo­cus more time on in­te­grat­ing test­ing into their treat­ment-cen­tric busi­ness model. I pre­sented some ini­tial re­search on this at a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal strat­egy con­fer­ence in Mi­ami when two se­nior phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ex­ec­u­tives in the au­di­ence, from GSK and As­tra Zeneca, reached out and said that they were ex­plor­ing this very same ques­tion in­ter­nally and asked if I could help them. Things took off from there,” says Peter.

His first few years in busi­ness were spent fig­ur­ing out the ex­act busi­ness model but by 2009, it be­came clear to Peter that 70pc of all fu­ture drugs com­ing on to the mar­ket would be de­pen­dent upon pre-test­ing pa­tients and that’s where he de­cided to fo­cus his ef­forts.

Cen­tral to this was build­ing a team of glob­ally based ex­perts across a ma­trix of three key ar­eas: lab­o­ra­tory staff such as pathol­o­gists and haema­tol­o­gists, com­mer­cial phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ex­ec­u­tives and those with di­ag­nos­tic ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We in­vested heav­ily in build­ing our lab­o­ra­tory net­work around the world with a fo­cus on im­ple­ment­ing qual­ity pa­tient test­ing in these key lab­o­ra­to­ries.

“In­stead of wait­ing years to get data from tests on phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, we be­gan putting in place con­tracts di­rectly with these lab­o­ra­to­ries so that we could to get access to real world data more quickly, even within a month or two of re­sults be­com­ing avail­able. This was in con­trast to pre­vi­ously hav­ing to of­ten wait years to get such data,” says Peter.

While most test roll­outs can take years to com­plete, Peter and his col­leagues have al­ready been in­volved in es­tab­lish­ing bet­ter test­ing for more than 200 drug launches. “With our growth rate run­ning at 50pc year-on-year for the last three years, we are re­ally only now get­ting into our stride,” says Peter. “We now have a three-year plan to fur­ther scale the busi­ness with plans for our first sig­nif­i­cant amount of ex­ter­nal cap­i­tal.

“It is re­ward­ing to know that we are help­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and health­care com­pa­nies around the world be­come even more ef­fec­tive with their tar­geted drugs. But even more im­por­tantly, it is mo­ti­vat­ing to see that we have al­ready helped some­where be­tween a half a mil­lion to a mil­lion pa­tients get access to test­ing and sub­se­quently to drugs that they might not oth­er­wise have got­ten. Be­ing dis­rup­tive in busi­ness is even more sat­is­fy­ing when you know that you are mak­ing a real dif­fer­ence to the lives of pa­tients around the world.” di­aceu­

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