60 seconds with... Michael Meyers
In Miami you are speaking in a super plenary discussing the predicted state of the industry in the next 15 years. If the audience left with one message from your contribution to this talk, what would it be?
I believe that the life sciences industry will look quite different in 15 years as compared to 2019. We should consider the following verticals when considering this question, i) Science and Technology; ii) Regulatory/Clinical Development; iii) Reimbursement; iv) Payors; and iv) Government.
Science will continue to evolve to the point of being able to thoroughly sequence individual cells, where academia and industry will have highly specific biological targets available for further research. In addition, I believe that we will crack-the-code with respect to immune surveillance, particularly as this relates to solid tumors and the microenvironment. I do believe that in this regard, combination therapies will be required in order to effectively access the microenvironment and subsequently treat tumors. Our ability to deliver cellular and gene therapies will not be limited by the size of the cell or gene of interest. In this regard, whether by viral vector or less immunogenic approaches, we will be able to deliver whole genes efficiently. Finally, I believe that we will do a better job with respect to transplant or graft rejection, neuro-toxicity, tumor lysis syndrome, and other rate-limiting side effects.
Next, I believe that based on Commissioner Gottlieb’s extraordinary insights, determination and implementation of policy, we will see the benefits of his work well beyond his tenure for decades to come. In this regard, real-world design, basket studies, the acceptance of historical controls for unaddressed dreaded diseases, the ability to utilize de-identified patient records linked to genotype in order to speed targeted therapies, the substantial expansion of liquid biopsies in screening and diagnosing disease and also serving as a prognostic tool, will all come into play over the next 15 years.
Reimbursement trends will favor payment for improved outcomes. This will be especially true as payors and providers continue to consolidate. In addition, I believe that over the next decade a majority of U.S.-based practicing physicians will be employed by health systems or health plans, as compared to independent practices. These trends will drive the requirement for ever more novelty in drug development, and, therefore, this is where more venture investment will flow. Given payor consolidation where the line of demarcation between providers, plans and intermediaries further blurs, reimbursement will be provided on an added-value basis. Payors and providers will rely more on AI and machine learning in order to influence treatment pathways, which in-turn should provide much better outcomes across the healthcare continuum.
Given the development of cell and gene therapies that may be curative, however, we will see bolus pricing in the millions of dollars range. I believe that governments will be required to form risk sharing or capital guaranty arrangements with insurers; or directly fund certain cellular therapies, while also looking to the capital markets or re-insurance products for certain solutions.
One of the themes we are exploring in Miami is building better cross-industry relationships in the hope it will substantially shorten time to market for advanced therapies. What do you think are the biggest challenges to achieving this currently?
While there will continue to be challenges to cross-industry tie-ups in order to reduce the cumulative probability of success of developing new therapies, I am hopeful that we will see barriers continue to fall in this regard. It makes perfect sense for pharma, biopharma, informatics, sequencing, diagnostic and prognostic companies to come together in order to bend the curve of drug discovery, research and development.
In academia, for example, important variables such as faculty development and public mission may continue to be at odds with for-profit collaborations. Many PIs are focused on their discrete projects, grants and support of programs that aid in career development, often at the expense of collaboration. Frankly, our firm is working on creative solutions to public-to-public collaboration, or a team-science driven approach within academia, and subsequently in collaboration with industry. Often faculty has a financial incentive via Bayh-Dole to not share their work openly since the first inventor cited on a key patent has a substantial financial incentive to sequester their work. And industry is often in a position of researching and developing therapies for the same biological targets. Here too, companies want to be the first to market and often first to publish or to patent, rather than collaborating. While these structural challenges exist, I believe that the future is bright in respect of public and private collaborations, especially given the recent examples driven by The Cancer Trust, Mike Bloomberg, Sean Parker, BMS, Celgene, Novartis, Roche, Johnson & Johnson, and academic institutions such as Mount Sinai, Columbia, Penn, Hopkins, Dana Farber, Fred Hutchinson, UCLA and USC, among other leading academic institutions.
What are you hoping to get out of the Miami event?
Given the multi-disciplinary wealth of talent from around the globe that characterizes the WSCS - Phacilitate event, I hope to be able to, i) listen and learn in order to further anticipate the future of new therapies; ii) identify leading companies where we can provide strategic advice, or provide investment capital; and iii) to find collaboration partners for two of our portfolio and advisory companies, Cell BT, an emerging leader in immunotherapy, and Tivorsan Pharmaceuticals, that is advancing its lead product candidate, TVN-102, to treat a range of neurodegenerative diseases and disorders.
Michael Meyers is the current President and Head of Investment Banking at T.R. Winston & Company.
Mr Meyers will be taking part in the Joint Pre-Conference Super Plenary on Tuesday 22nd January at Phacilitate Leaders World and World Stem Cell Summit 2019. To find out who else will be taking part, click here.