The emerging markets, with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as the dominant players, are predicted to account for 40 percent of the worldwide pharmaceutical market by 2020. These markets offer a growing patient population with large unmet medical needs, however, the market remains underserved due to high price sensitivity.
The California-based startup Bird Rock Bio, formerly known as RuiYi, develop first and best-in-class antibody therapeutics for unique and emerging markets with significant medical need. Their current pipeline consist of a novel anti IL-6 antibody, gerilimzumab. IL-6 is a well-validated target for rheumatoid arthritis, and has also been shown to be involved in diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, atherosclerosis and multiple cancers.
The company recently revealed positive safety results from two clinical studies on gerilimzumab for the treatment of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, as well as only requiring one subcutaneous injection every eight weeks. While current rheumatoid arthritis treatments can cost up to $40,000 annually per patient, gerilimzumab is expected to cost as low as $2,000 per patient. This could significantly expand global access to an optimal therapy for 20 million rheumatoid arthritis patients, potentially saving billions of dollars on healthcare expenditure.
The startup’s pipeline also include RYI-018, a therapeutic antibody to address fibrotic and metabolic disease, including the emerging epidemic nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is one of the largest contributors to liver failure, and there is currently no approved treatments to the potentially fatal condition. RIY-018 is the only known peripheral antagonist antibody to the cannabinoid receptor 1, a well-validated target for NASH. Although the therapy is only in IND-enabling studies, with filing expected in late 2016, it is believed that it will provide a novel approach for the treatment of NASH.
Bird Rock Bio has developed an innovative strategy of targeting emerging markets with significant medical need, which combined with novel biologic therapeutics have the potential to disrupt the industry. Most importantly, they have products that can be priced to expand global access of best-in-class treatments, both improving quality and potentially saving millions of lives.