News - October 24, 2023
EUCOPE Member Spotlight: Q&A with Deciphera
Every month, EUCOPE spotlights a member company and the great work they’re doing to advance the life sciences industry and drive innovation to serve patients better. In October, we spoke with Margarida Duarte, Senior Vice President, Head of International, Deciphera Pharmaceuticals.
Margarida Duarte is Senior Vice President, Head of International at Deciphera Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Duarte has over 15 years of experience in the global pharmaceutical industry and previous leadership roles in commercial, marketing, and strategy, along with experience leading cross functional teams in medical, regulatory, supply chain, and G&A. Prior to joining Deciphera, she served as Vice President, Head of Commercial Canada, Europe, and Middle East and Africa for Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
Tell us about your organisation and its mission and how you drive innovation internally?
Deciphera is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing important new medicines to improve the lives of people with cancer. We leverage our proprietary switch-control kinase inhibitor platform and deep expertise in kinase biology to develop innovative medicines in oncology and to continuously evolve our research pipeline. Deciphera’s first commercial product is approved in over 12 countries, and we began our European operations in 2021.
I helped launch several drugs in Europe over the course of my career, which has taught me a great deal about what goes into a successful launch in this region. In my recent experience at Deciphera, we were able to launch 12 months after our first hire in Europe (myself), which is an exceptional result from start up to market entry.
My role at Deciphera is to continue to build an efficient international infrastructure comprised of a top notch cross-functional team that is responsible for rolling out multiple launches in the European Union, Switzerland, and the UK and in several other international markets through partnerships with distributors. Additionally, I am focused on preparing for additional new drug launches as we will look to achieve regulatory approval for new therapies in the future. Gaining approval in Europe for new cancer drugs and launching them can be extremely challenging. It takes a cross-functional team that can understand market access within the framework of each country’s healthcare system to effectively bring new treatments to people across Europe. The desire to facilitate rapid access to promising therapies in areas of unmet medical need must be accompanied by education to help payers and health technology assessment (HTA) entities determine the value of these products and make confident decisions on reimbursement and pricing.
How do your organisation’s activities help patients now and into the future?
With our novel kinase inhibitors, we are trying to address resistance to existing therapies. Over time, some cancer cells can develop resistance to other targeted therapies, making these treatments less effective. This resistance is mediated by various mechanisms including one or more mutations in the targeted kinase. Our goal is to overcome or delay the development of resistance with new medicines that will provide additional treatment options for these patients.
At Deciphera we have one mission, inspired by patients: defeat cancer. And it is with this in mind that we do what we do every day. Our research today will hopefully become new medicines for patients in the future.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life sciences industry today?
The last 18 months have obviously been very challenging for the sector, including a tough environment in the public and private financial markets globally, where raising capital has become significantly more challenging. Investors’ excitement is coupled with trepidation. We are seeing encouraging signs recently that demonstrate the resiliency of the life sciences industry, but those macroeconomic factors remain somewhat volatile.
And in Europe specifically, we face an evolving regulatory, legal, and reimbursement/pricing landscape both at the country and EU level and these changes always bring uncertainty, particularly for smaller biotech companies. It is critical that we all work together to ensure that Europe remains in the forefront of innovation and continues to be an attractive market to invest in.
What are the major health policy issues and themes that you are most focused on in 2023?
Some of the major topics that we are most focused on revolve around the changes that are expected regarding Health Technology Assessments in Europe, namely the so called “EU-HTA” initiative. These initiatives directly impact access timelines and conditions as well as resource implications for a company, especially for smaller biotech companies like ours.
Additionally, the challenges faced by many countries in Europe as a result of stagnant healthcare budgets, following recent major global events are starting to manifest in various national policy changes in reimbursement and access processes. We are looking closely at how these changes will impact Europe and how the landscape will evolve for bringing innovative medicines to European patients in 2023 and beyond.
What attracted you to join EUCOPE and how can we help you achieve your business goals?
As a biotech company recently established in Europe with a highly experienced team, our membership in EUCOPE will help expand our network and reach and allow us to strengthen our contributions to help shape the future of healthcare in Europe. I remain very excited about the strength of our international business and our launch momentum in Europe. The sustained momentum of our European market entry is a testament to the tremendous work by our international and global cross-functional team as we work towards bringing new, innovative medicines to patients in Europe.
For more information about EUCOPE membership