European Business: Mr. Féraud, how does the market typically approach the development of new medicines?
Michel Féraud: Essentially, there are three main routes. Firstly, some players develop new products from scratch. This is extremely expensive, and involves many complex stages so is also very time consuming. The second approach is to use lapsed patents to develop generic medicines – so-called ‘me-too’ products. The vitalization of known molecules is the third core method. Most of these molecules are outside of patent law, and are therefore public property and can be developed accordingly. Some of them have been known for over 100 years. This third approach is the one that Provepharm Life Solutions takes.
European Business: You founded the company in 2007. How did it come about, and what was your goal?
Michel Féraud: I have a doctorate in chemistry, and founded a chemical company in 1998, which was a research and development facility, contract manufacturer and supplier for third parties. This company registered a patent in 2007 for methylene blue. In the same year, I established Prove-pharm Life Solutions with the aim of searching the market for known but unused molecules, vitalizing them and implementing clinical tests so that molecules can be used to create new drugs. Our own patent for methylene blue is used in the field of methemoglobinemia, and gained market approval, firstly in Europe, and then in Japan, Australia and the US. I am passionate about innovation, and my ongoing ambition is to bring new products, created in Marseille, to the rest of the world.
European Business: Can you say a little more about the company’s activities.
Michel Féraud: We are a pharmaceutical laboratory, which carries out tests on existing molecules and make new medicines out of them. What is interesting is that the same molecule can be used for the development of different applications. For example, an aspirin is effective in fighting pain, but can also be used in a different dose to thin the blood. Developing different treatments using the same molecule is an important aspect of our work. We carry out the entire process chain internally, from defining the molecule and conducting clinical tests to regulatory approval. The R&D is conducted in France, while the clinical tests are carried out in the countries in which the products are to be used, each of which has its own regulatory authority. Our target client group is hospitals, where our products are generally used in accident and emergency departments. Products are sold via distributors in 30 different countries, and the development of our international business is one of our key priorities.
European Business: With 70 employees, Prove- pharm Life Solutions works hand in hand with your chemical company. How important is this, and what do you think is the overall secret to your success?
Michel Féraud: It is very important; we are a group and work very closely together. Besides our head office in Marseille, we also have a Provepharm office in Philadelphia which serves the US market. In comparison with other players in the market who use different methodologies, our operation is very efficient. We work with known molecules, so the first phase of research is already realized. This enables us to achieve success very quickly and without huge levels of investment, which means our solutions are highly cost effective for our clients. I think this very clear internal strategy, combined with our actual operating methods and the passion with which we work, are the core factors in our success.
European Business: And finally, what plans does Provepharm Life Solutions have for the future?
Michel Féraud: Without a doubt, we will remain true to our strategy and continue our work in molecule revitalization. We have already defined various molecules and are working accordingly on the requisite development and testing processes. In parallel, we are looking to enter new markets so that our products can ultimately make a broader impact. And naturally, we are continuing to seek and research different molecule applications.