TRANSCRIPT: Pharma’s Almanac. Nigel Walker Interviews Peter Jensen, CEO and Chairman of Normax
NIGEL. Good afternoon. My name is Nigel Walker of Pharma’s Almanac. We have arrived here at NIBRT. We’re going to be speaking today to the CEO and founder of Normax, a Mr. Peter Jensen. We’re going to be talking about the future of healthcare and how Normax is contributing to the growth of the industry. Your organisation is a relatively new business, but how are you going to contribute to the future of healthcare as your vision for Normax takes shape?
PETER. So, in the middle of the pandemic, we pivoted to mRNA vaccine R&D as a business and also scaled-down, smaller vaccine factories that could be modularly manufactured and distributed and have a distributed CDMO business model that would fit with our vaccine R&D business. So, clearly mRNA vaccines are transformative for the pharma industry. That’s not new. They’ve been around for 30 years, but COVID has, of course, transformed the mRNA space. And we think that there can be literally hundreds, maybe even thousands, of products that could address diseases, whether that be infectious diseases or cancers. We actually plan on making, at scale, our vaccines for about two dollars ($2) which is pretty cheap for one dose at large scale. And we think, you know, why not price them at four dollars ($4)? That’s 100% markup, that’s a good markup in any business. But if you look at the industry, that’s significantly lower than what’s happening out there so, on diseases like COVID, or tuberculosis, or HIV, which are vast quantities of vaccines potentially needed, we think we can make a real difference. So, one of the things I get excited about is the idea of saving a life for the cost of a hamburger. The pharma industry has famously said, “10 years, two-and-a-half billion for a vaccine”. That’s now come down to a year, maybe a couple-hundred million. Now the industry is talking about a hundred days for a novel vaccine. And that brings the cost down 10X more. So, we think for about $25 million we can deliver a vaccine – it depends on, of course, the target and the disease and all the variables. But it’s vastly more affordable than it ever was before, so this really can transform the industry, I think, for entrepreneurs, for scientists, for patients. And we’d like to offer up mRNA vaccine manufacturing capabilities as a CDMO to any customer that wants to hire our services.
NIGEL. Can you talk to me about how that business is put together? How you’re actually servicing the different types of customers, a service model and a patient model? Can you tell me?
PETER. Well, we’re in the very early days of the business development, we have a business model to fund five Vax Factories at about €30 million euros each, which is a low number. These would be prefab GMP pods that get assembled. We believe that if we can systematize all of the extreme complexity of this business in a replicable way that could create a distributed business model where there could be many smaller factories in many different locations. So right now, all of my focus is on getting the Topco listed and obviously getting pre-IPO cash into the business to trigger an avalanche of investors that would like to follow into the market. So we create products that investors can obviously make a profit on, but also be very proud of what they invest in.
NIGEL. What’s the volume of vaccine production that you think each one of these [Vax Factories] can produce per annum?
PETER. Probably around 100 million doses a year in a single shift, full time, six days a week. But if we double up shifts we can do more, conceivably, but it will vary of course based on how many different products are pushed through the pipe.