SOURCE: BioMedReports


April 02, 2012 07:01 ET

Co-Founder of Biotech Powerhouse, ImClone Systems, Sees the Same Type of Potential at Neptune Subsidiary

LOS ANGELES,CA--(Marketwire - Apr 2, 2012) - Harlan Waksal M.D. joined Acasti Pharma Inc. (TSX VENTURE: APO), a subsidiary of Neptune Technologies & Bioressources Inc. (NASDAQ: NEPT) as Executive Vice-President, Business & Scientific Affairs last summer.

Waksal, who helped found and eventually right the sails at ImClone Systems -- a powerhouse biotech (and now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company) -- sees the same potential at Neptune's subsidiary Acasti Pharma.

When he first saw the effects of the parent company's Phospholipid Omega-3 Krill Oil firsthand as a patient, he excitedly recognized the promise and market potential of their highly patented platform.

"I did get excited about it," explains Waksal. "It was very clear that Neptune had a potential product in the area of cardiovascular, that I thought was not only unique, but something that could be a billion dollar type of product."

"Why was that exciting for me? It is rare that somebody comes across a potential drug that has a safety profile that is already well understood. We're working with something called the Phospholipid Omega-3 coming from Krill -- a small crustacean that we fish from Antarctica."

In an exclusive video interview with BioMedReports, Waksal answers questions about the key characteristics which make the companies an intriguing bet for biotech investors -- particularly with data from Phase II clinical trials expected during the second half of 2012.

"We're focusing on triglycerides, and that is a little different than the whole lipid profile, statins are addressing a different aspect," explains Dr. Waksal. "They're addressing the bad cholesterol, the LDL. The market for the statins is about $35 billion. For fish oils it's very different.

"The overall fish oil market for 2012 will be somewhere around $8 billion. Of that $8 billion, however, you have to break down what is the prescription aspect of that. And the prescription market is $1.3 billion for one prescription drug, Lovaza (Omega-3-acid Ethyl Esters) -- the fish oil. That's how much it comprises. So this is an area that is growing and changing and will continue to evolve.

"My personal feeling about this is that we're in the midst of an epidemic. An epidemic with obesity, with fast food, with diabetes, and this is a growing and growing area because of the mean implication of those things is an increase of triglycerides and drugs that can counter that are going to be increasingly desired because the ramification of having triglyceridemia is having coronary artery disease. And if we can do things to go ahead and stop that, that's a great thing. My belief is, beyond the fish oils, that our drug will have an ability to be taken at a lower dose, have greater implications in terms of its ability to be tighter to a patient's need because you're going to be able to go to a higher doses; won't require being taken with any kind of food or fats like the current drugs that our out there. And I think that, overall, this market area is going to grow very dramatically. And so, I believe that we have the potential of having, what I consider, a blockbuster-type of drug that could be greater than a billion dollars in value.

"I've already built a biotech company and I understand the hyperbole that goes with that, and fortunately we were very successful in bringing into fruition what we believed would take place -- a breakthrough type of technology.

"In this case, it's a little bit of lower hanging fruit. We know what the technology should do. We know what Omega-3s should do. What we need to prove is that the Phospholipid Omega-3 has greater potential than the other drugs that are out there, that are doing the same kind of thing -- like the other Omega-3s. So to me, everything comes down to data. We are doing the clinical studies now. This is the year that we're going to be generating that data and I'm very excited about it and looking forward to it because I believe the data is going to demonstrate the kind of potential this drug is going to have.

"We have one marketed product that uses the same technology that products in our pipeline are using. It's approved. It's been through the FDA and it serves as a great proof-of-concept for our ability to not only take our product through the regulatory pathway, but also partner and get through commercialization."

The full video interview with Harlan Waksal M.D. is now available at:

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