Bright Path CEO Tony Quinone joins Yahoo Finance to discuss how the Build Back Better plan will promote locally produced pharmaceutical drugs.
– And you will stay with us now as we stay on this topic now with our next guest. Tony Quinones is CEO of drug development and manufacturing company Bright Path Labs. And Tony, thank you very much for joining us now. And of course, a critical part of the vaccine makers response to COVID and now the omicron variant is the manufacturing process and the ability to scale it. And tying it all to what’s happening in Washington, the Biden administration’s Build Back Better proposal plans to spend billions to expand vaccine manufacturing capacity. Tell us about how Bright Path Labs would fit into those plans.
Tony Quinones: Sure. Bright Path Labs has a multi-year research and development agreement with the EPA and recently worked with the FDA Emerging Technology Program to create an advanced manufacturing platform based here, patented in the United States. And so we’ve been ready to be able to partner with companies to make at least 60 essential drugs and a number of orphan drugs for rare diseases, and be able to accelerate rapid drug development as some of those new vaccines are coming. Some of the intermediates and other bulk materials needed to manufacture these drugs, our platform allows us to do that very quickly here in the United States.
ANJALI KHEMLANI: Tony, this is Anjali. I know President Biden just walked off the podium earlier today, really touting the idea that drugs would be more affordable. If things start to grow in the United States – and I know this is one of the pushes that we’ve seen starting with the Trump administration, then you’ve made this deal with the FDA – I want to talk about the price part. How do you plan to include affordability as part of this whole process?
Tony Quinones: Well, that was the main driver of our business, is to make safe and affordable drugs here in the United States. And our ability to do that is to reduce the number of steps needed to make the same drug. In traditional methodologies, this requires a number of different steps, a larger platform, more staff, more moving parts of the supply chain.
And we are able to eliminate a number of these steps using the continuous flow manufacturing methodology. So we reduce the materials, which has a great impact on the environment and better quality of medicines. So overall, we end up being able to manufacture at a lower cost. And we expect to be able to pass that on to the supply chain and ultimately to the patient.
ANJALI KHEMLANI: So ultimately you see being able to compete with, say, APIs that are produced in China and India at really, really cheap prices, and being able to transfer that as well, here, even if the he industry is beginning to pursue more complex therapies such as genetics. You focus on being able to do some sort of core part of it.
Tony Quinones: Absolutely. That’s been our goal for a number of years, we’re looking to reduce the number of steps in a chemistry and take biological pathways and turn them into synthetic pathways and reduce those costs. So we think the timing of our entry into the market is ideal, because the price problems will continue, the supply problems will continue. We believe we are perfectly positioned to be able to have an immediate impact in 2022 with some of the partnerships and products we plan to roll out.
– You have experience in this area. And I think back to what the Trump administration did when it sent government money to Kodak, which was trying to change its business model. Is that somehow maybe – because we were asking about the potential of the Build Back Better funds to move your business forward even faster – is this kerfuffle the word I will use, because the SEC will fine me if I use any other, leave a bad taste in the mouths of government officials who would give money to what you are already doing and know how to do?
Tony Quinones: Yeah, it’s left a bad taste in a lot of emerging tech companies, like Bright Path and some of our other friends who, you know, have really advanced manufacturing platforms that have been in development for a number of years and have been for to be able to produce real chemistry.
So it was a bit of a shock to see something like that happen. And we now expect, with this new administration and the $9 billion allocated in this latest legislation, that the Senate, when it returns, will be able to seek out innovative companies, American innovative companies that can make these products here and to create the jobs to be able to create the medicines, provide better quality and do what, ideally, we can do with technology. It’s about making things better immediately.
ANJALI KHEMLANI: Tony, very quickly before I let you go, first of all, is this going to be largely dependent on government funding? And number two, how fast can you connect?
Tony Quinones: Well, we’re online now. We make products, intermediate products for customers now. And we expect to be ready, FDA cleared in a CGMP environment by the end of Q1 2022. So we’re able to move very quickly and don’t need government funding. But we know that a large amount, over $500 billion of federal funds are used to buy drugs here in America, and we would like to be able to participate in some of these contracts and be able to provide them, you know, what we believe a much better product.
– All right, we’ll leave it at that for now. Tony Quinone, CEO of Bright Path Labs, and Yahoo Finance health reporter Anjali Khamlani, thank you both so much for joining us.