Juniper Biologics innovative medical treatments in the areas of oncology and oncology supportive care, rare/orphan diseases, and gene therapy
Please introduce yourself and your startup Juniper Biologics to our readers!
I am Raman Singh, founder and CEO of Juniper Biologics, a science-led specialty healthcare company focused on commercialising novel therapies. And I have had a long career in the healthcare industry spanning over 20 years with management roles at Mundipharma, AbbVie and GSK.
I founded Juniper Biologics in 2021 in Singapore and since then, we have been expanding rapidly across the globe. Outlined by our ESG values, our mission is to make a real impact on the lives of patients while increasing accessibility to the next generation of treatments. We bring innovative medical treatments to patients in the areas of oncology and oncology supportive care, rare/orphan diseases, and gene therapy.
How did you get the idea of Juniper Biologics?
Having worked in various regions and seeing the positive impact of my actions in the healthcare industry inspired me to launch Juniper Biologics. I saw first-hand the healthcare inequality in certain regions where access to essential medicines was a challenge, or where the needs of patients suffering from a rare disease were unmet. It is not uncommon for big pharma companies to focus on treatments for the multi-millions, rather than the hundreds or thousands of patients suffering from a rare disease.
It was also clear to me that there were no innovative research and development-driven healthcare/biotech companies in Asia, the Middle East, and ANZ (the emerging markets) – either companies are domesticated in China, Korea or Japan, or big pharma companies have a foothold in the emerging markets. I identified this gap in the market and knew I needed to build a pharma company that focused single-mindedly on helping the patients in those regions. I knew that this is where Juniper Biologics would have a profound impact, because everyone deserves access to treatments that improve the quality of their life.
Why did you decide to start with Juniper Biologics?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I spearheaded research and development efforts to investigate how we as an industry could combat the accelerated spread of the virus. Laboratory tests with Duke-NUS and other labs were initiated to prove that certain Betadine products could kill the COVID-19 virus in 15 and 30 seconds. Seeing the extent that my work had on people’s health on a global level compelled me to start Juniper Biologics. I began by searching for innovative medicines that would improve the quality of life of patients suffering from debilitating illnesses such as cancer. I wanted to start an ESG-focused company that would always be committed to putting the patients and their needs first and to providing treatments for areas that are often overlooked or ignored.
What is the vision behind Juniper Biologics?
Since Juniper Biologics launched in 2021, it has hit several milestones. One such milestone is the conclusion of an up to USD$600 million acquisition for the licensing rights to develop and commercialise TG-C LD, the world’s first cell-mediated gene therapy for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. We plan to make this treatment available to an estimated 300 million patients in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.
In the last 12 months, we have inked six licensing agreements, and added Aloxi, Akynzeo and Anamorelin to our oncology supportive care portfolio, an area that has a strong unmet need globally. Strongly in line with our ESG-based mission to improve affordability and accessibility, my vision for Juniper Biologics is to continue to expand our portfolio and focus on areas where we can make a difference and bring our treatments to people in all corners of the globe.
How difficult was the start and which challenges did you have to overcome?
As a young company with a big ambition, one key task was to assemble a team with a DNA of never giving up, a rallying cry that defines us. Since 2021, the company has grown at an exciting rate with now close to 100 employees in over 10 offices across Asia, Oceania, the Middle East and Africa.
The acquisition process began in mid-2021, with identifying the right medicines to satisfy the unmet needs of patients and the right partners from which to license these products. I knew that to acquire next-generation medicines in oncology, rare diseases and gene therapy, we would need strong backers. That is how the Sylvan Group, an investment company that focuses heavily on ESG and supporting businesses that have a positive value for society and the environment, came on board. Aligning very closely with my personal ESG values, the Sylvan Group were the first to back Juniper Biologics. This was just the beginning – other investors have now become interested in supporting our vision, and we look forward to announcing these soon.
The biggest challenge that we’ve had to overcome is bringing a medicine to market. It is a long process and often takes years of due diligence and approvals from relevant drug regulatory authorities. It poses even more of a challenge when each country has different regulations and systems. We have learned that it is essential to establish communications and partnerships with the local regularity experts who can help us better understand the nuances of the market.
Who is your target audience?
Since we focus on commercialising the medicines and treatments for market distribution, our target audience are both healthcare professionals, as well as influential members of the scientific and healthcare community. We target healthcare professionals who we can work with to distribute the innovative medicines. And we also work with the scientific community to see what novel treatments we can bring to market. We connect with people in these communities by attending events that introduce us to the most relevant networks.
Additionally, we collaborate with other pharma companies, as well as with leading CROs, KOLs, and universities. We also build strong relationships with academicians who are researching and bringing innovative medications to patients in the emerging world. These collaborative relationships aid us continuously looking for the next generation of treatments in our chosen therapy areas.
What is the USP of your startup?
We find and commercialise products that are quite niche and centred on unmet needs. Big pharma companies typically go for the blockbuster products. For instance, while these companies may focus on curing cancer, we deliver products that help people currently suffering from cancer attain a better quality of life.
We are also focused on the area of gene therapy, particularly TGC, in parts of the world that have growing aging populations. We know that our work will improve their quality of life. The same goes for rare diseases as we look at the unmet needs of patients suffering from diseases that sometimes do not receive the attention they deserve.
The fact that we are a young company also allows us to be agile and nimble on how we look at different products and acquisitions. Because of our size, we can commercialise and distribute these products a lot quicker. It also enables us to minimise the impact of our products and operations on the planet and uphold the sustainability element of our ESG values.
Can you describe your typical workday?
I start every day with a run. This is an absolute must as it energises me and puts me in the right frame of mind to take on the day. After that, I’m typically plugged into meetings and calls all day, which often continue well into the night. I am also always on the lookout for the next innovative treatment and expansion opportunity that improve accessibility to essential and affordable medicines.
Above all, I make sure to take the time to check in with my teams around the world – they are the backbone of Juniper Biologics and I want to ensure that I am doing all I can to help them succeed. I also want to always be as transparent as possible with my team and update them on all my plans for moving forward with the company. Leading with transparency within the company sets a precedent and standard of transparency for all our work, which keeps us accountable as responsible corporate citizens.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Juniper Biologics in five years?
My priority is looking for the next generation of medicines and expanding access to the treatments we offer. We are currently in advanced negotiations to add to our oncology supportive care portfolio. We also announced the acquisition of Ledaga, a topical gel treatment for people suffering from MF-CTCL, the most common cutaneous T-cell lymphoma for which we secured licensing and marketing authorisation to promote and sell in Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
I am also very focused on building our Juniper Biologics team. Recently we opened offices in Korea, the Middle East, Japan and established our global headquarters in Singapore. We will be continuing to open offices in several key markets, allowing us to offer our treatments in many regions.
In the long term, we see ourselves as a leading pharmaceutical company with a global network, breaking down barriers and ensuring accessibility for all those in need.
What 3 tips would you give to founders?
To be a good founder, and therefore leader, it is important to adjust to what is happening around you. It seems basic but we’ve seen expectations and values needing to evolve, particularly with the pandemic, and traditional leadership methods have been challenged. With new generations joining the workforce, you need to be flexible and be able to manage them differently.
Next it is important to focus on communication. Master the different communication platforms and be available as well as authentic. Nurture your relationship with your team and listen to their views and their suggestions.
Finally, always keep learning new things. Read about new market trends, technologies, or new parts of the world. Learn about different cultures and make connections with as many new people as you can. This keeps you up-to-date on what is happening in the world and can inspire you on how to keep your business relevant.
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Thank you Raman Singh for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.