Clara Rodríguez Fernández on 14/03/2017 .
Spain’s Biotech Ecosystem is Starting to Rise! Meet the Revolution’s Leaders .
Spain’s Largest Biotech .
“PharmaMar was founded in 1986. At this time, you can imagine the biotech sector in Spain was not big. It was not known by the public or even by the authorities,” says Luis Mora, MD of the Oncology Business Unit at PharmaMar.
“We were the first company in Spain to launch a Phase I trial, back in 2001,” he remarks. Today, this pioneering company is Spain’s biggest biotech, listed on the Madrid Stock Exchange with a market cap over €600M.
Luis Mora also blames the financial crisis of 2008 for the slow growth of biotech in past years. “Funding for biotech, pharma and universities was dramatically reduced during the crisis. We’re now starting to recover, little by little.” I asked how PharmaMar managed to come out on top despite the challenges the country has faced. “Three factors,” he answers. “Products, finance and team.”.
The science behind PharmaMar’s products draws from nature. “We search compounds for cancer in the sea,” clarifies Mora. “We reproduce in the lab what nature offers us.” The company’s lead drug, Yondelis, originally comes from the sea squirt Ecteinascidia turbinata. “It was the first Spanish drug approved by the EU through a centralized procedure,” he adds.
In terms of finance, PharmaMar was lucky enough to count with a strong partner. “Until 2015, the company was included in the Zeltia group, which provided the money to finance the activity of drug discovery.” Regarding the third factor, Mora explains, “We have a strong team with 18 different nationalities that covers all areas, as well as many agreements around the world that provide us with their know-how.”.
PharmaMar, which recently joined the promising immuno-oncology field of antibody-drug conjugates, could soon be taking a big step forward for the industry. “The company has decided to move to the Nasdaq in the future,” Luis Mora revealed.