Paul Perreault, the 59-year-old chief executive officer and managing director of CSL Ltd., recently discussed with the Philadelphia Inquirer the effect that gene therapy could have on his business.
Gene Therapy involves curing chronic conditions such as the bleeding disorder hemophilia by discovering and replacing the defective gene that causes it. CSL Ltd. – a $5.5 billion global bio-therapeutics company based in King of Prussia and Australia – develops and manufactures products that treat bleeding disorders, immune deficiencies, and other chronic and rare conditions.
The operative word is treat, not potentially cure like gene therapy.
The patient population for each condition that CSL’s products treat is small compared with, for example, the number of people who use drugs to treat high cholesterol or high blood pressure. However, they constitute repeat business, because CSL’s customers tend to use the products, often infusions, for life.
Here is Perreault’s response when asked by the Inquirer if gene therapy is a concern:
“While the concept of gene therapy seems simple – insert a correct copy of the defective or missing gene into the necessary cells – bringing it to reality is technically demanding, and many scientific obstacles still need to be overcome before it becomes a practical form of therapy for many diseases we treat today,” he said.
“This has been a lifetime of work for many scientists, and although the human genome project launched a new scientific effort over a decade ago, the complexity of the human body, and even the slight mutations of a particular gene in patients with the same disease, has made the effort difficult.”
Perreault added that CSL doesn’t view gene therapy as an obstacle for the company.
“We don’t see this as an immediate threat to our existing product portfolio or pipeline,” he said. “We are also a global company, and there are still patients not being treated today around the world with current therapies. I think it will be a long time before gene therapy gets to all of these countries.”
Click here to read more of the interview with Paul Perreault.