Meet the Metrics Execs: Lettie Kirk, OSD Business Development
Continuing our blog series on Metrics’ top business development contributors, we put business development executive (BDE) Lettie Kirk in the spotlight to help illuminate what it is about her that makes her so well suited to her role.
With more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Lettie is a veteran drug program developer who has supported hundreds of drug strategies from early phase to late-stage development. Lettie’s also a scientist – a product of the lab. Early in her career, Lettie was at the bench sequencing, cloning, growing tissue cultures and performing reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses to help researchers in their quest to elucidate the full genome of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Lettie brings experienced counsel, scientific rigor and a friendly professional demeanor to Metric’s business development team. Delivering clarity and collaboration to every relationship she manages, we sat down with Lettie to find out how she helps customers find the best success for their novel discoveries.
What drives you to work in the novel OSD market?
I love being close to the people and science involved in advancing pharmaceutical development. Providing formulation services that eventually help sick patients is very rewarding.
Although I’ve worked with intellectual property holders both large and small, I do have an affinity for supporting the smaller and virtual innovators we tend to work with at Metrics. This is because their formulation requirements are complex and often targeted to help patient groups with more life-threatening or debilitating conditions. I’ve found that, with my background, I can quickly foster the right kind of close relationship that programs need to be effective.
Regardless of the size of the organization, to launch a drug strategy and find that patient-perfect formulation, it is important to bring the right people to the table at the right time. Depending on the type of sponsor and its organizational hierarchy, it can be challenging to get that table set. But when the goal is developing a life-saving drug, I gladly take on that challenge.
What brought you to Metrics?
I was recruited – and while I was pleased that as a professional, I was attracted to Metrics, the attraction was mutual! To me, Metrics is the “right” size contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), big enough to have great resources and experience, but small enough to be extremely agile and responsive to customers. I value that, because I know it means I can provide our customers with a higher level and quality of service. Like the choice Goldilocks makes, Metrics is not too big and not too small – just right – and that makes our organization and people more accessible, our programs more efficient, and our outcomes for customers more successful.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the industry?
Pharma’s R&D and investment landscape is changing, and so are the kinds of relationships between public and private concerns. We are also seeing this within academia, large pharma, and their contract partners. Small pharma is driving exciting innovation. One way large pharma often drives innovation is by acquiring the innovators. My hope is that when flourishing small pharma companies are acquired by the larger players, they don’t lose that independent spark of innovation that got them there in the first place.
What are the key market trends we can expect to impact the novel OSD market in the next year? (e.g. any new technology?)
Even though biopharmaceuticals and biologic treatments are often in the spotlight, the vast majority of the drugs on the market today are small molecule OSDs. Despite growing complexity, OSDs can be produced efficiently and cost-effectively, and will always be easy to distribute, dispense, and swallow. Universally preferred to any jab, OSDs are widely well-accepted by patients and preferred by health care systems around the world.
Recent approvals of novel drug products reflect this trend. In 2020, the FDA approved 53 novel drug products, of which almost half were OSDs. Breaking it down, of the 21 novel OSD products approved that year, 14 were tablets and 7 were capsules.
Drug owners seeking better life cycle management approaches to their drug product strategies will continue to rely on the various OSD formats and formulation options to meet patients’ needs. This includes everything from modifying release, to controlling side effects and dose frequency, to using combinations that reduce pill burden and enhance dose compliance.
What are the biggest challenges that OSD manufacturers must overcome in 2022?
I think for all concerned, the biggest challenges are the supply chain and finding better ways to manage the risks. The pandemic exposed new risks and raw nerves. For any drug sponsor with a promising commercial formulation, the product’s complete supply chain (and that includes CDMO partners) must be both secure and resilient.
Finally, if you could give any advice to potential clients, what would it be?
Keep your CDMOs local, plan ahead to mitigate supply chain issues – and see you out there!
Working at Metrics Contact Services
At Metrics, we are a science-led contract development and manufacturing organization on a mission to help you take your complex novel oral solid dosage forms from initial concept through to global commercialization.
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