One of the great challenges in biotech and pharma today is getting medicines approved. While many ideas come from laboratories around the world, the failure rate is still very high at a time where the need for breakthrough medicines has never been greater. That is the challenge that Paragon Biosciences, and its leader Jeff Aronin, strive to meet every day.
Paragon Biosciences is a Chicago-based incubator and investment firm that builds and grows leading biotechnology companies. It uniquely focuses on patient need, the science behind the disease and building great companies to quickly bring novel treatments to patients. Aronin and his company have an outstanding track record in what matters most: getting medicines approved, with some 13 new drugs approved, on par with most Big Pharma companies over the past decade.
Paragon always starts with the patient need. When it identifies a debilitating disease with no effective treatment, Jeff Aronin and his team move forward quickly to address that need. It is not enough to just realize there may be an opportunity in a certain disease state. What drives the team is the desire to understand what causes a disease, what treatment can help and how can the company best bring a treatment to patients.
The Process That Built Paragon Bioscience
The successful strategy is based on a three-step process: understanding the patient need, identifying novel science to treat the disease, and attracting top investors and business leaders to build world-class companies to get medicines approved. Paragon identifies diseases where the patient need is highest and treatment availability is most scarce. Two companies that are part of the Paragon family – Castle Creek Pharmaceuticals and Harmony Biosciences – are working toward having novel medicines launch in the U.S. in the next two years (Bloomberg). Jeff Aronin has served as the chairman of Castle Creek and Harmony, helping to bring in talent and capital to build the companies with an eye on long-term success.
Many of the medicines Paragon’s companies will develop will be the first and only approved treatments for the diseases and conditions they target. This focus draws great interest from top investors who share this vision. As one example, in October 2017, the company was the lead investor in one of the largest equity raises in biotech: $270 million for Harmony Biosciences, which has since grown to a rise of nearly $300 million.
Castle Creek, for example, has a strong pipeline of potential medicines to treat rare skin conditions like epidermolysis bullosa simplex, a devastating condition that affects young children causing the skin to tear and blister to form at the slightest abrasion. Harmony is focused on central nervous system disorders, including narcolepsy and cataplexy, diseases that can not only interrupt the wake/sleep cycle but also lead those suffering to withdraw from everyday activities.
Paragon Biosciences was created with a straightforward, but important, goal: to build innovative companies that bring important medicines to patients (https://www.paragonbiosci.com/about/team/jeffrey-aronin/). Paragon’s portfolio companies are managed by healthcare industry leaders and biotech entrepreneurs committed to delivering better health outcomes for patients with diseases that go largely untreated today. With more than 6,000 diseases today that do not have an approved therapy available, the work that the company, Jeff Aronin, and his team will do has never been more needed or important.
Groundbreaking discoveries require scientific rigor, technology, and an unyielding commitment to patents. As a result, the company provides its portfolio companies with dedicated experts and cutting-edge resources. In addition, Paragon connects its companies with clinical experts and others in the industry who can provide strategy, guidance, and support necessary to ensure important medicines reach patients. Paragon goes beyond providing capital. With experts like Jeff Aronin leading the company, Paragon helps build companies and guide management teams, so that they effectively run the day to day operations. Paragon’s deep expertise in medical and regulatory science, legal and compliance, business development and other areas help build and guide internal capabilities.
How It Works
Paragon’s portfolio companies conduct all phases of clinical trials and development and collaborate with medical professionals. The company is relentless in applying speed and efficiency to bring novel medicines to patients in need.
Jeff Aronin and Paragon’s approach is different than typical biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Biotech companies are good at the raw material – identifying molecules and testing them. Big Pharma is good at marketing and distribution. The company, on the other hand, is a leader in rational drug development and its strategy is in place to rapidly accelerate important science, a critical achievement that often is lost in the vast labs of Big Pharma or falls short because smaller biotechs might lack the expertise to bring a drug forward.
Paragon’s strategy is straightforward: First, learn the disease. Second, understand the science. Third, remove all guesswork. The result is a rational pathway for approval for a medicine that addresses an unmet need.In the past decade, Paragon’s leadership team has a track record is on par or better than giant pharmaceutical companies and nimble biotechs alike. To understand how that is possible, we first must understand why it is necessary. The old model of drug development is already obsolete and is increasingly endangering the long-term viability of one of the world’s most dynamic industries. But since so many companies don’t know another way, they keep perpetuating what they already know. Doing things the same way means productivity suffers.
The Door is Open For a New Way to Approach Drug Development.
Aronin and his companies are inspired by the arc of technology innovation. Your cell phone, your television and your computer do so much more than they did five or ten years ago. And they are likely far less expensive than they were when you first bought them. Technological advances have powered a change in accessibility to technology and that has, in turn, powered a profound change in what individuals, communities and entire nations can accomplish today. A concept and success that Jeff Aronin and Paragon Biosciences have and will continue to run with.
More about Jeff Aronin on LinkedIn and Crunchbase