It’s hard to imagine how the year 2015 could have gone much better for Cambridge BioMarketing. Revenue was up more than 50%, to $24 million, on the back of three product launches and a clutch of new clients in the orphan- and rare-disease spaces. Headcount surged from 75 to 120. The agency’s acquisition by Everyday Health went swimmingly. And now CB is about to extend its reach to the West Coast.
“It was a great year, both internally for the change we went through and externally for the work we did with our clients,” beams CEO Maureen Franco.
Two of the launches were ultra-orphan products of existing client Alexion: Strensiq, an enzyme-replacement therapy for hypophosphatasia, and Kanuma, for rare lipid disorder LAL-D. CB was originally awarded Strensiq in 2011 by developer Enobia and Kanuma in 2013 by developer Synageva; both were acquired by Alexion, paving the way to launch.
For both of the products, CB executed extensive prelaunch disease-education and market-development campaigns, alongside what Franco describes as “spectacular and successful” global launch work, both for the HCP market and within the patient population.
“Where we are partnering with smaller biotechs, a lot of times first-time commercial organizations are not going to have 15 product managers when they’re in phase II,” she explains. “We’ve been getting in earlier, which makes the work more meaningful and the partnership stronger. Clients are understanding that patients aren’t an afterthought.”
CB’s third successful launch during 2015 was for new client Taro Pharma in support of Keveyis. The drug treats periodic paralysis, a serious rare condition that is frequently misdiagnosed, which Franco says made for a “really interesting” launch. Other new client wins in 2015 included Akcea (Volanesorsen for familial chylomicronemia syndrome), Zafgen (Beloranib for Prader-Willi syndrome), Alnylam (Patisiran for ATTR amyloidosis), and Retrophin (Cholbam for bile acid synthesis disorders and Thiola for prevention of cystine kidney stones).
All the new business brings its own challenges, and Franco admits CB is searching for a bigger space.
Among its new recruits, CB invested heavily in UX and technical-support digital specialists and grew the medical team to 14 full-timers. “They are all PharmDs or PhDs and an integral part of every client team,” Franco notes.
CB has also hired Alyse Sukalski to run a new West Coast office in Oakland. “We’re really going to build a fully staffed presence.” While the office will focus on existing West Coast clients, Franco says the longer-term objective is to go after new business.
In March CB celebrated the one-year anniversary of its acquisition by Everyday Health, which Franco reports went “exceptionally well.” She points to the Mayo Clinic and MedPage properties as useful strategic resources and says that the agency will soon start to tap into EH’s data, mobile, and app expertise.