NewBridge spearheaded a different path against a prevailing backdrop in the region. It pioneered a unique business model and how to go about it. Not a family business and not a public corporation but built as a company that is institutionally financed by western and regional equities. It also sets its mission on in-licencing innovations only, hence partnering with western companies to commercialize their innovative products across the whole region in MENA.
Joe Henein – President and CEO of the company has over 35 years’ industry experience in MENA, US and Europe, including executive roles at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. As a highly articulate industry advocate, he has earned respect as a top-level business leader in the industry and a subject matter expert for the Middle East and Africa pharmaceutical business.
Henein recalls the start-up days “it was difficult, recruiting people, garnering attention from the regulators, and create a company from scratch. It was an idea and a power point presentation that I took and built a company around, with real IP assets and business, supported by over 135 talented NewBridgers working in it now.”
We only focus on innovative products and treatment advancements within a few but critical therapeutic areas like immunology, rare diseases, oncology, central nervous system and metabolic diseases. In these areas we have a
razor-sharp focus in creating value to the assets we licence, to our partners, and shareholders, and provide new options to the patients of the region.”
He added “We have a one stop solution for a wide geography with complex regulations and access hurdles, and we built all the expertise around the disciplines that our partners may need to be successful in commercializing their brands.”
The company has been growing steadily since it started commercialization at the end of 2012 and last year ended up with a robust growth year-on-year and now look to continue this growth trajectory in 2020 and beyond.
Henein points out that getting to NewBridge’s current position was challenging: “it was a marathon and not a sprint, NewBridge- as any start up passed through the usual growing pains, and in this difficult journey you go through the pressure of cash burning cycles, to the lengthy process of building business around new products, and finally getting the regulators to recognize who we are and what we do.”
It took a while to appreciate the NewBridge model but eventually warmed up after they recognized that the company helps the region to bring serious innovations and therapeutics that address unmet medical needs in very difficult disease areas; like epilepsy, parkinsonism, psychosis, rheumatoid arthritis, breast and other cancers, and a number of rare diseases prevalent to the region.
The healthcare professionals were also quick to adapt to the idea and the model of NewBridge. Joe added “NewBridge attracted their attention when we were able to bring to the region a genomic testing for breast cancer. A revolutionary testing that has put us on the map and highlighted our ability to tap into much needed innovation and disruptive technologies. Doctors saw in us a breath of fresh air and they helped advise and guide the company on the innovation they think is needed in the region.”
When Henein was asked about the critical ingredients of success in this model, he stressed on a number of points;
“First you must remember that we partner on the most innovative products and brands that are critical to these companies. Being cognizant of this important fact there are 3 critical pivots you need to pay attention to; Attract talents and empower the operation engine that will build these brands. Invest in marketing and medical education to create strong understanding and advocacy to these new treatment algorithms, and finally compliance & integrity in all you do. Ensuring that you protect your reputation and that of your partner is of paramount importance.”
Headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, NewBridge benefited from the progressive business environment encouraged by the country rulers, who are strong advocates for technological advancement and innovation, and actively supporting SMEs. Things are positively changing, and NewBridge is at the pharmaceutical vanguard of this change.
The Bigger Vision of Bringing New Advancement to the Patients
Joe Henein’s career has spanned over 35 eventful years at senior levels in the Middle East, US and Europe, culminating in his present role as President & CEO for NewBridge Pharmaceuticals.
Joe started his career “from the kitchen” as they say, joining the industry as a medical representative – freshly graduated from the pharmacy school, then made his way up the corporate ladder, passing through and mastering many of the disciplines critical to the industry he worked for all his life and feels very passionate about.
Through this journey, and while in the USA, Joe assumed the role of Global VP for number of therapeutic areas, most notable the Infectious Diseases, serving also on the executive committees for a number of companies as R&d council, Development & Strategy Board and The European Executive Council.
When moving to Dubai in 2004 Joe was heading up Wyeth (acquired by Pfizer in 2009) in MENA before joining NewBridge. He also served as the Vice-Chairman of the PhRMA Association for Middle East & Africa (MEA), and the Chairman of its Ethics Review Board. In this latter role, he was the head of the committee that wrote the first MEA Regional Code of Pharmaceutical Promotional Practices. It is still largely in use till now after few additions. Henein is a known entity in this field in the region, he often speaks on Regional Compliance in International and Regional Forums.
Henein is grateful to have learned from several iconic figures of the pharmaceutical industry throughout his life and has had experience of many business models that provided him with high exposure and learning curves to the industry practice. He has garnered a reputation for combining sharp business acumen with people-skills – a combination that has earned him the trust of colleagues and company clients alike. Looking back, Joe is humbled by the opportunities that shaped his leadership experience and the track record which created many platforms he led to develop people and build businesses, but certainly what he is most proud of is the ability to bring products to the market that make a real difference to patients’ sufferings and lives.
“Having the patient needs at the centre focus and compliance with industry codes as an integral part of the operation is key to the success, and accomplishment of the mission we are all here working for” He further reminds us that our kids, and future generations health problems will only be addressed by the pharmaceutical industry – yes there could be many collaborations with academia, governments, and others but the industry only has the capabilities to turn these dreams and innovation into realities and ultimately bring new advancement to the patients.
“From day one, we came with bigger vision and made some crucial strategic commitments. First, to focus on only innovative products that provide advanced treatment options through these innovations, and hence address the unmet medical needs of patients in the MENA region. Second, to drive it through in-licencing products that are either FDA- or EMA-approved. Third, create the right corporate and governance culture to attract and build a team with considerable speciality and institutional talents.
“We go in search for these innovations that may not come to our region easily and partner with these companies to create value for their brands and offer new treatment modalities for the MENA patients.
“That’s what we are doing – and that’s what we shall continue to do, and I for one, feel very strong and proud about.”