We understand that OPKO Health, Inc. is a rapidly growing multi-national pharmaceutical and diagnostics company, and we admire the efficient and proactive expansion of OPKO. What are major business philosophies or strategies of OPKO?
OPKO is focused on tackling some of the biggest problems in healthcare. Our first marketed product, the 4Kscore, is a test to better asses a man’s chance of developing high-grade prostate cancer. As your readers are well aware the traditional PSA test has significant limitations leading many men to have needless and painful prostate biopsies and unnecessary cancer treatments. Currently, about 80 percent of prostate biopsies ultimately prove to be unnecessary because they are either negative for cancer or show a low-grade disease that is no threat to health. Besides being painful, biopsies carry a significant risk of bleeding and infection. Our clinical data demonstrated that the 4Kscore could help to reduce unnecessary biopsies by providing more accurate information on the probability of high grade prostate cancer, offering both the urologist and the patient better information to make a more informed decision. Our lead therapeutic product is Rayaldee, a first-in-class oral vitamin D prohormone, for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism (SPHT) associated with chronic kidney disease and vitamin D insufficiency. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a growing problem worldwide and the co-morbidities are putting tremendous pressure on the healthcare system. Rayaldee is designed to safely and effectively treat patients with stage 3 and 4 CKD without the complications found in other treatments including hypercalcimia. The compound is completing Phase III trials with data expected by the middle of the summer.
We also continue our long tradition of allocating capital to projects we think have significant upside potential. OPKO’s lead biologic product is hGH-CTP, a once weekly recombinant human growth hormone product under development for treatment of growth hormone deficiency, a pituitary disorder resulting in short stature in children and other physical ailments in children and adults. A pivotal Phase III trial in adults with growth hormone deficiency is under way and Phase II trial in children with growth hormone deficiency is expected to be completed in the coming months. hGH-CTP, which is injected once weekly, could be a promising alternative to the current standard of care for growth hormone deficiency which requires daily injection of hormones. By reducing the burden of daily injection therapy, we believe our product could improve compliance and therefore yield better treatment outcomes.
The most important activity any pharmaceutical company can engage in is to help patients. We live in an era when economic pressures are becoming more acute, so it is incumbent on pharmaceutical companies to articulate their value proposition to both payors and increasingly directly to patients. The trend looks as though it is to continue - that is why we at OPKO strive every day to find new and interesting ways to help patients. At OPKO, we decided to focus on both diagnostics and pharmaceuticals because in the future we see a more aligned relationship between tests and drugs.
OPKO seems to focus on European and Latin American countries. What are OPKO’s business strategies in Asian region including Korea?
We have been very impressed with the growth in Asia and are contemplating strategies to address the market on the continent. I suspect you will see us become more active in the area in the near future.
The World Korean Medical Organization(WKMO) recently established a consulting subsidiary named W Medical Strategy Group to maximize utilization of knowledge and expertise of our member physicians in achieving our goals of enhancing quality of human life. What do you think the role of physicians and also the role of firms like ours should be in developing new therapeutics?
Physicians serve an integral role in the development of new therapeutics. Of course Physicians assist us with clinical trials which are essential to getting therapeutics and diagnostics approved and available for reimbursement. Once a therapeutic is marketed, physicians provide us with valuable feedback on our products as they, along with the patients, are our customers.
As a physician, a CEO, and a leader in the healthcare arena, what would be your advice to medical students who are expected to be physicians in few years?
Be entrepreneurial. New physicians are very well placed to find solutions to problems in the industry. It is a very exciting time to enter medicine given the new technology and new communication mechanisms that are now available. Also be willing to embrace change as new business models are being developed to treat the aging population.
WKMO is a global organization of physicians with Korean heritage. Do you have any personal memories or relationships with Korea or Koreans?
It has been gratifying to see the tremendous contributions that Korean-Americans have made to the healthcare system both in the U.S. and worldwide. Given our interest in the region we are frequently in contact with Koreans and Korean-American’s to make sure we are addressing their medical needs.
Phillip Frost, Chairman & CEO OPKO of Health, Inc.
Dr. Phillip Frost is Chairman and CEO of OPKO Health, Inc., a multinational biopharmaceutical and diagnostics company headquartered in Miami, Florida. He is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., an international pharmaceutical company based in Petah Tikva, Israel, specializing in generic and proprietary pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Phillip Frost was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he attended public schools. Dr. Frost earned his B.A. in French Literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1957, and his M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1961. He served as a Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Public Health Service at the National Cancer Institute from 1963 to 1965, after which he joined the Dermatology faculty at the School of Medicine, of the University of Miami. Dr. Frost then served as Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center of Greater Miami from 1970 through 1990.
From 1987 to 2006, Dr. Frost served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of IVAX Corporation, a global pharmaceutical company. When IVAX merged with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, he went on to serve as Vice Chairman of the Board until assuming his role as Chairman in 2010. Dr. Frost was also Chairman of the Board of Directors of Key Pharmaceuticals, Inc., from 1972 until it was acquired by Schering Plough Corporation in 1986.
Phillip Frost was Co-Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Stock Exchange from 2005 - 2008, and is Chairman of the Board of Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services.
Dr. Frost was a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami where he still serves as a Trustee, and he is also a Trustee of the Mount Sinai Medical Center. Phillip Frost was a Trustee of The Scripps Research Institute from 2004 to 2012, and a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution from 2006 until 2010. In 2010, Dr. Frost was nominated as a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Foundation for Development of the Center of Research and Commercializing of New Technologies in Russia. Most recently, Dr. Frost was appointed as a Founding Member of the Scientific Governance Board of the Shanghai Institute for Advanced Immunochemical Studies (SIAIS).
Dr. Frost was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Cancer Advisory Board and by President Bill Clinton to the National Museum Service Board. He was named National Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 2001. Dr. Phillip Frost is a recipient of the 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Dr. Frost is a generous supporter of education, science and technology and the arts. After his gift in 2003, the largest ever given to a university-based music school, the University of Miami named the school the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music. Also in 2003, after his gift to the Art Museum at Florida International University, the museum was named The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum. Most recently, he provided a major gift for the construction of the new Miami Science Museum, which will be named the Patricia & Phillip Frost Science Museum. He and his wife, Patricia, are renowned collectors who gave their 113-piece collection of American abstract art to the Smithsonian Institution in 1986.