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12:00 AM
 | 
Jun 08, 2015
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

Perennial pioneer

How Richard Peters plans to keep Genzyme ahead in Orphan diseases

Genzyme Corp. aims to remain a leader in Orphan diseases by adopting clinical innovations from oncology and continuing to engage patients from early research all the way to the market to speed development, approval and reimbursement of new drugs that meet patient needs.

BioCentury recently spoke with Richard Peters, who was named Genzyme's new global head of rare diseases in May after serving as head of global & U.S. medical affairs for the Genzyme Transplant & Oncology Division, and medical officer for Sanofi Global Oncology.

Peters said development programs in rare diseases can benefit from practices that were pioneered in oncology, such as biomarker-driven development and adaptive trials. By combining these practices with Genzyme's long-standing efforts to engage with patients and their families, Peters expects to develop transformational medicines that will maintain the company's lead in the increasingly crowded rare disease arena.

He added that the company's commitment to patients includes working with payers and providing assistance programs to ensure access to its drugs, which often have six-figure annual price tags.

Edited excerpts from BioCentury's conversation with Peters follow.

BioCentury: What have you learned in oncology that you are applying to rare diseases?

Richard Peters: In oncology, the diseases are so complex and there has been a strong investment in translational science and biomarkers to understand these complexities.

I think in rare diseases, we had the belief that this was simpler in the sense that you have a clear abnormal pathway, you fix it by replacing an enzyme or inhibiting a different part of the pathway, and you have transformative results. But the...

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