Our next conversation from the Congress last month is an interview with PharmaJet’s Dr Carmen Ledesma-Feliciano. Dr Ledesma-Feliciano joined us for a presentation in the Bioprocessing and Manufacturing track. We were glad to sit down with her to discuss PharmaJet’s efforts to make vaccination an easier, cheaper, and more accessible solution. We hope that you enjoy the interview!
Introducing Dr Ledesma-Feliciano
Dr Ledesma-Feliciano is the Scientific Affairs Manager, which means she supports partners with questions and information, serving as a consultant. She also manages “internal research” and provides “device support” like training.
What’s new with PharmaJet
Our longer-term subscribers may remember last year’s interview with Dr Erin Spiegel, which may serve as a useful introduction to what PharmaJet does. Since then, lots of exciting things have been happening for the company, and Dr Ledesma-Feliciano kindly offers us an update. From emergency use authorisation submissions in India, to HPV trials in Indonesia, and a flu clinical trial, the devices are being put to good use across the world.
“A lot of exciting developments, some really exciting clinical trials, clinical data.”
A need for innovation
We asked Dr Ledesma-Feliciano to explain the need for PharmaJet’s technology. She identifies “multiple reasons” for needle-free methods. The first is the potential for an “enhanced immune response” or enhanced clinical effects compared to needle and syringe.
“You get typically comparable or enhanced responses with our devices but there’s no needles, and so there’s a high acceptability compared to traditional delivery methods. There’s also a potential for cost savings.”
The cost savings are made through several benefits of the devices, such as innate dose-setting, “little-to-no dead space”, and a potential for dose savings.
“Not only can you get good clinical results, but you can potentially reduce costs and you can see increased coverage because people prefer our needle-free.”
Dr Ledesma-Feliciano touched on increased coverage, so we asked her to explore the links between PharmaJet’s technology and access. She suggests that, as the devices are “already commercially available”, they can be scaled-up in any situation. With partnerships in LMICs, for example with poliovirus vaccines, the technology is being implemented in areas that need it most.
“That’s our mission: we provide greater access to life-improving pharmaceuticals.”
This mission can be realised through the established benefits of the technology but also reduced costs, increased ease of administration, and greater receptivity. Another useful aspect of the devices is that they don’t require power; this is great for rural settings.
“A lot of the vaccine clinics that we do are in pretty remote areas and our devices lend themselves really well to that, because they’re so accessible.”
Are there challenges to this technology?
With all the benefits, we assumed that there might be challenges to the development and manufacture of these products. However, Dr Ledesma-Feliciano suggests that establishing the data is the first hurdle, after which (so far) things have gone pretty well!
“Like I said, the devices are already commercially available, so it’s not too many challenges after that…we are very involved in supporting our partners, such as doing in-person training, if needed; they’re really easy to learn, so that’s not much of a challenge either.”
Innovating in a well-established community
For many of our technology-focused speakers, they are bringing rapidly-moving innovation to the community. We asked Dr Ledesma-Feliciano how receptive she finds this community to their ideas and devices, and her answer was encouraging! Although there is “always” a bit of “we’re used to doing something a certain way, so we’re not sure about this new technology”, the general response is a “lot of curiosity and a lot of interest”.
“We have a booth here, and we have the devices, and we’re doing demos for people, and they get really excited about it!”
Our final question, as usual, allows our experts to share their reasons for joining us at the event. For PharmaJet, the networking had already facilitated some “potential new partnerships”. Dr Ledesma-Feliciano was also looking forward to sharing a recent publication.
“It’s been great so far.”
One of the highlights for Dr Ledesma-Feliciano is the range of community stakeholders gathered in one place.
“There’s a wide variety of groups here, you know, small, large companies, academics, government agencies, there’s a lot of potential and a lot of opportunities here…there’s just a little bit of something for everybody, which we really enjoy.”
We are grateful to Dr Ledesma-Feliciano for her time and insights into the work that PharmaJet is doing. We hope to continue our conversations with the team at future events!