An Exclusive Interview With Anthony Magnetti, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Sunovion leads the way in advocacy and cross-sector collaborations focused on driving innovation and improvements in health care.

During the interview with biopharmaceutical industry executive Anthony Magnetti it was clear this is an exciting time for Sunovion. Magnetti leads Government Affairs for Sunovion, headquartered in Marlborough, Mass., which focuses on therapies that advance the science of medicine in the psychiatry, neurology and respiratory disease areas to improve the lives of patients and their families. Magnetti has actively supported the introduction and passage of legislation for patient protection, and championed efforts to codify the six protected classes in Medicare Part D. Under his leadership, the Government Affairs team supports leading advocacy, educational, and cross-sector coalitions focused on advancement of research and innovation, as well as improvements in healthcare.

He wisely said, "If you look back on your career and say you have 20 years of experience, you really need to ask yourself the question do you have 20 years of experience or did you work just one year 20 times?" In translating this to the global level, he said, "For health care to stay relevant, we must continually be focused on innovating and creating. This includes leveraging advances in the intersection of science and technology in order to improve the development and delivery of new treatments."

Sunovion believes in innovation. "One element that is unique is our strategy for discovering new drugs, which involves pursuing novel mechanisms of action irrespective of the targeted potential indication area," said Magnetti. "We are leveraging evolving technology, such as computational chemistry approaches, new ways to harness big data, and leading-edge genomic approaches to identify and optimize new drugs based on systems neurobiology. Overall, our focus is to bring new, safe, and effective medicines to patients faster and address unmet medical needs."

This approach, Magnetti said, is significant since while research in academia and NIH increases our understanding of basic neurobiology, it is challenging to translate these advances into new medicines. He relayed that during the central nervous system (CNS) discovery and development stages there is typically a high attrition rate. Consequently, many companies have ceased to conduct research in CNS. However, Sunovion has a track record of advancing therapies in the CNS therapeutic area.

Magnetti said the cost of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in aggregate is approximately $214 billion. "Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are complex medical illnesses that require a multidisciplinary treatment approach. As a result, funding and access to mental health programs and services will be instrumental in helping minimize the impact of these challenging illnesses on patients, their families, and the U.S. economy. Despite the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, people with serious mental illness continue to be treated differently than people who have physical illnesses," said Magnetti.

He added, "Epilepsy is a significant medical illness. In fact, it's the fourth most common neurological condition. There is a clear medical need for treatments we are focused on addressing. For example, Sunovion's supplemental new drug application for the use of Aptiom as a potential monotherapy for partial-onset seizures is currently under review by the FDA. "

The biopharmaceutical industry plays a key role from bench to bedside, collaborating with government, academic institutions, and other stakeholders. He said, "Sunovion has been a key leader in the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium, part of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. This is a new model that can accelerate early stage research and enable collaboration among various stakeholders for the benefit of patients and the healthcare system."

At Ideagen we believe in the power of cross-sector collaborations for positive transformative change. From the healthcare perspective, Magnetti observed, "With a greater focus on providing access to healthcare, services, and medications that patients need we will be able to address the desire to reduce costs in the healthcare system. By increasing collaboration across multiple stakeholders, across industry, government, NGOs, and academia I believe we can accomplish the ultimate goal of improving health and well-being and overall quality of life of patients worldwide."

Magnetti believes we need to transform global healthcare into a patient-centric approach. "The patients we serve should be the driver of everything we do. For instance, we have a patient-centric model here at Sunovion including a program called SunovionAnswers, which is a comprehensive resource that provides patients with medical and reimbursement information to help them navigate the system."

When asked about global challenges facing us, Magnetti said, "There are clearly many global challenges. I have to say that the healthcare sector is addressing many of the top challenges we will be facing moving forward. We're not only addressing key healthcare issues, but also enabling the convergence of science, technology, and IT." He said we need to fuel innovation, a pipeline of new medicines, and better diagnostics.

At Ideagen, we have discussed the importance of STEM education. According to Magnetti, "Our industry is helping to advance STEM education at the local and national levels. Sunovion has an ongoing commitment to STEM education. For example, in our headquarters area we work in partnership with the MassBio Educational Foundation to stimulate interest in science and encourage students to pursue career paths in these fields. Massachusetts is a major hub for life sciences and the MassBioEd Foundation is helping to fuel the talent pipeline and inspire the next generation of innovators."

Magnetti concludes that we need to focus on the "big rocks." He said, "Just addressing small problems is not going to solve the complex issues facing humanity. We need to mobilize and prioritize in a collaborative, cross-functional way across multiple sectors to have the greatest possible impact on the health and well-being of people worldwide. Working together in a unified manner will help us focus on areas that have the highest mortality and economic costs to society."

For the full interview, please click the link below: