Tor 25 jul / År 42 / Nr 3 2024

Bringing cloud technology to drug development

Captario is a company with a mission: to make a difference in the pharmaceutical industry through a game-changing simulation tool for decision-making in drug projects and portfolios. Founded in 2012 by a team from big pharma, Captario currently has 15 employees in offices in Basel and Gothenburg and the company is growing.

The process of drug development involves many critical decisions, from the choice of indication, through the timing and scope of the different development phases, to when and where to launch. There can be hundreds of strategic decisions to be made during development of a drug for a single indication and it becomes even more complex when you consider multiple indications, or the fit with a portfolio of drug projects, as Johannes Vänngård, CEO, explained:
”Companies have to consider the amount of time and money to be spent in early phase of development. Longer and more thorough studies mean less risk when entering late phase development, but shorter studies on the other hand can increase speed to market, beating competition and affecting the price and market share. Similarly, the order in which different indications are developed could impact the time to the first launch or the pricing strategy. Answering these questions requires an understanding of decision effects throughout the drug’s entire lifecycle, to patent expiry and beyond.”
Vänngård and many of his colleagues have a background from big pharma where they experienced the need for a shared and holistic view of a drug project, where different strategic options can be designed and analysed during development.
”Large pharmaceutical companies are often organized in silos, and it can be hard to change the mindset and get different groups to work together. Our simulation tool provides a completely integrated view of development, said Vänngård.

Captario’s approach: Data analysis in the cloud
Captario has developed its cloud-based simulation tool, Captario SUM, to help companies create and evaluate different drug development ideas and ultimately to make better drug development decisions. The tool uses simulation data to provide predictions of value, risk and future market potential.
”We understand how hard it is to factor in all important aspects into different options. Our simulation tool enables teams to capture variables and complexities at any level of detail throughout the entire product life cycle. The project is then run tens of thousands of times, and Captario SUM uses the outcomes as a statistical sample for analysis,” said Vänngård. ”This provides the project team with a set of new and essential insights regarding value and risk, and strengths and weaknesses, as well as the main drivers for value. These insights are often leveraged through the creation of new and better options. Using this iterative approach, teams have consistently been able to come up with options that are worth more than the original set of options. The value increase varies but in some cases it has been nearly $100 million.”
One of the strengths of the Captario SUM simulation tool is that it allows complexities to interplay just as in real life, effectively creating virtual real-world data.

How does Captario work with its clients?
Captario offers its simulation tool through the cloud, and the company’s primary target market is the 50 largest pharma companies in the world.
”Large pharma companies usually have their own in-house portfolio analysts. Captario SUM opens up a new paradigm for them, allowing them to support top executives in portfolio decisions as well as project teams in individual decisions, all in one tool. This means that value and risk can seamlessly be reflected both at project and at portfolio level,” said Vänngård. ”This is becoming increasingly important as profit margins within the pharma industry have become smaller.”
The tool is also relevant to small or medium sized companies. The difference with smaller pharma companies, especially start-ups, however, is that they are often based on a single research discovery and that they frequently lack drug development experience.
”We can help smaller companies consider the entire development path and also the drug’s time to the market. More specifically, this can reflect how early stage development decisions could impact the value of any subsequent licensing agreements,” Vänngård said. ”As this type of companies often lack their own analysts, we provide them with this capability.”

Captario is currently working closely with one of the very largest pharma companies in the world and other big pharma companies are showing an ever growing interest in Captario’s game-changing simulation tool.