In what has already been a busy year for Vigilant Biosciences, the Ft. Lauderdale-based maker of early cancer detection products has reached another distribution deal. The company announced last week a three-year sales agreement with Eurobio (Les Ulis, France). Under the terms of the agreement, Eurobio will exclusively market and sell Vigilant Biosciences' OncAlert Oral Cancer Risk Assessment System in France, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Eurobio will begin introducing the product to the European and North African market when the OncAlert POC Test and OncAlert LAB Assay are granted CE Mark approval, which is expected later this fall. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Earlier this year, Vigilant Biosciences completed a $5.5 million round of Series B funding. In March, at IDS 2015, the company announced a five-year, $5 million distribution agreement with BL&H for sale of the OncAlert system in Korea.
We asked Vigilant Biociences founder and CEO Matthew Kim about the new agreement. Here’s what Kim had to say.
Kim: We saw many opportunities as we looked to move into these international markets. Specifically, in France, there are more than 18,900 new cases of head and neck cancer every year. 90% of those cancers are for the mouth, the larynx, the oropharynx, and the hypopharynx, and 5,000 patients die every year from an oral cancer.
Additionally, France does not have a global screening campaign, though they observe a “Cancer Awareness Week” in September. Competitive tests of this type do not exist on the market, with the “gold standard” being a medical consultation, followed by biopsy.
The main targets in this market will be GPs, ENT specialists, and dentists. In France, there are 220,000 GPs, 3,000 ENT specialists, and 40,000 dentists.
As far as challenges go, obtaining “share of mind” with key opinion leaders was a hurdle to overcome, as it is with any new product. Additionally, since a generally accepted screening adjunctive or risk assessment test for oral cancer does not exist, there is no reimbursement for our tests in this market yet.
Apex360: Why was Eurobio the right partner to make this happen?
Kim: Eurobio is a leading developer, manufacturer, and marketer of high-quality, innovative in-vitro diagnostic products for biotechnology, research, and pharmaceutical companies. The company works closely with scientists in research institutes, including CNRS, INSERM, INRA, CNEVA, as well as life science companies, universities, hospitals, and medical laboratories. As such, Eurobio is an ideal partner for successful introduction of the Vigilant OncAlert Oral Cancer Risk Assessment System in this market. Eurobio is uniquely positioned to leverage the system in both the dental and medical channels, consistent with the cross-disciplinary standard of care for oral cancer detection and intervention.
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The scope of the oral cancer problem is large, which translates into opportunity for companies offering products that screen, diagnose, and treat oral cancer. In France alone, more than 38 million people are at risk for oral cancer due to tobacco use, heavy drinking, or exposure to the HPV virus—key risk factors for the disease—according to the World Health Organization and the HPV Information Centre.
"We are excited to partner with Vigilant Biosciences to bring this important test to patients in France and North Africa,” says Jean-Michel Carle, CEO of Eurobio. “When healthcare professionals are armed with this system to quickly and accurately assess the risk of oral cancer, before it progresses to late stage, lives can be saved.”
Sources: Apex360 e-interview with Matthew Kim; Vigilant Biosciences press release 6-10-15.
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RELATED VIDEO: Vigilant Biosciences unveils OncAlert to the world at IDS 2015
Additional information provided by Vigilant Biosciences:
About the OncAlert Oral Cancer Risk Assessment System : Vigilant’s initial product, the OncAlert Oral Cancer Risk Assessment System, includes the OncAlert Oral Cancer Rapid Point-of-Care Risk Assessment Test and the OncAlert Oral Cancer CD44 + Total Protein Lab Test. Both products in the OncAlert System are based on patented technology that detects specific protein markers known to indicate an elevated risk for oral cancer, even prior to the observation of visual or physical symptoms. The simple, oral rinse procedure is easy to administer and non-invasive for the patient. The test can benefit every adult, with particular emphasis on high-risk populations (i.e., current and former tobacco users, those who consume alcohol, and people with HPV.) Both products that comprise the OncAlert Oral Cancer Risk Assessment System are currently under the CE Mark registration approval process and expected for release by Q3 2015.
About Oral Cancer : According to the World Health Organization, there are over 600,000 new cases of head and neck cancer and 300,000 deaths each year worldwide. In the United States, more than 54,000 individuals were diagnosed with head and neck cancers in 2014, with 13,500 deaths from the disease. Historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high due to late-stage diagnosis and intervention. Currently, the vast majority of patients are detected through a visual exam and/or are symptomatic, at which point they are likely late stage. As a result, oral cancer often goes undetected to the point of metastasizing. Early diagnosis of oral cancer results in a cure rate of up to 90 percent.
About Eurobio : Founded in 1962, Eurobio is a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of high-quality, innovative in-vitro diagnostic products for biotechnology, research and pharmaceutical laboratories. Eurobio has two operating divisions: Life Sciences and Diagnostics. The company is located northwest of Paris in Les Ulis. For more information, visit www.eurobio.fr.
About Vigilant Biosciences, Inc. : Vigilant Biosciences is an innovator and developer of solutions that aid clinicians in the early detection and intervention of cancer. Its point-of-care and lab-based products allow healthcare practitioners to easily assess the risk of oral cancer early and improve outcomes through earlier intervention. The Vigilant Bioscience™ OncAlert™ Oral Cancer Risk Assessment System point-of-care and lab assay products are currently undergoing the CE Mark registration approval process. For more information, visit www.vigilantbiosciences.com.