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March is National Kidney Month: Celebrating Our Commitment to an Important Patient Community

Louis Allesandrine VP, Oncology and Renal Sales & Marketing

As Vice President of Oncology and Renal Sales & Marketing at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. (OAPI) I am responsible for leading the strategic development and execution of our U.S.-based commercial oncology renal businesses. This includes the co-promotion of SPRYCEL® (dasatinib) with BMS and our clinical stage collaborations with Astex Pharmaceuticals, a member of The Otsuka Group. Our goal is to develop and bring novel cancer therapeutics to market; meeting the needs of patients, their care givers and healthcare professionals. I joined OAPI in 2017 after 25 years of commercial experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining OAPI, I served 6 years as Vice President, Oncology Marketing at Boehringer Ingelheim. Earlier in my career I held a series of leadership positions in sales and marketing focused in the areas of oncology and urology specialty care. I received an M.B.A. degree from Quinnipiac University.

March is an exciting month, because it marks the transition from Winter to Spring and represents a time of renewal, growth and opportunity.In addition to the promise of blooming flowers, more sunlight, and warmer weather, March also recognizes two important calendar events aimed at promoting better kidney health for the estimated 850 million people worldwide1 who have chronic kidney diseases (CKD). In the United States, March is National Kidney Month and across the globe, March 14, marks World Kidney Day (WKD), an international event dedicated to increasing awareness of kidney disease.At Otsuka, this special time of year allows us to reflect on our mission and reaffirm our decade-long commitment to developing and delivering novel treatments for people living with kidney disease.After years of focused clinical research, our strong foundation in renal health began to take shape in March 2014, when Otsuka received approval from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) to market the first approved treatment for a rare disease called autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD).This rare form of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) affects 140,000 people in the U.S. and is the fourth leading cause of end-stage renal disease.2 And while ADPKD is a rare disease, it can be particularly devastating for some families because it can affect multiple generations. A parent with ADPKD has a 50 percent chance of passing the disease on to each of their children.3Following Japan, this treatment has received health authority approval in a number of countries including Canada, the European Union and the United States with more than 2,300 people living with ADPKD in the U.S. having received this important treatment.  But Otsuka’s dedication to kidney health doesn’t stop there. We are excited to be collaborating with Akebia Therapeutics on the development of vadadustat, an investigational drug being studied for the treatment of anemia associated with CKD. Anemia, a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of hemoglobin, is common in patients with CKD and its prevalence increases as the disease progresses.In addition, Otsuka purchased Visterra Pharmaceuticals in 2018 to strengthen our nehprology portfolio by investigating a potential therapy for Immunoglobulin A Nephropathy (IgAN), also known as Berger’s disease, a condition that damages the area inside the kidneys where blood is cleaned.Currently, there is no approved therapy for IgAN. This life-threatening condition is estimated to affect 2.5 per 100,000 people worldwide.4 Between 20-40 percent of people with IgAN develop kidney failure over the course of 20 years.4While there is still much work to be done in the world of renal health, it is important to take the time to celebrate patients, their caregivers, and the healthcare providers who serve this community as well as our collective achievements.We, at Otsuka, are excited about the future and look forward to continuing our work as a leader in addressing the unmet needs of people living with CKD.References
  1. Hill et al. Global Prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLOS ONE | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0158765
  1. Willey, CJ et al. Epidemiology of Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease in the United States. Poster presented at American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week; 2013 Nov 5-10; Atlanta, GA
  1. Torres VE, Grantham JJ. Cystic diseases of the kidney. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Mardsen PA, Skorecki K, Yu ASL, Brenner BM, eds. Brenner & Rector’s The Kidney.Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:1626-1667
  1. Canetta PA, Kiryluk K, Appel GB. Glomerular Diseases: Emerging Tests and Therapies for IgA Nephropathy.Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014; 9: 617–625.
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