In 2018 seven pharma companies - GSK, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Roche, Janssen, Sanofi and Biogen - came together to form the European Pharmaceutical Oligonucleotide Consortium (or EPOC for short). Led by Rachel Orr, Enablement Manager at GSK, the 'organically grown' group aims to 'promote the publication of information about oligos and gather the knowledge together to put forward some industry perspective on how we may be able to develop these therapeutics in different ways'.
Orr explained to us that with very few approved oligo products, it means that there is very little public information; 'there's an awful lot of data, information and expertise, but it's all in little silos between different companies'. Therefore, pre-competitive collaboration and publication is essential for making the information available to the whole oligonucleotide community.
Orr hopes that such collaboration will drive the industry forwards, with the ultimate goal of making more medicines available to patients. She explains: 'These medicines are typically complex and for rare diseases, so if there's anything we can do drive that and make it more simple, that's the aim.'
Though the group is less than a year old, Orr hopes that one day, as more products get approved, more information becomes available and potentially some ICH guidelines, there will no longer be a need for EPOC. However, for now they will continue evolving, learning and expanding to foster collaboration in the therapeutic oligos industry.