Dr. Tony Coles, CEO of Cerevel Therapeutics joins Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani and the On the Move panel to discuss Cerevel's public debut on the Nasdaq.
JULIE HYMAN: Welcome back. I want to bring in our Anjalee Khemlani now, who has a special guest whose company just started trading. Anjalee.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Thanks, Julie. Hi, Dr. Coles. Dr. Tony Coles, thank you for joining us today. This is the new CEO of Cerevel Therapeutics, which just went public on NASDAQ today. Dr. Coles, I understand that you had a long history in the pharmaceutical industry with major companies like Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb. Vertex, Onyx are names that are on your resume.
And we also know that this is a company that is a spin-off from Pfizer. And you also sit on the board of two very important companies, such as Regeneron and McKesson, very important with the COVID pandemic right now. So clearly a very big day for you and a very important time right now.
Let's start off with Cerevel going public today. Why now, and what is the purpose and the goal behind this spin-off, which focuses, as I understand, on neurosciences?
TONY COLES: Well, thanks, Anjalee. And thanks for having me with you today. We're very excited about what is happening for Cerevel. As you know, Cerevel is the result of the combination of Pfizer's neuroscience assets and Bain's capital commitment. That's how the company started two years or so ago.
So it's been a short two years to this public offering. We've done the public offering mostly so that we could generate the resources to actually move forward and advance six programs in the clinic. We've got new potential medicines for the treatment of schizophrenia, for epilepsy, for Parkinson's disease.
And what we know at Cerevel is that neuroscience is really the last great frontier in drug development. We just don't know enough of how the brain itself works, the biology of the brain, what causes these diseases. And Cerevel aims to be on the forefront of figuring this out. So we want to be the premiere neuroscience company because we've got a unique insight into how the brain is wired.
And the way the brain is wired we think makes a difference in the treatment of these kinds of diseases. Epilepsy for sure, Parkinson's disease, dementia, all of these diseases involve neurotransmitters and receptors, the basic wiring of the brain. If we can target these receptors selectively and really treat these diseases, eliminate symptoms, and get rid of side effects or minimize side effects, then we will have done our job. And that's what makes this such an exciting moment for the company.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Looking at sort of the sector right now, it seems like to the point of having a spin-off, it is more concentrated effort to work on therapeutics like this. This is coming at a time where the entire country is focused on the healthcare industry in many different ways. But in particular, when it comes to pricing, I just wonder how that all plays a role when you're looking at the sort of novel developments.
TONY COLES: Well, one of the things that's really important is that we stay focused on the patients and what the patients need. So I always like to start there. I'm trained as a cardiologist. I took care of patients for many years at the beginning of my career. So I'm really very, very focused on how we help them treat these diseases, how we help the caregivers in their lives ease the burden for the treatment of these particular diseases.
We have to have the conversation about reimbursement and pricing. And we as an industry have to be responsible as we think through that. But at the same time, we want to make sure that we're really staying clearly focused on the innovation that's required to treat Parkinson's disease, to treat Alzheimer's disease, to treat Lou Gehrig's diseases.
If we can do this, we can actually, literally, change the course of medical history. So I like focusing on the innovation aspect and improving the lives of patients. But those conversations are all really very important.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Speaking of innovation, you're on the board of Regeneron, and we just got some good news about the antibody treatments that we know the president received. Looking at that right now and the EUA still in the wings, what are your hopes for getting that on the market?
TONY COLES: Well, I will say the following. This is one of the proudest moments for the biopharmaceutical industry. The entire world is counting on the biopharmaceutical industry to really help us address this crisis that is the COVID pandemic. So all eyes are really on our industry, and the industry has such a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate its contribution to mankind and society.
Of course, the data from Regeneron that were released last night are very interesting and even very exciting. And we're just going to wait and watch and see what happens at the FDA. But as quickly as we can find both a vaccine and a really effective antiviral therapy, I think the world would be very grateful for those contributions from the industry.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Absolutely. And going on to the role of McKesson, another company that you're on the board of, we know that they're playing a pivotal role in sort of the distribution aspect right now. When it comes to moving forward from here, is it something that we can anticipate the pace to be really quick? Are you looking at sort of the hiccups that critics are pointing out right now?
TONY COLES: Well, I think a lot of this question around the vaccine, how we bring an end to the pandemic, can be divided into two parts. One, what's the most effective therapy, either an antiviral or a preventive vaccine. And how do we get it to as many people as quickly as we possibly can?
And that's where a company like McKesson can play an important role. They've already been selected to be one of the key distributors for whatever vaccine is ultimately produced. And we do know that while we might have a vaccine at some point, we hope within the next few weeks to several months, getting it to where it's most needed is really going to be what's important.
And I'm really proud of the work of both Regeneron and McKesson and proud of my affiliation. So the industry right now, the healthcare industry, we really have a lot to offer.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Dr. Tony Coles, CEO of Cerevel Therapeutics, thanks so much for joining us today.
TONY COLES: Thank you for having me.