3.9 million births were recorded in the US in 2013, according to the CDC, down 1% from previous years. Of those, 11.4% were premature births. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), preterm birth is one of the primary causes of perinatal morbidity and mortality, and the Institute of Medicine estimates that preterm births cost the healthcare system $26 billion annually.
10%. This is what the ASRM estimates is the percentage of women who suffer from endometriosis. Of those women, up to 50% can suffer from infertility. Endometriosis is contributing to infertility and the declining birth rate, and a decline in birth rate leads to a decline in future workers, and economic growth. What about the women who desire to have children, and are limited by the impacts of preterm labor or endometriosis? No new drugs that address the issues of PTL and endometriosis have been introduced in years, and since these are such significant issues, it seems like the pharmaceutical industry would have a significant focus on the area. After all, women do make up more than 50% of the population!
On closer examination, pharma has not spent time or energy on the issues of PTL and endometriosis in some time. In fact, a review of the top ten pharma company pipelines show only 4 products in development in the women’s health area, with only one focused on PTL and one on endometriosis. Admittedly, they are focused on solving other significant diseases that will benefit all of us, but they do not have a dedicated focus on fertility diseases/pregnancy – save perhaps the contraceptive. As you can imagine, this is truly an opportunity.
As such, it is with great pleasure that we announce our new investment in ObsEva, a Swiss based company with a novel generation of drugs addressing serious conditions compromising pregnancy, from conception to birth. The company is led by Ernest Loumaye, MD, PhD., a proven industry executive and entrepreneur who has had previous experience and success in building reproductive companies. We are excited to be joining OrbiMed, HBM, and Rock Springs Capital, who are also participating in this financing, and joining original investors Sofinnova Partners, who seeded the company, Sofinnova Ventures, Novo Ventures and MS Ventures. Already, the company is a leader in its space with a late stage pipeline, with products under development in preterm labor, assisted reproductive therapy, and with the recent announcement of an in licensing of KLH-2109 from Kissei Pharmaceuticals of Japan, endometriosis. Already, the ObsEva pipeline is larger than the top 10-pharma pipelines combined in the pregnancy related disease space!
At NEA, we are committed to building great companies, and are looking forward to working with the ObsEva team to continue our track record of success.