New Insight: The Journey to a Drug Approval with Cedric Francois, MD, PhD

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In the latest episode of New Insight, Veeral Sheth, MD sat down with Cedric Francois, MD, PhD, to discuss the recent FDA approval of pegcetacoplan (SYFOVRE™), the interplay between being a clinician and corporate executive, and how the retina landscape may change in the coming years.

The recent US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of pegcetacoplan injection (SYFOVRE™) as the first-and-only treatment for geographic atrophy (GA) has already marked a whirlwind year in retina.

In the newest episode of New Insight with Veeral Sheth, MD, Cedric Francois, MD, PhD, celebrated it as the culmination of nearly 20 years of hard work. Of course, Francois is the co-founder and chief executive officer/president of Apellis Pharmaceuticals, who received the FDA approval in February 2023.

Here, Sheth spoke with Francois on finally crossing that finish line and the launch of the therapy into the real-world setting. The experts dug into the timeline of the company’s work with pegcetacoplan injection and the journey that it takes from the beginnings of working towards a therapy to introducing it in the clinical setting. They spoke of the challenges faced and often, the sheer luck to get to the point therapies are at now.

Experts discussed the real-world uptake of the therapy and how the market for GA agents may soon change again. Sheth asked Francois about this changing landscape and how the patient perspective may change due to these new treatments. They touched on the need to explain to patients both the concept of treating GA and the process it may take to reach impactful improvements, as well as providers who may be hesitant to introduce the therapy into their practice.

Sheth questions Francois on the balance he needs to strike between being a clinician and scientist and being a corporate executive, and if there are ever clashes between these viewpoints. He also asks about the next steps for Apellis and what they are hoping to accomplish in the coming years. To wrap-up, Sheth asks Francois to be a “dreamer” and share his thoughts on what may be a gamechanger in the ophthalmology space within the next 10 years and even beyond.

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Please direct any podcast-related inquiries to show producer Connor Iapoce.