Updated on 13 February 2013
Mr Robert J Braithwaite, CEO and founder, Luqa Pharmaceuticals, China
Mr Robert J Braithwaite, who came to China 15 years ago, was greatly influenced following his exposure to the dragon nation. The realization that there is a demand for drugs of various kinds and a huge unmet clinical need, led him to establish a company that would address just that.
Founded in 2010 and self-funded until a year ago, Shanghai-based Luqa Pharmaceuticals is a late-stage pharmaceutical R&D company with two very clear focuses: China and great products. "We are China-based and China-focused, and have a mission to develop, market and build great products suited to the China market," says Mr Braithwaite, who also functions as the CEO of the company and is on the board of directors. "Products are really at the core of our strategy, and are above everything else we do or build. 'Product is king' is our informal motto!"
Luqa's strategy for success in the business is clear. Stay small and stay away from areas where the heavy guns are out, such as oncology and anti-invectives. "These are highly competitive areas, which in general we also see little chance of building sustainable brands in," says Mr Braithwaite. The company's focus areas are dermatology, wound care and otic products. Special focus is on topical solutions, a niche but a broad area.
Luqa's first product and its key asset is eberconazole (Ebernet), a topical NCE for the treatment of fungal infections. It has a unique profile with a very unique formulation. "What we are most excited about is the long life-cycle that we see ahead. We have two line extensions already, one of them with the potential of being a first-in-class product," says Mr Braithwaite. Luqa acquired the rights for Asia, Middle East and North Africa to this molecule from Salvat in 2010. "We are in development in China, where we are waiting for some positive feedback from the authorities within the next two quarters. Apart from China, we have partnered the product in multiple geographies and now have over 20 active registrations on-going around the globe," he adds. Initial launch of eberconazole is expected between late this year and early 2014.
Mr Braithwaite, a UK national, has been living in Shanghai since 2005, and is a BA (Honours) graduate from the University of Humberside in the UK. Before starting Luqa, he worked with Almirall, a pharmaceutical company, to build the company's presence in China. He also spent five years with Alcon, an experience that helped him gather knowledge about the medical devices market.