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Bright Path CEO explains the importance of producing pharmaceutical drugs in the U.S.

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Bright Path CEO Tony Quinone joins Yahoo Finance to discuss how the Build Back Better Plan will promote locally produced paharmaceutical drugs.

Video transcript

- And you'll stick with us now as we stay on this topic now with our next guest. Tony Quinones is CEO of the drug development and manufacturing company Bright Path Labs. And Tony, thank you so much for joining us now. And of course, one critical component of vaccine makers' response to COVID and now to the omicron variant is the manufacturing process and actually being able to scale that up. And tying this all back to what's been going on in Washington, the Biden administration's Build Back Better proposal includes plans to spend billions on expanding vaccine manufacturing capacity. Talk to us about how Bright Path Labs would fit into these plans.

TONY QUINONES: Sure. Bright Path Labs moved through a research and development agreement over a number of years with the EPA, and recently worked with the FDA Emerging Technology program to create an advanced manufacturing platform based here, patented in the US. And so we've been prepared to be able to partner with companies to manufacture at least 60 essential medicines and a number of orphan rare disease medicines, and be able to accelerate rapid drug development as some of these new vaccines come on board. Some of the intermediaries and other bulk materials that are needed to make these medicines, our platform allows us to be able to do this very rapidly right here in the US.

ANJALI KHEMLANI: Tony, Anjali here. I know that President Biden just walked off the podium a little earlier today, really touting the idea of drugs being more affordable. If things are to start developing in the US-- and I know that's one of the pushes that we saw starting with the Trump administration, you started that agreement with the FDA then-- I want to talk about the pricing part of it. How do you plan to include affordability as part of this whole process?

TONY QUINONES: Well, that was the main driver of our company, is to make safe, affordable drugs here in the US. And our ability to do that is by reducing the number of steps needed to make the same medicine. In traditional methodologies, requires a number of different steps, a larger platform, more staff, more moving supply chain pieces.

And we're able to eliminate a number of those steps by using continuous flow manufacturing methodology. So we're reducing materials, which has a big impact on the environment, and a higher quality of the medicine. So overall, we end up being able to manufacture at a lower cost. And we're expecting to be able to pass that along to the supply chain, and ultimately to the patient.

ANJALI KHEMLANI: So ultimately, you see being able to compete with, say, the APIs that are produced in China and India at really, really cheap prices, and being able to transfer that, as well, over here, even as the industry starts pursuing more complex therapies, such as genetics. You're focusing on being able to do sort of the core part of it.

TONY QUINONES: Absolutely. That's been our focus for a number of years, is looking at how we can reduce the number of steps in a chemistry and taking biological routes and turning them into synthetic routes and lowering those costs. So we think the timing of our entry into the market is ideal, as the price challenges are going to continue, supply challenges are going to continue. We think that we're perfectly poised to be able to make an immediate impact in 2022 with some of the partnerships and the products that we plan on rolling out.

- You have experience doing this. And I'm thinking back to what the Trump administration did when they were sending government money to Kodak, which was trying to shift its business model. Did that somehow, perhaps-- because we were asking you about potential for Build Back Better funds to get your business even moving faster-- did that kerfuffle is the word I will use, because the SEC will fine me if I use another one, leave a bad taste in the mouth of government officials who would be providing money to what you already do and know how to do?

TONY QUINONES: Yeah, it left a bad taste in a lot of emerging technology companies, like Bright Path and some of our other friends out there that, you know, truly have advanced manufacturing platforms that have been in development for a number of years, and have been to be able to produce the actual chemistry.

So it kind of was a bit of a shock to see something like that happen. And our expectation is now, with this new administration and $9 billion allocated in this past legislation, that the Senate, when it rolls over, will be able to look for innovative companies, American innovative companies to be able to make these products here and create the jobs to be able to create the medicines, provide higher quality, and to do what it is that, ideally, we can do with technology. That is make things better immediately.

ANJALI KHEMLANI: Tony, really quickly before we let you go, number one, is this largely going to be reliant on government funding? And number two, how quickly can you get online?

TONY QUINONES: Well, we're online now. We're making products, intermediary products for customers now. And we're planning to be ready, FDA-approved in a CGMP environment by the end of Q1 2022. So we're able to move very quickly, and we do not need government funding. But we do know that a large amount, over $500 billion of federal funds are used to purchase drugs here in America, and we'd love to be able to participate in some of those contracts and be able to provide them, you know, what we believe a much better product.

- All right, we'll leave it there for now. Tony Quinone, CEO of Bright Path Labs, and Yahoo Finance's health reporter Anjali Khamlani, thank you both so much for joining us.

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