In the last Empower Newsletter, Winter 2020 edition, I started off with the statement, “we’re now in the ’20s. A new era of rediscovering what was once old, but with a modern twist.” What collectively we didn’t expect was that the Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization of an outbreak of a novel strain of coronavirus causing severe illness, which was subsequently named COVID-19.
A little more than 100 years ago, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans. The 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, the United States, and parts of Asia before swiftly spreading around the world. At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, schools, theatres, and businesses were shuttered and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues before the virus ended its deadly global march.
Here we are in 2020 and history has repeated itself. The public perception of the pharma industry may be starting to turn, thanks to concerted COVID-related efforts. New data surfaced a few bright spots for pharma, including public hope and optimism for treatments and vaccines as a result of the way the companies are reacting to the pandemic, people are two times more likely to feel positively toward the industry.
This is highly relevant because before COVID-19, the pharmaceutical industry was villainized due to the harm it caused society with the opioid crisis and now it’s potentially the “white knight” globally for society. This positive turnaround in perception should reinforce the increased value of the continued investment made into EmpowerPharm by its shareholders for doing good for society and having a positive social impact.
We are currently commissioning and qualifying our manufacturing facility in Burlington to manufacture our clinical batches targeting mid to late 2020 to allow for our Phase 1 clinical studies, our initial drug indication is anxiety. Today, due to COVID-19 and for years to come, society’s anxiety levels have never been higher. For many of us, COVID-19 makes for a very uncertain future. People worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones, both here and abroad. People may also have a lot of concerns around school or work, their finances, their ability to take part in important community and social events and hobbies, and other important parts of their lives. People who already experience a lot of anxiety may find their anxiety worsening. The need to help reduce anxiety is and will be more needed than ever, helping people to empower their health through this challenge.
During the last few months, as our world has changed with new social norms of “stay at home, stay safe” government guidelines, EmpowerPharm has continued to move forward with the completion of our state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Burlington, Ontario with a dedicated management team working remotely from home. I am personally very proud of Peter Billiaert, President & Co-Founder’s leadership and attention to all the hundreds of details during the entire process of construction. All of our team members, consultants, and contractors have really stepped up practicing responsible COVID-19 practices during these uncertain times, never slowing down their efforts and commitment to ensure that we can have the plant GMP ready for the upcoming Health Canada inspection for our Drug Establishment Licence (DEL).
In this edition of the Empower News, you will read about the completed construction of the various production rooms and mechanical systems that make up the manufacturing plant described in detail on our virtual tour. In the meantime, you can watch the video below to see the transformation during the construction process over the last year.
We are planning our first virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) with our shareholders on Thursday, June 11th, 2020 at 10:30 am EST (click to register here). We will be online with Peter Billiaert, President & Co-Founder, Chrys Chrysanthou, CFO and myself to provide more insights into what’s to come going forward. In my past, I may have produced many theatrical productions, but I don’t claim to be an actor, so this will be new to all of us.
We are in the process of finalizing our next private placement to take place in Q3 2020 as we raise additional capital for our continued clinical research. We plan to provide our existing shareholders first peek at our deck to see if there is interest in topping up their investment. Our goal is to go public in the near future and in the meantime to ensure that every aspect of the business is ready for a seamless transition. We continue to strengthen our management team with deep expertise and knowledge to scale up commercially. Many industries have laid off people due to COVID-19, whereas we are continuing to hire new team members as we have a long-term commitment to the future.
These are very exciting times as our vision is now a reality and “the rubber is hitting the road”. None of this would be possible without an incredible management team, Board of Directors, Clinical and Medical Advisory Board, consultants, construction team, and trades that have helped build EmpowerPharm. My gratitude and appreciation are overwhelming.
Onwards on our journey of being Empowered!
Executive Chairman and Co-Founder