CEO One-on-One with Johannes Vänngård, CEO, and Erik Post, CFO & President, Captario U.S.

In light of the (ongoing Coronavirus crisis and the) ramped-up race between nations and companies to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, SACCNY tapped into its vast network to hear about the latest developments in the pharmaceutical industry. We spoke with member, Captario, and their CEO, Johannes Vänngård, and CFO and President, Erik Post, about the challenges pharmaceutical companies are currently facing and Captario’s growing importance within the industry.

Pictured: Johannes Vänngård, CEO

Captario, a Swedish innovator in the pharmaceutical industry, takes an approach that integrates a holistic view of the development program and product lifecycle, supporting companies in drug development in a way that is not available anywhere else. The company has developed a cloud-based platform, Captario SUM, to support simulation-based scenario modeling. This has the potential to address strategic issues within the industry, and accelerate the development of new medicines and potentially even the COVID-19 vaccine.

A key factor affecting development is informed decision making. This includes decisions on how to optimize individual drug projects and how to prioritize them in a portfolio setting. This in turn requires a focused yet holistic view from early development through market launch.

Captario’s CEO, Johannes Vänngård indicates that the more thorough a drug project is in early development, the less likely it is to fail at a later and much more expensive stage. However, the reduced risk must be offset against the additional time to market as well as the risk of losing market shares. Understanding these types of tradeoffs, maximizing value while minimizing risk, is at the core of Captario’s offering. In the absence of Captario SUM, the process for evaluating an alternative strategy can take many weeks. With Captario SUM this can instead be done in a matter of minutes thanks to its dynamic nature. This gain of time is multiplied manifold over the 8 years of developing a new drug. This efficiency enables more options to be considered and ultimately increases the probability to find the very best way to bring a drug to its patients.

Adding to that, Captario’s CFO and President, Erik Post, notes that an evaluation for reprioritization in a whole portfolio, where stakeholders and company executives come together and meet for strategic decision-making, typically only occurs once annually in pharmaceutical companies. The problem with this approach is that the market and competition constantly evolve – using Captario SUM on an enterprise level, a company can instead make informed decisions in near real time.

Here is where the “COVID Challenge” comes in. Traditionally, the industry has worked in silos, creating a lengthy process of bureaucracy and red tape. When something changes, every silo needs to react before the project or overall portfolio is re-evaluated. However, today’s rapidly changing business landscape due to the Coronavirus makes developing a viable vaccine for massive global consumption not only extremely urgent but it also fundamentally challenges the norms of the industry.

An industry that has traditionally relied on blockbuster drugs and lengthy turnaround is now looking at reprioritizing and changing its very nature. Post says that regulators, such as the FDA, currently are re-evaluating this process without compromising safety in order to push a Coronavirus vaccine to the market within 18 months, an ambitious and unheard-of, but much needed, timeline in today’s drug development.

To make this happen, Captario can help. Some pharmaceutical companies are now striving to develop a vaccine with an extreme speed, but all companies are trying to grasp the impact that COVID-19 has on the development of other drugs with regard to time, cost and sales under patent. Used effectively, time can be spent on crafting smart strategies that minimize delays that hit patients in need of new medicines. To manage these challenges, companies need to be agile and able to re-evaluate decisions on a regular basis as new information arises, Vänngård elaborates.

Captario is contributing to the cause with their Rapid Scenario Evaluation(RSE), a technique that returns possible scenarios and outcomes in no more than three days. Pharmaceutical companies have the ability to expeditiously reassess their ongoing drug projects, in an unprecedented way.

“I think that it is necessary for companies to be agile in their decisions. The turnaround time for an evaluation of different scenarios and possible actions shouldn’t take weeks or months, rather hours or days. The current situation (COVID-19) highlights something we have seen in the industry for a long time and pushes us to lead the big pharmaceutical companies in this direction,” says Vänngård.

COVID-19 has triggered much needed collaboration throughout the industry. Vänngård comments that in today’s ongoing developments, “it’s less each company for itself. Rather it’s more about what we can do together to save lives. It is very encouraging.”

Needless to say, COVID-19’s strain on the pharmaceutical industry has pushed it to innovate and test faster, something that will revolutionize drug development forever. Innovation is born out of disruption and COVID-19 is one of the most disruptive situations we have ever dealt with. Captario’s digital tool helps the industry leverage the momentum of the crisis, making necessary and lasting changes that lead to faster and more efficient decision making in the pharmaceutical industry.

The interview concludes on a positive note, with Post stating that Captario “can make a big difference. That’s something we feel strongly about and we talk a lot about in today’s COVID-19 crisis. The fact is that vaccines can be launched and benefit patients in need quicker – that’s the important part.”

In similar fashion, SACCNY is putting its efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis in any way it can. The team at SACCNY encourages all members to help and contribute, in addition to any resources available at this time. Please reach out to Emma Fredwall, our Head of Business Services, at, and let us know how your business could collaborate with us or support other businesses through the coronavirus crisis.


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