BeyondWest Co-Founder and CMO Robert Hindes, MD, CT

Robert Hindes, MD of Connecticut currently serves as the chief medical officer at Trek Therapeutics, the Cambridge, Mass. based pharmaceutical company he co-founded in 2014. Before establishing Trek Therapeutics, Robert Hindes, MD, spent a decade in various positions with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), starting with a role as associate director, and eventually becoming Group Director and Medical Lead for the hepatitis C small molecule development program. In that role, he developed and supervised clinical trials for daclatasvir and asunaprevir, two of the leading hepatitis C drugs at BMS.

Prior to becoming medical lead for the HCV program, Dr. Hindes helped develop and monitor trials for the hepatitis B drug entecavir, which had a successful NDA in 2005. Before co-founding Trek Therapeutics, Dr. Robert Hindes also served as the vice president of clinical development at Pharmasset, Inc., in Princeton, New Jersey.

Supporting the Award-winning Danbury Hospital Praxair Cancer Center

Robert Hindes, MD of CT, is a medical researcher and pharmaceutical consultant with dual board certification in internal medicine and infectious diseases. Prior to becoming a clinical researcher in the pharmaceutical industry, Robert Hindes, MD, was a member of the infectious disease group at Danbury Hospital for over a decade.

As one of the top-ranking medical centers in the Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN), Danbury Hospital has served Fairfax County for more than 130 years. To continually invest in state-of-the-art medical treatments, Danbury Hospital relies on contributions from fundraisers, such as the WCHN Cancer Golf Tournament.

Scheduled to take place at Rolling Hills Country Club on June 1, 2015, the WCHN Cancer Golf Tournament will support the Praxair Cancer Center at Danbury Hospital, the Diebold Family Center at New Milford Hospital, and the Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital. Over the past 26 years, community members have come together and contributed more than $5 million to programs ranging from early detection and prevention to individualized treatment and survivorship care.

Having become an award-winning institution since its inception over 20 years ago, the Praxair Cancer Center ranks in the top quartile of programs accredited by the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer.

Protease Inhibitors Explained

The current chief medical officer of Trek Therapeutics in Connecticut, Robert Hindes, MD, has held clinical leadership positions with some of the best-known pharmaceutical companies in the United States, including Bristol Myers Squibb, and Pharmasset. As a former group director at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Robert Hindes, MD, conducted clinical research with protease inhibitors, considered some of the most promising treatment regimens for individuals with Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Protease inhibitors work by inactivating proteases, enzymes used to break down proteins into smaller chains of amino acids. Many biological proteases involve an active site with a negatively charged analog of the amino acid serine, which functions as a “knife” that cuts an amino acid chain. As such, protease inhibitors often function by deactivating the serine hydroxyl unit.

By preventing proteases from breaking down proteins, protease inhibitors can preserve cellular components and prevent viruses such as HCV from carrying out their normal functions. However, one protease inhibitor is rarely enough to deactivate all known proteases, and the virus commonly develops mutations which are resistant to a specific protease inhibitor. For this reason, antiviral treatment often uses a “cocktail” of multiple HCV drugs from different classes, such as NS5A inhibitors and polymerase inhibitors. In this way, the resistant mutants resulting from protease inhibitors are suppressed by drugs from the other classes of HCV drugs, and the other drugs combine with the protease inhibitors to increase potency against the hepatitis virus. Robert Hindes, MD, is currently evaluating the protease inhibitor Faldaprevir in combination with other HCV drugs.

HCV Drug Price Barriers and Their Effect on the NHS

After working as the medial lead for hepatitis C antiviral drug development at Bristol Myers Squibb, a biopharmaceutical company based in Connecticut, Robert Hindes, MD, held a number of other leadership positions before co-founding Trek Therapeutics in 2014. Now working as the company’s chief medical officer, Robert Hindes, MD, focuses on confronting the issue of the affordability of hepatitis C (HCV) drugs.

In 2016, England’s National Health Service, which offers public health care to residents of the country, announced it would be placing a cap of 10,000 on the number of hepatitis C patients it would treat. This action led to a public outcry, particularly as estimates (reported on in the English newspaper The Guardian) place the number of people with hepatitis C in that country at 160,000.

The cap was implemented in response to the costs involved with the use of new drugs to treat the condition. Figures reported in the same newspaper noted that an eight-week treatment course using ledipasvir-sofosbuvir, which is capable of curing the condition, costs £26,000 (approximately $32,000); this amount increases to £78,000 (over $96,000) for patients requiring a 24-week course. An NHS England spokesperson said: “The NHS’s single biggest new treatment investment this year is providing these high-cost treatments to thousands of people with Hep C, in accordance with Nice (national institute for health and care excellence). The NHS has successfully now treated thousands of patients with acute needs, and is now working on a phased basis to treat the far larger number of patients with chronic but not life-threatening Hep C".

Even, however, assuming the more modest eight-week course, the country's cap provides for up to a total cost of £260 million (over $321 million) per year with the cap in place. As this calculation demonstrates, even in developed countries like England, the sheer scale of the issue of affordability of HCV treatment is a great challenge.