[THE INVESTOR] The next few years are critical for Korean biotech firm EOFlow, which plans to develop a wearable that can mimic a real pancreas by 2021. It would be the world’s first such device that can provide stable levels of insulin, just like the real organ.
“We may be a follower right now, but hope to be a leader once our integrated wearable artificial pancreas, EOPancreas, hits the market,” EOFlow CEO Jesse Kim said in a recent interview with The Investor.
EOPancreas’ basic mechanism is to link a blood sugar monitor with an insulin pump patch. “We expect the integrated version to accrue a hefty market share, as it provides a simpler and more sophisticated way of managing blood sugar, which is a critical issue for diabetes patients,” Kim said.
EOFlow CEO Jesse Kim
EOFlow will also produce insulin patches by 2019 -- the EOPatch -- and this also will be different from existing products of companies like Insulet and Valeritas that are thicker, heavier and in many ways less portable.
“Kids can wear our patch on the arm when they’re playing outside. That’s how more wearable it is,” the CEO said.
EOFlow’s EOPatch, comes with a beeper-sized light disposable pump patch and a smartphone like color touchscreen controller.
Kim is also exploring ways to make the device a game changer in the global insulin market, but says this is not an easy task.
“We would like to find partners who wish to prefill their insulin in our gadget, but this isn’t easy because most insulin makers are reticent to team up for fear their products may get cannibalized,” he said.
The products Kim is talking about are pen-type insulin injectors, a market that is dominated by Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. The smaller biotech firms, on the other hand, are scurrying to develop their biosimilar versions.
EOFlow believes it can help these second movers sharpen their competitive edge.
To attract funds for further technological development, the company hopes to float its shares on KOSDAQ by end-2018.
“Our rival Insulet has become a US$5 billion company since its NASDAQ listing in 2007, despite that there are around 200,000 insulin pump users in the world. It’s a hopeful sign as we aim to attract 1,000 patients next year,” Kim said.
Before setting up EOFlow, the CEO ran a semiconductor startup in Silicon Valley after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org)