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Cheryl R. Blanchard
Ph.D. - President & CEO
Anika Therapeutics

17 February 2023

Could you please introduce Anika Therapeutics and provide an overview of the vision that has guided the company in the years since you took over as CEO?

In 2022, Anika Therapeutics celebrated its 30th anniversary. Traditionally, the company has been focused on the osteoarthritis pain management space, with sales and marketing conducted through partners across the United States, Europe, Canada, and several other countries around the world. The company has undergone a rebirth over the last three years, as we decided to pivot our strategy to provide more value to patients and shareholders. We acquired two companies: Parcus Medical, which specializes in sports medicine and soft tissue repair, and Arthrosurface, which specializes in bone-preserving, anatomically correct, minimally invasive joint implants.

How did these acquisitions affect Anika's footprint in terms of employees and business size?

They had a significant, positive impact on the business, and part of our new strategy was to begin selling our products directly rather than through partners. Parcus, Arthrosurface, and Anika all had small sales footprints, but combining the three companies immediately gave us much greater commercial execution power with a larger sales force in the US, allowing us to sell more products. It also changed our footprint in that we expanded our manufacturing and nearly tripled our employee base to around 350 global employees today. The mergers provided us with stronger technology, industry knowledge, manufacturing capabilities, and sales and marketing power, allowing us to quickly accelerate our growth.

What areas of innovation are you currently concentrating on?

We are concentrating our efforts on developing products that enable a more simplified approach with instrumentation and procedures.


Our strategy now focuses on early intervention – regenerating and repairing over replacement – and even when replacement is required, the goal is to be minimally invasive and recreate the patients’ native anatomy.


Patients are naturally drawn to things that are less invasive and will get them back to active living sooner, so this type of innovation is very appealing to them.

What happened during the global pandemic also encouraged this approach. Many elective procedures, including in orthopedics, were canceled at the start of COVID-19, even though people were in severe pain, which is debilitating and prevented them from functioning normally in their day-to-day lives. We watched COVID have a significant impact on these types of procedures because hospitals were unable to accept these patients; as a result, we learned that there is a significant need for early intervention solutions. Additionally, it reinforced for us that orthopedic procedures that are simpler and minimally invasive can be done in ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) – a setting that is very different in terms of what surgeons can do and how many instrument trays can be processed compared to a hospital setting. It also allows more accessibility for patients to schedule their orthopedic procedures and return home the same day.

Speaking of the global pandemic, how do you think it has affected the broader life science sector?

From the standpoint of the general public, the COVID pandemic has brought to light what the pharma, medtech, and medical device sectors offer patients in order to improve their quality of life, and it has positively changed the world's perception of the life sciences industry. The pandemic has also prompted patients to conduct more independent research into their treatment options, altering the dynamic of how the industry provides care and how patients perceive their ability to access care.

I also believe that our industry has learned a lot about how to bring innovations to market. For example, as we began to rethink how to ensure our products could be available in ASC settings, other companies adjusted their innovation mindset as well.

Could you provide some examples of recent innovations brought to market that have been particularly beneficial for patients?

Of course. Tactoset is one of our core products – an injectable bone void filler enhanced with hyaluronic acid as its regenerative component. This product can treat insufficiency fractures, which are typically the first source of pain for a patient and, if left untreated, frequently leads to joint replacement. 

Another example is our anatomic OVOMotion with Inlay Glenoid Total Shoulder Implant, which enables total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) to be performed without significantly altering the anatomy or biomechanics of what the patient feels when moving their shoulder. This implant has an inlay glenoid, which makes it more anatomically natural, biomechanically competent, and bone preserving. Patients love this innovation because it feels just like their natural joint and allows them to return to their active lifestyles. We are currently preparing to launch our next generation of shoulder implant innovations, which we are very excited about.

Another innovative product is Cingal, a combination hyaluronic acid and fast-acting steroid injection for osteoarthritis knee pain. We have completed Phase III clinical trials for this injectable solution, and have really robust and exciting clinical data in terms of the pain relief it provides – an overall 73% pain reduction that lasts over six months. This product is currently sold in over 35 countries outside of the United States, but we would like to bring it to the US market in the near future.

What are your goals and ambitions for the coming years?

We will continue to innovate and position the company as a global leader for joint preservation solutions, while remaining committed to restoring active living for patients worldwide. We want to keep our salesforce structured in such a way that we can get products to market quickly, so that patients can make use of them early on. As an industry, we must remain mindful of how products are delivered in any given care setting, as well as stay focused on developing products that provide patients with easy access to early intervention care.

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