Anne Stevens of Aequus Pharmaceuticals (TSXv:AQS | OTCQB:AQSZF)

How a Small Canadian Company is Making a Big Impact in the Pharmaceutical Market

My mission continues.

In my previous interview with Traci Costa, CEO and President of Peekaboo Beans Inc (TSX-V:BEAN | OTCQB:PBBSF), I discussed how publicly traded companies led by women have been gaining more recognition; financial targets are consistently being met and profitability continues to rise.
Despite continued research indicating the financial benefits of positioning women in leadership roles within public companies, recent numbers show less than 3% of venture capital went towards female-founded companies in 2017. The numbers for companies with at least one woman on the founding team were not much higher.

I’m hopeful this will change.

Through these interviews, my goal is to showcase the impactful women behind Canada’s publicly traded market— what their targets are, how they achieve success in their industry and what advice they would give to other women entering the competitive world of the stock market.
Anne Stevens, Co-Founder and COO of Aequus Pharmaceuticals (TSX-V:AQS | OTCQB:AQSZF)  is an extraordinary example of what women in the industry are capable of. Not only is Anne one of the founders of Aequus, she also co-founded Northview Ventures where she is currently a senior partner. With over ten years of experience in the Pharmaceutical, Biotech and Medical Device industry, Anne’s understanding for what patients need has led to the success of Aequus. The Company focuses on developing and commercializing products within Canada’s therapeutic areas, discovering the needs that are often missed by large pharmaceutical companies.

Claudia O’Neill: Anne, it’s great to interview a woman who’s impacting lives by expanding the representation of products in the pharmaceutical industry. Can you tell me how do you understand what the needs are for new medications and devices in the Canadian context? 

Anne Stevens: Certainly. As a specialty pharmaceutical company with a commercial presence in Canada, we have a sales team that has successfully built relationships with physicians who are opinion leaders in their field, allowing for honest and transparent conversations about where the needs really are in the Canadian market. As a nimble company, we can be responsive to those needs within the therapeutic areas we are building. This has really been our philosophy since day one at Aequus, involving physicians, patients, pharmacists and eventual payors in our decision-making process as we evaluate new products to develop or as we look to import or distribute new medications in Canada. Involving all four stakeholder groups ensures that we are targeting medications that matter to patients first and foremost and ensures that the price we would need to charge would be palatable to payors.

Claudia O’Neill: It sounds like you have a great understanding of what patients need. What advantages does Aequus Pharmaceuticals have being a small Canadian-based company? 

Anne Stevens: We knew when we launched our commercial efforts in Canada that we were up against multi-national pharmaceutical companies who have been making investments in these therapeutic areas for years. We can’t compete at their level of marketing spend. But we have found what has resonated extremely well with our customer group is the fact that we are a growing and committed Canadian-based company, wanting to bring relevant products to market that meet their needs. A lot of times, this means we are willing to look at products that are too small for the larger firms to consider, but for us, we can aggregate multiple niche products and create a relevant portfolio pretty quickly. This results in us partnering with our customers on these very relevant products for specific patients, that otherwise would potentially be overlooked.

Claudia O’Neill: It’s great that Aequus has discovered an addressable market that’s often overlooked. With Aequus’ Q1 2018 financials showing a 28% revenue increase and 19% net loss decrease over the same period in 2017, what factors do you credit for this success?

Anne Stevens: The first quarter of 2018 was our 4th consecutive quarter of growth in revenues, and the 2nd consecutive quarter achieving profitability in commercial division. During the second half of 2017, we really focused our sales force and marketing spend in provinces where our products are covered on public formularies and therefore more accessible to patients. We’ve leveraged our position as a Canadian specialty pharmaceutical company looking to build a strong presence in the therapeutic areas we are in, and built relationships that support our continued growth.

Claudia O’Neill: Considering these development efforts in Q1 2018, where do you see Aequus one year from now? 

Anne Stevens: We have several very exciting development programs in our pipeline, which we will continue to advance in the next 12 months. Alongside those efforts, we will remain extremely focused on building our commercial revenues to support the growth of our development programs.

Claudia O’Neill: Anne, thank you so much for your time. Lastly, what advice can you give to women who are entering the corporate world?

Anne Stevens: If there is anyone in a room that is ready to pass judgement on you, whether it’s because of your gender or age, the only way to counter that effectively is by being prepared, knowledgeable and confident about what you do, and ready to answer any question they throw your way. Let the passion for what you do drive you. I have found once you earn their respect that way, it is there to stay.

Aequus Pharmaceuticals Snapshot (TSX-V:AQS)
2017 Revenue: $ 1,139,424
Shares I/O: 72.56M
Market Cap: $14.48M
52 Week High: $0.45
52 Week Low: $0.14

Forward-Looking Information
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