Summary by Chris Anderson, MBA Candidate 2022
Over the last seven weeks of the Fall 2021, the Master’s in Business Administration and Master’s in Health Administration students collaborated on a project for the Business of Life Sciences: Value Chain course. Teams consisted of six to seven members – two MBAs and the rest being either MHAs or Master’s students from the College of Arts and Sciences – where each team was tasked with providing a strategic recommendation for OpalGenix.
OpalGenix is a healthcare technology startup based in Indianapolis led by licensed anesthesiologist and preoperative genomics researcher Senthil Sadhasivam, and highly experienced MedTech business executive Steve Plump. Together, they have over 15 years of preoperative opioid preoperative treatment clinical research and 40 years of MedTech and startup experience. OpalGenix has created a clinical decision support system algorithm called GPS-Opioid, an opioid risk prediction and decision support tool that aims to guide clinicians to personalize opioid selection, dosing, and prescribing, while maximizing pain relief. Its precision to predict patient risk factors from potential opioid prescriptions post-surgery offers a unique combination of minimizing opioid-related risks while maximizing surgical pain relief, reducing the annual cost of the opioid epidemic in the United States.
Teams were asked to provide OpalGenix with an optimal clinical path to pursue, considering the timing of the regulatory process, patent approval, and financial barriers in place, particularly in the pediatric tonsillectomy market. Not only so, but teams were encouraged to create a competitive analysis, provide a net value proposition to stakeholders, and develop a timeline to commercialize the product that was both reasonable and timely. The demand space for this market is very high, as the opioid epidemic costs the United States $180 billion each year, and there isn’t a clinical decision support system that is as comprehensive and precise as the one that OpalGenix has provided. With just seven weeks to present a deliverable that would underscore the strategic benefits/risks of their recommendations, construct robust financial analysis of the options, and firmly address the needs of consumers within this market, each team promptly began investigating the case by getting to work.
Soon after the project launch, my team of six quickly arose to a recommendation and quickly began working on the strategic summary to substantiate our position. We were confident that not only our decision would be most simple to execute, but also provide OpalGenix with a conservative but timely plan to reach the market with the highest return on investment. Nevertheless, we were faced with challenges in other areas. For instance, the team had little experience with constructing a convincing financial analysis, as none of us were finance majors or had a background in this area, even the MBAs. We also were unaware of many of the regulatory processes involved in getting FDA approval, working through clinical trials and patents, and commercializing a clinical product to market. However, we conducted as much research and investigation as we could to, ultimately learning that every successful team asks for help and tackles problems with determination and grit even when they are unsure how to initially solve them.
The presentation included 20 minutes of delivering our final recommendation to the OpalGenix team and three guest judges, as well as a 5-minute Q&A session to deeply investigate a few sections that solicited clarification or further elaboration. Our team felt very confident that we supplied ample amounts of information to defend our recommendation, and the judges provided us with a nice combination of positive and constructive feedback.
“We greatly appreciate the interaction with IU students. The insight from a talented group of individuals both confirmed and challenged our strategy.”
All in all, our team learned how challenging it is for companies to make strategic recommendations pushing for growth with imperfect information. This is what makes competition such an exciting aspect of business, but there are many risks that come into play and are critical factors when making these decisions. We also were able to learn more about how complicated the regulatory process can be for new products and technologies waiting to hit the market. Nevertheless, my team is excited for the day that OpalGenix’s GPS-Opioid will be a tool that hospital clinicians can use to assess opioid prescription decisions that will not only minimize the post-surgical pain of patients, but also protect them from the adverse risk factors and side effects that contribute to a widespread epidemic in the United States. We were privileged to learn more about this great company and look forward to seeing how our recommendations will contribute to their eventually launch!
About the Kelley Life Sciences Courses:
As a Graduate or Undergraduate in the Certificate in the Business of Life Sciences program, students gain hands-on experience with life sciences companies and organizations while working with fellow students in interdisciplinary teams solving real problems.
Guest speakers are a vital component of classroom learning. We bring in a range of successful leaders in the life sciences industry. The courses feature a variety of guest speakers, most of whom are successful leaders in the life sciences industry in addition to a semester long project from either a life sciences start-up or established company.