Robby McGarry – Kindeva Drug Delivery
Patients never like it when a trusted medical product is replaced by something different, but that’s about to happen to many inhalers on the market. Kindeva Drug Delivery, a leading manufacturer of pressurized metered dose inhalers, is preparing to phase out inhalers that rely on HFA-based propellants.
Patients aren’t the only ones seeing changes; Kindeva’s workforce is going through a transition, too. On Dec. 12, 2022, Kindeva merged with Meridian Medical Technologies, which manufactures EpiPen, an autoinjector to treat allergic reactions, for Viatris.
As the companies integrate, Robby McGarry, Kindeva’s former general counsel and now chief of business operations and strategy, is helping ensure that Meridian transitions away from its dependence on a small number of products which are disappearing from the market. He’s building its capacity to produce sterile fill finish products, laying the groundwork for a new manufacturing site in the St. Louis area.
“We’re looking to fill our new Bridgeton site to capacity and further grow as that location comes online in 2024,” McGarry says. “We’re trying to build for the future, with additional jobs, additional capacity and additional revenue coming from our new site. And then transform Meridian’s sterile manufacturing pipeline to something that’s quite a bit more diversified.”
From his current vantage—a job he loves in an industry where he can help people—McGarry is excited about the future. He gets to own Kindeva’s success and resolve its issues. And now, after a major merger, he gets to do that on an even larger scale.
“A merger in my view is yet another compelling opportunity to do impactful work,” McGarry says. “It’s another challenge to meet.”
Joining forces on branding
McGarry and his colleagues were still integrating Meridian with Kindeva when he spoke to Vanguard in March. He sits on the integration steering committee along with Kindeva’s CEO and CFO, a member of Altaris Capital Partners (Kindeva’s owner) and a member of the Kindeva board.
One benefit of the merger, in McGarry’s view, is the scale it will provide in the contract development and manufacturing organization sphere. A CDMO is a drug development company that caters to other pharmaceutical companies on a contract basis, developing and commercially manufacturing products.
“We very much have complementary capabilities, technology and people that make the sum of our two parts greater than what they would be separate,” McGarry says. “And our merger provides an amplified platform for our customers to utilize our services in new ways as well at greater scale and impact than what we could do on our own.”
For example, McGarry and his team have been marketing the businesses, consolidating their branding and trying to reinforce the different business pipelines that each specializes in. In addition to making autoinjectors, Meridian manufactures other sterile fill finish products, including health security products for governments, such as antidotes for nerve agent poisonings. Kindeva is one of the world’s top third-party manufacturers of inhalers.
“We’re really focusing our business development teams on how we can go to market with a unified story, reinforcing one another,” McGarry says. “Meridian colleagues may be talking to different parts of a customer organization, and now can help to cross-sell some of the other services and platforms that we have from the Kindeva side, and vice versa.”
Addressing environmental impact
But McGarry and his colleagues are not just concerned about scale. They’re also concerned about the environment, which is why McGarry has been helping to convert inhalers to new, lower-GWP (Global Warming Potential) propellants.
The lower-ozone-depleting alternatives that Kindeva is working on are replacing legacy propellants, which are set to be phased out by the end of this decade, thanks to EPA regulations in the U.S. and similar rules in Europe.
It was McGarry’s previous employer, 3M, that helped usher in the transition from CFC-based propellants to HFA-based propellants, which are more environmentally friendly, in the 1990s and early 2000s. Now Kindeva is leading the next wave of transition, working with two lower-GWP alternative propellants: 152a and 1234ze.
“Most broad-based legislation, while not directly targeting inhalers, is resulting in a phase down of those legacy propellants, which just means there’s an immense amount of development work underway to reformulate existing inhalers to work with one of those new alternative propellants,” McGarry says. “And some people might think it should be simple: You’re taking one compressed gas and swapping it for another, and therefore you should just take the same amount as what you had before, change it to the new propellant, and away you go.”
That’s not how it works, however. Inhalers pack a lot of complexity into a small handheld device; if you change one component, you may have to change the drug content or the type of valve that’s used to disperse the drug into one’s lungs. In other words, one little change can have a domino effect.
So by helping the Kindeva business navigate increasingly complex global environmental regulations, striking new partnerships with alternative propellant suppliers and negotiating new development arrangements with pharmaceutical partners, McGarry is helping to treat asthma sufferers and to protect the ozone from further erosion. And knowing that he’s contributing in this way is what makes the work so fulfilling.
From cultural studies to law
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he double majored in political science and sociology and played college football, then earned his Master of Liberal Studies in political science, sociology and cultural studies, McGarry received his J.D. from the University of Utah in 2009.
He had some early exposure to working with regulatory fine print as a graduate assistant in the University of Utah Office of Athletics Compliance. He also worked as a student-certified attorney in a Minnesota public defender’s office.
After graduation, McGarry joined the Minneapolis law firm Dorsey & Whitney as an associate attorney. While working there, he spent one summer with the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office as a special assistant city attorney in the criminal division.
For McGarry, opportunity knocked in 2016 via a chance to go in-house at 3M. That led to his current role at Kindeva, which Altaris Capital bought in 2020. Now in the catbird seat, McGarry credits great mentoring over the course of his life with shaping him to become a business leader. And those lessons will come in handy in McGarry’s new role.
“It’s something that I reflect on almost daily,” he says. “I am extremely grateful for all the professional mentoring I’ve received from the people I’ve worked with at Dorsey, people I continue to have connections with at 3M and those who’ve helped build Kindeva as a new standalone company. And in athletics, I’ve benefited from coaches, teammates and staff who have been generous mentors and have set good examples. I try to absorb a lesson from each effective leader I observe.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer I 2023 Edition here.
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