On the surface, increased life expectancies and lower mortality rates from many diseases might suggest that big pharma is doing its job effectively. However, it doesn’t take going more than a few layers deep into an industry tasked with both improving the quality of life and saving lives to uncover that big pharma’s reputation for deceptive marketing, monopolizing patents, price gauging, its role in the opioid crisis, and its fair share of scandals precedes it.
After spending decades in an industry aimed at prevention, Mr. Edalat even questioned naming his company Vivera, “Vivera Pharmaceuticals” due to the negative connotation oftentimes associated with the word “pharmaceuticals.” Not one to shy away from a challenge, Mr. Edalat is bringing a different code of ethics and a Benjamin Franklin saying commonly used during his time in the fitness and nutrition industry, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” with him to the pharmaceutical industry and Vivera Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Edalat is a visionary industry disruptor driven by his desire to transform the pharmaceutical industry to better serve patients and consumers. Being the Chairman, Founder, and CEO, Mr. Edalat is new to the industry, and his mission is to challenge the industry to prioritize patients over profit.
Most recently, Paul was vetted and selected as a member of the Forbes Council by a review committee based on the depth and diversity of his professional background in leadership, management, and growth.
Vivera Pharmaceuticals is an innovative, science-driven pharmaceutical company located in Southern California. The Company has global exclusivity to license the patented and patent-pending TABMELT sublingual drug delivery system for pharmaceutical use and holds its own issued patents on ZICOH, a smart, dose-controlled electronic medical device, and MDZone, a portable telemedicine station. With multiple divisions, including its technologies, biosciences, medical devices, and advanced diagnostics divisions, Vivera Pharmaceuticals is vertically integrated with patented technology, manufacturing capabilities, and distribution for its products.
The Company has made it its mission to support the needs of underserved communities and find new and innovative ways to assist patients and medical providers. From the opioid crisis to mental health and beyond, Vivera strives to fulfill its purpose and promise toward patient-centric research and development that puts the total health of the patient front and center.
In his own words, Mr. Edalat tells his story of entrepreneurship, loss, healing, and being a part of the solution.
Journey as a Business Leader
Before I ventured into entrepreneurship, I was an athlete. I played tennis throughout high school and was offered a scholarship to San Diego State. After deciding that professional tennis wasn’t the right path for me, I enrolled in a local community college to explore other career options.
One day, I picked up an issue of Muscle and Fitness magazine. It inspired me to start weightlifting, and it wasn’t long before bodybuilding became my new passion. Within a few years of strength training, I was recognized by Weider Global Nutrition and offered a sponsorship.
As a bodybuilder, I naturally grew interested in fitness and nutrition. When bodybuilder, entrepreneur, and founder of Weider Global Nutrition Joe Weider offered to be my mentor, I jumped at the opportunity.
With Weider’s guidance, I spent over 25 years in the health and fitness industry, developing over 300 nutritional supplements and over a dozen brands. During that time, I partnered with more than 135 athletes globally, including Tito Ortiz, Terrell Owens, Troy Tulowitzki, Tony Gonzalez, and Chuck Liddell, to name a few. I also secured deals with nearly every professional sports organization, including the MLB, NFL, MMA, and NBA.
A New Beginning
In early 2000, I developed one of the first sublingual vitamin B tablets utilizing the patented TABMELT delivery system, which enabled people to take a supplement by dissolving it under the tongue. This innovation was especially helpful to people who had trouble swallowing pills.
A few years later, I decided to bring my sublingual drug delivery system to the medical and pharmaceutical industries. I noticed that most drug companies focus more on the drug itself rather than how the drug is delivered to the patient.
With the right prescription medications, sublingual drug delivery can be incredibly advantageous. In addition to making them more accessible to patients with swallowing challenges, sublingual drug delivery also allows the drug to bypass the gastrointestinal tract, which can potentially enable faster absorption, smaller, dosing, and, in some cases, result in fewer side effects for the patient.
A Devastating Setback
Around this time, my younger brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, during which I learned a lot about our broken healthcare system. What pained me the most was how carelessly physicians prescribed opioids to my brother to help manage his pain.
They didn’t inform him of the potential dangers these medications can have on a person. Sadly, he ended up developing an addiction. At this stage, he was not only battling cancer, but he was also battling addiction. For years, my brother struggled until he finally lost his life to cancer.
Enhancing and Improving the Healthcare System
In 2016, disheartened by the loss of my brother and his addiction that could have been prevented, I sat down to meet with my dear friend and one of the most intelligent people I know, Dr. Mehdi Hatamian to discuss how opioid medications are prescribed and given to patients. Today, physicians give the patient a written prescription to take to their pharmacy. The pharmacist fills the prescription and gives the medication to the patient in an orange pill bottle.
Nothing prevents the patient from taking more pills than prescribed, giving them to friends and family, or selling them on the street.
With this realization, ZICOH was born. ZICOH is a patented smart drug delivery solution for prescription medications. It’s programmed to deliver preset dosages to the registered patient according to the provider’s orders. ZICOH continuously logs medication delivery history, so healthcare providers can monitor how well patients adhere to their prescribed medication regimen.
With a vision to improve drug delivery and TABMELT and ZICOH in the works, I co-founded Vivera Pharmaceuticals in 2018. Entering an Unwelcoming World Entering the medical and pharmaceutical industries has not been easy. Like many, they do not like change. There has yet to be a significant advancement in this sector since the insulin pump, and companies are comfortable with how things are. But one lesson I have learned through my experiences with entrepreneurship is that comfort doesn’t bring change.
With this understanding in mind, Vivera is accepting the challenge to create change for the better of the patient’s health and well-being.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve experienced in my transition to pharmaceuticals is that I am from a different industry. I come from an industry developed to prevent sickness and promote optimal health and performance.
The pharmaceutical industry is often on the other end of the spectrum, profiting off people who are sick. It’s time to put the patients first.
My Vision for Vivera
I have the vision to improve the way patients take medications, both by making medications easier to take and safer to use. Patients deserve top-quality care, and we have a responsibility to make that care accessible.
By focusing on drug delivery, we can improve patient experiences and potentially improve outcomes. My long-term mission is to work with providers to get TABMELT and ZICOH in the hands of every patient who needs them. I have seen first-hand how difficult taking medications can be for patients who are sick. I have seen first-hand how easy it is to become addicted to prescriptions as well. All of us have seen the effects of addiction in our families, friends, and communities.
ZICOH can prevent addictive drugs from getting into the wrong hands and ensure patients do not suffer the harms of addiction while at their most vulnerable.
Advice to Future Entrepreneurs
My advice to future entrepreneurs is to find a good mentor who can show them how businesses operate in the real world and teach them the ins and out of the industry. The opportunity to learn from not only their successes but also their mistakes is invaluable.
I was fortunate to have Weider as one of my mentors. I’ve been able to apply much of what he taught me to every industry I’ve entered. But equally importantly, remember that most industries don’t like change. If you believe that your product or service will improve lives, don’t listen to those who don’t believe in you. Find people who understand your vision, and never quit. Lives might be depending on you.