Hanns-Christian Mahler: Strategic Leadership for Patients and the Planet

Hanns-Christian Mahler
Hanns-Christian Mahler

Leading the charge in the transformative landscape of healthcare, Hanns-Christian Mahler stands as a model of innovation, compassion, and strategic leadership. His professional journey spans over two decades, marked by a commitment to excellence and a relentless pursuit of advancing healthcare solutions. As an adjunct faculty member and lecturer at prestigious universities such as Frankfurt and Basel, he not only leads in practice but also contributes to the academic growth of future industry leaders.

At the core of Mahler’s leadership philosophy is a deep-seated dedication to sustainability and human-centric healthcare. As the CEO of ten23 health, he champions the cause of developing pharmaceutical solutions that not only cater to patients’ needs but also contribute positively to the well-being of people and the planet. His expertise spans a spectrum, including biotech and small molecule product development, regulatory affairs, and commercialization, aligning seamlessly with the evolving demands of the industry.

Mahler’s impact extends beyond the boardroom, reflected in his prolific contributions to the field. With a remarkable publication record of over 120 manuscripts and co-inventorship of more than 50 patents, he exemplifies the spirit of a lifelong learner and disruptor.

In our exclusive interview, Mahler shares valuable insights into his strategic vision, the significance of sustainability in pharmaceutical development, and his commitment to positive societal and environmental impact.

Tell us about your journey in the pharmaceutical industry. What inspired you to become a leader in this field?

Studying Pharmacy and doing my PhD, I noticed that some textbooks provided different responses to the same question, e.g. “solutions of which pH values can be injected.” This raised my curiosity, and I found out that both perspectives were only half correct – the answer was usually more complex and would be ‘it depends.’ Many apparent ‘truths’ in the textbooks were anecdotal and lacked primary data.

With the raised curiosity, I started my first job in pharmaceutical industry. My aspiration was (and remains) to learn and be curious, to challenge beliefs and explore areas of where innovation is possible.

During my first job, my father passed away – I was CMC project leader for an antibody at that time, which may eventually have helped him as therapy. His doctors “did not believe in novel biotech medicines”.

Since then, I was very determined to develop and commercialize medicines and advance innovation and biotechnology, in order to make a positive impact on patients’, providing cure, remedy and/or providing improved quality of life.

Could you share the vision and mission that drives the company forward in the pharmaceutical medicine space? What sets ten23 health apart in the industry, and how does the company contribute to positive impacts for people and the planet?

At ten23 health, our commitments are Patients, People, Planet. Our services span from developing, to manufacturing and testing of sterile medicines. Our customers can benefit from our team’s industrial and regulatory expertise and scientific excellence, as well as our agility and dedication. Our focus is the patient, always ensuring safety, providing innovations for treatment and improved convenience and compliance, an area where drug/device combination products (like the ones we can support to develop and manufacture) play a huge role.

“People” relates for example to ten23’s commitments related to fairness, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, our support for the LGTBQ+ community, our focus on sustainable work and physical and mental health. And “Planet” relates to our commitments towards sustainability in everything we do.

ten23 can uniquely support our customers in their development and commercialization of sterile medicines. And we want to lead in the way of “how” we operate, and with this, lead and disrupt traditional beliefs and concerns in the CDMO and Pharma sector.

In what ways has ten23 health been a pioneer in introducing innovative solutions to the pharmaceutical landscape?

We provide innovative solutions with our services: we can develop and manufacture highly complex formulations and sterile dosage forms, e.g. for subcutaneous use or intravitreal use. Such sterile medicines can provide a variety of challenges, related stability, manufacturability, usability as well as sustainability. Our team can anticipate these challenges, provide options and recommendations and drive mitigations. Our perspective is long-term, also with some our innovation programs – for example, we explore the use of AI for sustainable process designs in collaboration with an external partner or participate at the innovation and research of materials that can be used for pharmaceutical production, yet is not plastic based and single-use.

How do you stay updated on the latest trends and advancements in the pharmaceutical industry?

Our team and experts are strongly networked and connected with several experts in the field, both in industry and academy. We also believe that our team in some areas has and can contribute to the advancement of pharmaceutical industry, by pushing the boundaries of traditional beliefs.

How do you ensure that patient-centricity remains a core focus in the company’s endeavors?

The key question for any customer project is whether there is a risk for the patient, and/or how the patient may further benefit. We consider it our responsibility as a CDMO to consult the customers for the benefit of their patients – whilst many experienced Customers and Pharmas of course have these perspectives themselves, some customers may not readily have that perspective, rather than focusing on the active ingredient and pharmacology.

We are supporting various programs, where the patient or user is in the center: how to design the product (e.g., define the formulation, select primary packaging, select device and needle) to ensure the User can use this appropriately? How to dilute? Dose? Infuse?

What do you envision as the key trends or changes in the future of healthcare, and how is ten23 health positioned to adapt to these shifts?

Active ingredients and therapeutic modalities are diverse, ranging from small molecules, to peptides, to antibodies, now bispecific, other recombinant proteins to antibody-drug-conjugates (ADCs), to oligonucleotides like RNA, viral vector and cell and gene therapy.

Most of these medicines are sterile dosage forms (parenteral preparations), i.e. need to be injected or infused. ten23 can support the development of all these dosage forms.

What will be your advice for emerging leaders aspiring to make a positive impact in the healthcare sector?

Ask ‘why’ many times. Challenge the status quo. Keep a learning and growth mindset.