With a degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering, Aaron Pereira already had his eye on intellectual property (IP) by the time he got to law school.
“I didn’t necessarily know that I was going to end up in IP, but I had a good sense that it would be a fit in terms of both my technical background and what I wanted to accomplish in my career,” Pereira says. “My goal has always been to marry the science and the law and, more importantly, to leverage the two to enrich people’s lives.”
That is exactly what Pereira is doing in his current role as senior director of patents at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company that shares his mission. Together with his colleagues, he aims to position Ferring for the future by leveraging new and existing IP assets, all while keeping patient well-being front of mind.
After specializing in IP in law school, Pereira jumped into patent prosecution as soon as he entered private practice. He gained experience drafting and filing patents before ultimately gravitating toward the litigation side of IP law—an area he explored from within both smaller firms and prestigious IP groups.
“I was the day-to-day lead on all types of IP litigation, from some of the largest pharmaceutical products to household items. I’ve litigated everything from insulins and DNA sequencers all the way down to dog toys and tennis rackets,” Pereira elaborates. “All of those cases give you great war stories, but more importantly, they give you a deep understanding of how each sub-slice of the economy works.”
Pereira brought that understanding with him when he moved in-house at Ferring in June 2022. He also carried with him an expertise in due diligence that has lent itself well to his new role. “Due diligence is an absolutely critical portion of the overall business case,” he says. “Especially in the life sciences world, you’re always thinking about where you fall in the competitive landscape and how you can strengthen your portfolio—either by in-licensing or by out-licensing and creating a revenue stream that you can then use for something else.”
Beyond meshing with his existing knowledge, the shift in-house has brought Pereira closer to the innovation that sits at the heart of all IP. “For me personally, it was about getting to guide that innovation from the benchtop in the lab to the actual marketplace,” he says. “And that’s a long, long timeline. It’s very rare as outside counsel to be involved through the full timeline of commercialization.”
By contrast, Pereira spends a significant portion of his time at Ferring trying to envision what the market will look like years down the line. “In addition to our core assets, we have a lot of drug candidates in varying stages of development. Some of those are on my plate, and it’s been a really fascinating yet challenging experience, because we’re looking at drugs that could potentially come to market twelve or fifteen years from now,” he explains.
Pereira balances long-term strategic planning with making the most of Ferring’s current IP assets. His team negotiates in- and out-licensing deals and supports IP litigation matters, all while facilitating breakthroughs by the company’s team of top-notch innovators. “Ferring is a midsize pharmaceutical company on the innovator side, so there are always really interesting things going on here,” he says. “We recently launched the world’s first FDA-approved microbiome product. That was a very big victory for the company, and it was a tremendous project to be involved in.”
Pereira cites the additional recent approval of a gene therapy product, as well as the company’s interest in expanding into new medical indications and therapeutics, as further examples of Ferring’s potential to change the game in biopharma.
As he assists in securing the company’s position in its highly regulated industry, Pereira holds a deepening appreciation for the legal function’s relationship to the business at large. “The most important thing is to maintain context,” he emphasizes. “When you’re in-house, there are so many layers to what you’re doing that if you don’t keep things in context, it’s easy for them to get overwhelming or for you to lose sight of the big picture.”
For Pereira, the big picture does and will always come back to patients. “You have to keep your eye on the ball. We want patients to have better outcomes and better lives,” he says. “There is a great vision for the future at Ferring, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”