Improving drug tolerability is the cornerstone of our research strategy

Giiant Pharma inc. is a Montreal-based company founded by former Merck Frosst scientists Dr. Elizabeth Kwong and Dr. Bernard Côté. Strong from more than 20 years of experience in the field of industrial pharmaceutical research, we have put together a discovery platform where improving drug tolerability is the cornerstone of our strategy.

Treatment-associated side effects such as nausea, dry mouth, headache, diarrhea/constipation or mood change have a significant impact on quality of life and treatment adherence. In the context of a life-long medical condition such as IBD, addressing these potential issues becomes even more critical.

Why delivering a drug to your brain, heart, liver, skin, muscle and others when only a segment of your intestine is affected? Is it possible to benefit from an anti-inflammatory treatment without suffering the strong immunosuppression from prednisone, azathioprine or injectable biologics? At Giiant Pharma we believe that this is possible with a technology that confines the drug to the sick organ.

-Primum Non Nocere-

"First, Do No Harm"

Quality of life should get as much attention as disease management

The Unconscious Patient (Sense of Smell) – around 1624-25, Rembrandt van Rijn.

Originally labelled as the work of an unknown artist of the 19th century from Europe’s Continental School, this painting went to auction at a presale estimate of $500-$800 US. But someone in the audience, the French art dealer Bertrand Gautier, knew exactly who had painted the small oil-on-panel: Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn. Unfortunately for Gautier and his partner Bertrand Talabardon, another dealer had the same hunch. In a few minutes of phone bidding, the price shot up, and in the end the Paris gallery owners paid just over $1 million US.

It was painted when Rembrandt was just 18 or 19, at the start of his career,  more or less the first picture he ever painted. It is part of Rembrandt’s series depicting the five senses. Three of the “sense” paintings were already known, and with the rediscovery of the sense of smell, only “taste” is missing.

The picture shows a woman holding a handkerchief, presumably containing smelling salts, under the nose of a young man who has fainted after a surgeon has performed a blood-letting. This was one of the most commun medical practice performed by surgeons from antiquity until the late 19th century. Although sometimes beneficial in temporarily reducing blood pressure, it was mostly harmful to patients as pictured by Rembrandt. 

Management Team

Bernard Côté, PhD

Founder, chief operating officer

Dr. Côté is the Co-founder and chief operating officer at Giiant Pharma. Trained organic chemist with more than 25 years of experience in research and drug discovery, Bernard has spent 14 years at Merck Frosst as a medicinal chemist and project team leader.

Dr. Côté has directed and coordinated multidisciplinary efforts from chemistry, biology, DMPK, PR&D and safety where he successfully brought forward clinical candidates including the HIV NNRTI doravirine (Pifeltro®).

Bernard received his BSc in chemistry from Université Laval and his PhD from Université de Montréal working in the lab of Prof. André Charette. He conducted his postdoctoral studies at Harvard University under the supervision of Prof. David Evans.

Elizabeth Kwong, PhD

founder, chief development officer

Dr. Kwong is the co-founder and chief development officer at Giiant Pharma. Elizabeth has been part of several functional groups within Merck & Co including Rahway (NJ), Boston (MA), West Point (PA) and Montreal where she retired as the Merck Frosst Senior Scientific Director of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPS) after 23 years of service.

During her career, Elizabeth, who specialize in drug product formulation, has supported over 100 pre-clinical candidates and several late-stage candidates including: Singulair®, Vioxx®, Arcoxia®, Laropiprant™, Belsomra® and odanacatib.

Dr. Elizabeth Kwong received her BSc Pharmacy and PhD degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from University of British Columbia. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Pharmaceutics at the School of Pharmacy, University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Kwong is also adjunct professor in the Dept of Pharmaceutics at the University of Montreal and Dept of Chemistry at Concordia University.