Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Division of Pfizer Inc.
Latest From Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Using technology spun out of UCSF, a new company hopes to develop oncology drugs that target effector mechanisms of protein synthesis, thereby affecting multiple oncogenes simultaneously. The San Diego-based biotech also hopes to license out its platform for non-cancer indications, bringing in non-dilutive money.
MedPointe was born via the leveraged buy-out of an old, private pharmaceutical company, Carter-Wallace. Accepting financial strictures was part of the deal; the company must remain profitable. This increases the challenge for the "founders," seasoned pharma execs intent on leveraging the infrastructure they overhauled, to created an in-licensing based marketing powerhouse. Beyond competing with bigger pharma marketers, management's challenge remains bringing in new assets affordably.
Microbial drug resistance is a real and growing problem, but drugmakers face disincentives: a plethora of products already on the market, the difficulty of differentiating drugs, and the habit of reserving truly new drugs for emergencies. Big Pharmas are backing out, creating opportunities for small companies who feel they can play successfully. But lack of interest from large partners means biotechs can't access the assets those firms hold, so many start-ups are pairing up with peers. Some firms are building businesses around an abundance of targets derived through genomics. But others are deliberately avoiding working with novel genetic code and instead studying whole cells and physiological changes in organisms. Many firms are addressing the lack of chemical diversity against targets. Some of these are pursuing diversity through natural products like marine microbes, insisting they'll fare better than earlier firms did, in part because of technological advances. Others are trying to create diversity synthetically, by taking structural approaches to understanding targets new and old, as well as compounds. Crystallography, in silico libraries, computational models and mass spectroscopy are key tools in iterative development processes that remain unproven in the anti-infectives field. Some firms are seeking to minimize the risks of novelty, by putting their efforts into developing new versions of antibiotics that worked well before resistance grew. No matter what technological approach start-ups take to developing antibiotics, all face similar challenges external to themselves-primarily in regulatory affairs and funding, but also in hunting Big Pharma partnerships.
Unlike many biotechs, Vertex has consistently cast itself as a product-focused company. To get there, Vertex built a remarkably productive discovery engine that has generated an impressive development pipeline. But to date, the company has produced only one commercial product, an HIV therapy marketed by GSK. That relatively slow path to commercialization is in large part attributable to the company's reliance on its internal R&D to produce drugs. By eschewing the in-licensing path that other biotechs have taken to jumpstart their commercial development, and partnering away commercial rights to a number of its later-stage compounds, the company has left some doubting its commitment to marketing its own drugs. But Vertex is now laying the foundation for creating a full-fledged commercial capability. And if the company can stay on track as it tackles the challenges of integrating a commercial operation into its organization, it may prove the skeptics wrong and accomplish something that perhaps no other biotech has: create a fully integrated pharmaceutical firm on the back of its own R&D.
- Therapeutic Areas
- Infectious & Viral Diseases
- North America
- Parent & Subsidiaries
- Pfizer Inc.
- Senior Management
Peter Johnson, Pres. & CEO
Steven S Cowell, Corp. VP, CFO
William C Denby, VP, Head of Mktg. & Sales
Michael D Varney, PhD, VP, Head of Res.
Barry D Quart, MD, Pres., R&D
- Contact Info
Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Phone: (619) 622-3000
10350 N. Torrey Pines Rd., Ste. 100
La Jolla, CA 92037-1020