Alnylam CEO John Maraganore On Corporate Near-Termism, and Restoring Faith in RNAi

12/6/10Follow @xconomy

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after the rather large upfront payment [$330 million] we received in 2007, and some small additional costs. There’s no impact whatsoever. I’d argue that it creates opportunities for us.

X: So you now have to think about how to rebuild value at Alnylam. How do you do that?

JM: Clinical data. It’s the only way that matters. It’s frankly the thing that’s most important to the company for the past 12-18 months. We’ve been saying it, and saying it, and saying it. But I think it’s going to become more evident to our investors and the outside world when they see the steady drumbeat of clinical data. We believe people will see it in the months and years to come, and it will be the absolute critical determinant of value creation for this company and the whole field. We couldn’t be more confident about our prospects for generating that kind of data.

Now, not everything is going to work, as you know. But a lot of it is. As a lot of the clinical data starts to emerge, it will be like Groundhog Day all over again, back in the 1990s, when you started to see monoclonal antibodies take off. That’s what we’re going to create if we’re successful.

X: What about business development? Has Big Pharma lost its appetite? Or can you get out there and find some new partners?

JM: Takeda is still very involved in this field. Novartis is still very involved in this field. Merck is still very involved. We know Pfizer has an effort. We think there will still be opportunities for future partnerships. Whether it’s a platform, or pipeline, or deals like the one we did with Regulus Therapeutics or the biotherapeutics things we are pioneering now, there will be lots of deals. We’re not worried about deals getting done in the future. We are more focused on advancing the clinical pipeline.

X: So what is the deal with Wall Street? What are these guys telling you? Have they gotten bored waiting around for your clinical data?

JM: We have great investors who are really committed to where we are going with this company. Obviously, you look at the market reaction and some investors—-not any of our major investors, but some—have become skittish about this news, or misinterpreted the news. We wish them well, and we’ll welcome them back when they are ready to come back. Obviously, we need to work on our fundamental technology to advance our pipeline.

It’s an amazing opportunity for new investors to come in, given the space we’re in, and the position we’re in as a company, having made major delivery breakthroughs that now enable us to take programs into the clinic. This couldn’t be a better time.

X: Do you need to make any further cuts?

JM: No, absolutely not. The cuts we made following the Novartis deal are different. Novartis … Next Page »

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  • Geek

    RNAi stock have been sold down mercilessly since the decision by Roche. Alnylam may be a bargain but look at Australia’s Benitec BLT (ASX). It has very valuable IP, possibly more so than Alnylam, and is trading at a market cap of $AUD12 million. These stocks are being manipulated so that big pharma can take them over for a pittance, and nothing is ever done to stop them. People are leaving in droves because they can’t compete with the big boys who have enough money and time to drive the prices down to such ridiculous levels that the small players just give up. It’s a joke.

  • Wes

    History about to repeat itself? When Benitec/CSIRO first got the Graham patent allowed (but not formally awarded) the sp went from 2c to 30c, and sat there for about 6 months. Then the offical certificate came out and it went to $1.30. Months later Nucleonics successfully got a re-exam started, which undermined the sp for the next 6 years down to it’s current 2.5c.

    Have a look at the 10 year chart for BLT at asx.com.au and compare against dates of BLT news releases at benitec.com.au.

    Benitec need to work clear of some dilutionary funding before sp can move, but once they achieve this traction will likely return