Top Five Biotech Innovations of the 2000s

12/31/09

My list is brief, but the innovations that stood out for me in the past decade were first-in-class drugs that can treat or prevent major unmet medical needs.

1. Genentech’s ranibizumab (Lucentis)—The first treatment of its kind for the “wet” form of macular degeneration. It has high efficacy rates and low side effects, has saved vision for people with this common disease.

2. Novartis’ imatinib (Gleevec)—An effective and safe treatment for various leukemia syndromes, saving countless lives. It set off massive searches in the industry for kinase inhibitors like it.

3. Merck’s sitagliptin (Januvia)—The first-in-class DPP4 inhibitor for diabetes. It may be the last new mechanism for diabetes for a while.

4. Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals’ (erlotinib) Tarceva—An effective non-chemo approach to solid tumors.

5. Merck’s human papillomavirus vaccine (Gardasil)—The first vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer caused by HPV.

[Editor's Note: As the decade comes to an end, we've asked Xconomists and other technology leaders around the country to identify the top innovations they've seen in their fields the past 10 years, or predict the top disruptive technologies that will impact the next decade.]

Jay Lichter is a managing member of Avalon Ventures in San Diego. Follow @

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