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of patients to give the FDA a big set of safety data, which the agency typically requires for treatments aimed at highly prevalent diseases, and it will need to follow them for at least a year, which the FDA wants because this is a chronic condition. All in all, the trial will take “a couple years,” to generate the kind of hard proof the FDA wants to see before it will clear a new Crohn’s drug for sale, Schall says.
While this compound could eventually be the first to really validate the ChemoCentryx approach, now is really when Schall sees his company’s story advancing to its next phase. GlaxoSmithKline stands to grab the bulk of the profits from the lead drug, but ChemoCentryx is on track to have seven different drugs in clinical trials from its own internal discovery efforts by the end of this year.
Building up that pipeline, with a team of just 75 employees, is an unusually high rate of R&D productivity. And this being the drug business, all of them could easily fail. But just getting them that far is something.
ChemoCentryx’s strategy over the next five years, Schall says, is to find a way to harness enough cash from that pipeline so it can become a more fully integrated company that discovers, develops, and—the last piece is especially important—sells and markets its own products.
If an IPO window opens up, Schall says he’ll be ready, but he’s not counting on it, and he doesn’t need the money because his company had a cash cushion of more than $100 million at end of the last quarter. Partners are essential if ChemoCentryx is going to market a drug for a common disease like Crohn’s around the world, but that doesn’t mean ChemoCentryx is necessarily destined to end up getting acquired, he says. Of course, that could just be good bargaining position to stake out with Big Pharma companies to coax them to write an even bigger check, but Schall flashes that boyish enthusiasm when he talks about building up his pipeline and someday holding onto 100 percent rights of one of its own drugs in North America.
“Our new five-year working plan is how do we parlay this enormously valuable set of assets, and how do we get to become a ChemoCentryx that makes and sells its own drugs, at least in some parts of the world?” Schall says. “Think North America for a moment. We can make some money from those assets, and use the profits to not only sustain, but expand the enterprise, and pass it on to the next generation. That’s where we’re going.”
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