Vaccine Impresario, Todd Patrick, At it Again With Immunization Against Strep Throat
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“It’s been brutal to raise money for companies that are losing money. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he says.
The reception from investors would surely be different this time, if they weren’t fixated on the downturn. “Todd is exactly the right guy to be able to do this,” says David Miller, president of Biotech Stock Research, an independent equity research firm in Seattle, and a former ID Biomedical shareholder. “This (strep throat vaccine) has a long regulatory road because of mistakes by others who developed similar drugs, but I think he knows exactly how to get it done.”
Besides vaccines, Patrick has gotten involved with a variety of other small healthcare companies. “There’s no real common theme” to the companies, he says.
—Response Biomedical. This Vancouver, BC-based company offers real-time diagnostic tests for a variety of infections, which doctors can run in their office. The stock has plummeted , down more than 80 percent this year, closing at 17 cents yesterday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. “Here’s a company that has done everything they said they were going to do, fulfilled the strategic plan, and no one cares. It’s tough,” he says. (This one especially hurts, since Patrick says he put in $700,000 of his own money.)
—Inviro Medical Devices. This Atlanta-based private company makes safety syringes, so that needles don’t transmit infections through accidental pinpricks. This company is on track to produce $2 million in sales in 2008, up from $1.2 million a year, ago, even though it has been cut from 18 to seven employees. “We’ve had to cut staff and expenses to get to cash flow positive as soon as possible,” Patrick says.
—CRH. This Vancouver, BC-based company makes a disposable, pain-free device for removing hemorrhoids. It’s an appealing alternative to surgery, which apparently can be painful, Patrick says, although neither of us really want to know. This company has had an aggressive growth strategy, to build up 17 retail health clinics around the country, advertising its service directly to patients. “It’s like the Lasik eye surgery model,” Patrick says. It has 50 employees and is growing fast, although if it puts the brakes on growth, it would still take until the third quarter of 2009 to turn profitable, he says.
These days, Patrick is also involved with a pair of nonprofits, the sort of thing he was too busy for during his corporate days. One is the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, where he serves as vice chairman of the board, and is working to help find partners to help develop its experimental malaria vaccine. The other is the Bellevue Boys and Girls Club. “I want to be able to give something back,” he says.
He’s also finding time to golf, go fly fishing, ski, and go duck hunting. I asked if he’d ever consider coming back to run a company, and he left the door open to the idea, but said he’d want to make sure it’s the right opportunity. “I’d think about it,” he says. “I’m not that good a golfer.”