Dendreon May Not Survive Its Success: Q&A with Founder Chris Henney, Part 2

7/28/09Follow @xconomy

(Page 2 of 3)

is inextricably linked with biotech. But I do enjoy nothing more than startups, early-stage companies. I’m not so good with companies that I liken to being like a box with a ribbon around it. Where you make sure the ribbon doesn’t come off the box. That’s never too interesting.

X: Is that like saying you’re an entrepreneur, not a manager?

CH: I like to think I can motivate people as a manager, but I’m more of an entrepreneur than a classical operating guy.

X: But when I think of your big three companies, it’s really Immunex, Icos, and Dendreon…

CH: They are the three biggest ones ever to come from Seattle, right?

X: Right.

CH: I only worked in three companies, and they became the three biggest companies in Seattle. They were all multi-billion dollar companies. So that worked out OK.

X: How do you think Provenge stacks up with what you’ve done in the past? Enbrel obviously is a $7 billion a year worldwide drug, the third-biggest seller in the world right now. Icos created a billion dollar drug. What kind of impact can Provenge make?

CH: I see numbers that other people are putting up, projecting, and they are pretty important numbers. Obviously, it needs to be reimburseable. If it’s not reimburseable, that will be a severe limitation. It’s going to be expensive. The good news is that you only need the treatment once.

X: Yeah, but with three infusions in a month.

CH: Yes, but it’s one course of therapy. It’s totally benign. Not many guys, when facing the alternatives, wouldn’t want that. I suspect that a large amount of use will be in very early stages of disease. Theoretically, that’s where it should work best. Just post-surgery.

The problem is with the way we develop drugs. It takes too long, and costs too much, to do a trial in that population. You have to test it in patients who are far more advanced. Because their life expectancy is shorter, the trials can be done quicker. The dice are stacked against you … Next Page »

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  • Gloria Johnson

    Thanks Luke for the excellent interview of Chris Henney and for your continued education of the public on the Dendreon story. It will be interesting to see what unfolds for Dendreon in the coming year: FDA approval of Provenge, ROW partnership, possible sale of the company. I look forward to your continued coverage.

  • Gary Glass

    Dendreon is truly a success story and an excellent investment for me and many others who believed in the science behind Provenge.