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

7/28/09Follow @xconomy

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when you treat patients in that category.

I don’t think they’ll ever do those trials, but I suspect that people will get treated in this setting.

X: So you think doctors will intuitively understand this, and that they’ll prescribe it off-label?

CH: I think so. Clearly, the scientific literature says that stimulating the immune system at an earlier stage of disease is going to be of significance. Obviously, that’s a huge number of patients. You have a lot of data these days about whether the surgery early on is the way to go. It’s hard to tell people, what’s the phrase, watchful waiting. Psychologically, that doesn’t work for a lot of people. If Medicare will reimburse this at some level, I can see a lot of people will want the therapy.

Chemotherapy doesn’t work very well for prostate cancer. Local radiation therapy is not as appealing to a lot of people.

X: Back to your earlier point. You think Mitch Gold might sell the company?

CH: It won’t be up to Mitch. It’s up to the shareholders.

X: By that, do you mean the board, or the shareholders in a larger sense?

CH: The board represents the shareholders. And I think Mitchell, for the right price, would sell the company. I think he would. Maybe people want to see some numbers from sales first. But the time to buy it is before it goes on the market. Then again, Dendreon will be cutting teeth for the industry on the manufacturing side. Nobody has done this kind of thing at large scale. By that, I mean taking out cells [from patients], incubating them, and re-infusing them.

X: Do you still own any Dendreon shares, or did you take the opportunity to sell them in the recent run-up?

CH: It’s fair to say that I still own a good number of Dendreon shares [smiles]. My wife and kids are Dendreon shareholders, and my grandkids are still Dendreon shareholders.

X: How do you feel about what’s happened at Dendreon when you look back at the scope of your career in biotech?

CH: It’s probably the one I’m most proud of. That was a lot of commitment for me, for a long period of time. I was involved in the technology, the development, and the financing of it when the financing was hard. It’s not to say that I didn’t make a large contribution to the others, but this is one where I had a lot more thumbprints on it.

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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.