About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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July 19, 2013

Good Advice: Get Lost!

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Posted by Derek

I thought everyone could use something inspirational after the sorts of stories that have been in the news the last few days. Here's a piece at FierceBiotech on Regeneron, a company that's actually doing very well and expanding. And how have they done it?

Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard "Len" Schleifer, who founded the company in 1988, says he takes pride in the fact that his team is known for doing "zero" acquisitions. All 11 drugs in the company's clinical-stage pipeline stem from in-house discoveries. He prefers a science-first approach to running a biotech company, hiring Yancopoulos to run R&D in 1989, and he endorsed a 2012 pay package for the chief scientist that was more than twice the size of his own compensation last year.

Scientists run Regeneron. Like Yancopoulos, Schleifer is an Ivy League academic scientist turned biotech executive. Regeneron gained early scientific credibility with a 1990 paper in the journal Science on cloning neurotrophin factor, a research area that was part of a partnership with industry giant Amgen. Schleifer has recruited three Nobel Prize-winning scientists to the board of directors, which is led by long-time company Chairman Dr. P. Roy Vagelos, who had a hand in discovering the first statin and delivering a breakthrough treatment for a parasitic cause of blindness to patients in Africa.

"I remember these people from Pfizer used to go around telling us, 'You know, blockbusters aren't discovered, they're made,' as though commercial people made the blockbuster," Schleifer said in an interview. "Well, get lost. Science, science, science--that's what this business is about."

I don't know about you, but that cheers me up. That kind of attitude always does!

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets | Drug Development | Drug Industry History


1. anonymous on July 19, 2013 7:30 AM writes...

Len Schleifer, you are my hero! It's one thing for a scientist to make that statement, quite another for the CEO to do so. How refreshing.

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2. See Arr Oh on July 19, 2013 7:44 AM writes...

Must have been the hot story yesterday!

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3. isodope on July 19, 2013 8:32 AM writes...

OMG! Refreshing? cheering? Thank goodness our CEO now has a working model for a science - based company. Maybe it's not too late to call back all our neuroscientists and quit with the zit cream already. It was the nobel-laden BOD that really perked me up as I was reading this wondering when the stockholders would ruin this company with demands for a "safe" investment.

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4. Nick K on July 19, 2013 9:18 AM writes...

Pfizer used to be a science-based company once, before the marketeers and money men took over...

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5. Hap on July 19, 2013 9:43 AM writes...

It's good that this has worked for Regeneron, and that they're willing to stand up for us, but how many companies have followed this model and drilled themselves into the ground? Biotech has in general been an investment sink, and while I'm sure much of that is due to the efforts of people like Jim Blanco, I don't know how much of the remaining investments were righteously spent on developing useful ideas and products and still beaten to death by reality.

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6. Puff the Mutant Dragon on July 19, 2013 10:11 AM writes...

Wow!! that just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Good way to start the day...

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7. MoMo on July 19, 2013 10:23 AM writes...

I am actually crying as I type this! I wonder if Len is for hire to crack a few heads of the megalomaniacs I have had to deal with?

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8. cliffintokyo on July 20, 2013 12:20 AM writes...

Thanks for the 'good news' post, Derek. If I was still young enough to be looking for a job in pharma R&D, Regeneron is the place I would be looking, as long as Len Schleifer and his very carefully picked crew are in charge. They deserve all the free advertising they can get. Salute! Gladdens the heart and all that...

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9. Doug Steinman on July 22, 2013 8:27 AM writes...

This is certainly a piece of good news and I wish Regeneron loads of success but not so much that they get taken over by Pfizer or one of the other entities of the Dark Side.

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10. Madeline on July 23, 2013 7:29 PM writes...

Regeneron is just the kind of pharmaceutical company that I would feel really good about investing in. They have a bright future ahead of them, with credentials and focus like that.

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