Thursday, January 27, 2011

Avid Radiopharmaceuticals

Today's speaker in my Health Care Entrepreneurship class was none other than Dan Skovronsky, Founder and CEO of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals. I don't think we'll have a better speaker in the class.

Avid Radiopharmaceuticals is based on a molecule that Dan invented while doing his MD - PhD at Penn. This radioactive molecule, called florbetapir, is an amyloid imaging agent. When delivered to patients intravenously, the molecule passively diffuses through the blood-brain-barrier to light up amyloid plaques in the brain. These plaques often indicate the presence of Alzheimmer's disease. It turns out that Alzheimmer's is the #1 fear of the elderly, even more than heart disease or cancer.

Dan, who did not have any business training, founded Avid in 2004 and sold the company a few months ago to Lilly for $800M. Avid's acquisition by Lilly was one of the biggest successes in life sciences this year.

One of the most heart warming aspects of this fairy tale of entrepreneurship was the way in which the clinical trials were conducted. Avid recruited elderly patients near the end of their lives (these patients faced end-stage renal disease, cancer, etc.) for their initial testing. These patients knew they were dying and wanted to do something to help patients of Alzheimmers. They therefore agreed to donate their brains to Avid so that Avid's imaging agent could be tested on them. Avid used the brains of 1,000 patients for compound development and tested their compound on about 250 live patients in Phase III clinical trials. Avid later received the obituaries from the families of the patients who had donated their brains for the development trial.

There were two quotes that stuck out from this talk that I'll leave you with:

"Vision without execution is hallucination" - Thomas Edison
"Great companies position themselves to be bought, not to be sold" - Dan Skovronsky

Read below for the press release on the acquisition:

Semester 2 Begins

My friends, it has been too long since I last wrote. Semester 1 at Wharton is in the books, and Semester 2 is well under way.

I spent the first week of my winter break at home, writing cover letters for job applications. I spent the second week of break at school, taking an abbreviated Managerial Accounting class. This class was much more manageable than Financial Accounting.

Since then, it has been all about recruiting. I had 15 interviews during DIP (dedicated interview period) and am waiting to hear if I move forward in the process or if I'm one-and-done. Surprisingly, I'm not too worried because I know that something, somewhere, will work out.

I used to wonder why MBA bloggers went quiet from January - March in the first year. Now I know. Recruiting is a huge time suck. If Q1 was about academics and Q2 about Employer Information Sessions, then Q3 is definitely about recruiting. Maybe Q4 will be about fun?

Meanwhile, the most fun I'm having right now is submitting a business plan for the Wharton Business Plan competition. Get ready for a heart warming tale of entrepreneurship (not mine) in my next post...
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