I have to start out with an apology; I wanted to post a blog last night after the first day on the trade floor at DDT to provide you with insight into the show currently going on at the World Trade Center in Boston. But to be honest, I didn’t want to sound negative. For a number of reasons I haven’t been to DDT in over 5 years and so when I walked onto the trade floor yesterday I couldn’t believe my eyes, the show has really shrunk in size! Gone were many of the usual suspects and the remaining vendors all had smaller booths and fewer special events planned.
Does this foretell of a bleak future for drug discovery in the US? Despite my first impression, I’d now say NO…
And the reason for my change of heart was the Millennium Press Event held today in the Beacon Hill Room. Along with other representatives of the press, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with the President and CEO of Millennium, Deborah Dunsire, MD. What an elegant leader and excellent communicator! With a strong command of the facts, Dr. Dunsire told the Millennium success story with confidence and spirit.
To address my aforementioned concern, the recent acquisition by Takeda Pharmaceuticals did not represent a sellout of an American company, but rather an opportunity for Millennium to focus on its core competency to move compounds in the pipeline through the phases of clinical development and commercialization. They are currently working to process 20 compounds in the pipeline right now and anticipate adding at least 5 more each year for the foreseeable future. That’s a lot of compounds and will require that Millennium adhere to their rigorous processes and reprioritize their effort as needed throughout the development phases so that they deliver on unmet medical needs with a solid ROI.
On the discovery side, the company will continue to work on Velcade® , the first-in-class proteasome inhibitor, a therapeutic agent that is effective on the treatment of diseases of protein homeostasis, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The effort will be on developing modifications and new formulations that may enable delivery of the drug to solid tumors and other sites that can’t be reached today.
Back to my concern: a huge challenge in any acquisition, particularly when a smaller company is acquired by a larger company is the preservation of the company culture. But after seeing the strength and foresight of their leader, Dr. Dunsire I am confident that not only will Millennium survive but they will thrive as a consequence of this acquisition. Further, they now have the resources to make good on their promise to improve the lives of their patients.
I was truly impressed, with Millennium’s inspirational leader. With Dr. Dunsire at the helm, Millennium will be a great place to work. If you, like many of us that have been displaced in the workforce during these troubled times, are looking for work, take a closer look at this company. This center of excellence will need to increase its headcount with approximately 300 new positions within the next year to enable their new focus on the commercialization of new drugs.