Calistoga Hands the Keys to Gilead, Bets It Can Make Cancer a Chronic Disease Like HIV
Xconomy, Luke Timmerman, February 23rd, 2011- Calistoga Pharmaceuticals CEO Carol Gallagher was playing with a strong hand of cards, holding onto an emerging cancer drug she could have sold for a mint to any number of Big Pharma companies hungry for innovative new products.
But she and Calistoga’s board took an unusual tack, selling the Seattle-based company for as much as $600 million to an HIV drug powerhouse that’s still a newbie to the cancer drug business—Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD).
While Gilead may not have the experience of a Pfizer, Roche, or Novartis in cancer, it sees the cancer drug landscape evolving into something right up Gilead’s alley, Gallagher says. The vision is that a cancer diagnosis will become less like a short-term death sentence, and more of a chronic disease that must be managed regularly, like HIV. As DNA sequencing gets fast and cheap enough for many more doctors to see what’s going wrong at a molecular level, patients will be treated with cocktails of drugs aimed at specific molecular targets, through convenient oral pills, that offer mild side effects compared to chemotherapy, says Gilead’s chief scientific officer, Norbert Bischofberger. Calistoga’s drug candidates fit right into this vision, he says.
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