a success story about a former employee of one of the
world’s large drug companies that reconfirms the power of
persistence and entrepreneurialism.
$600 billion drug industry, major companies are under
intense pressure to make hefty profits. So they shy away
from the long shots, which is what Novartis did when it gave
up on a blood-pressure drug (aliskiren) in the mid-1990s.
the company decided it wasn’t economical to continue the
expensive research, Alice Huxley, a 49-year-old who had a
doctorate in biochemistry, and who had been working on the
drug’s research, quit her job at Novartis.
Believing she could solve the chemical riddles that would
lead to a blockbuster success, Huxley struck a deal with
Novartis to set up her own company and take rights to the
drug with her. Novartis’s own start-up venture fund gave Dr.
Huxley $3 million in seed capital, for her new company
Speedel Holding, reserving the right to buy the drug back.
Eventually Dr. Huxley and her staff solved the chemical
riddles, and her company went public in 2005. Her 22% stake
is now worth $229 million. Speedel Holding is presently
looking for other experimental medicines to buy, hoping to
repeat the success story.