NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With voting now open for the Best and Worst Biotech CEOs of 2014, @NiellsenEllie was curious about past winners (or losers) of this most illustrious award. It's an interesting group. Even more interesting is taking a look at what happened to them after winning their awards.
The first Best Biotech CEO of the Year trophy was awarded in 2008 to Peter Meldrum of Myriad Genetics (MYGN) . Here's what I wrote at the time:
Last May, Meldrum persuaded Danish drug firm Lundbeck to fork over $100 million upfront in exchange for European commercial rights to Myriad's experimental Alzheimer's disease drug Flurizan. It wasn't the biggest licensing deal of the year, but certainly the most well timed since a bit more than one month later, Flurizan was gone, the victim of a failed phase III study. Unfortunately for Lundbeck, that $100 million payment to Myriad was non-refundable. Myriad lost Flurizan, which didn't really matter since very few investors thought it had any chance of working anyway, but the company got to keep the $100 million, which essentially recouped the cost of the phase III study. Some might call Meldrum's deal making dumb luck. I call it brilliant. Myriad Genetics was already under pressure from investors to stop spending heavily on drug development, including Flurizan, because it was muzzling profits in the company's fast-growing genetic cancer testing business.
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And that's exactly what Meldrum did. Today, he's still CEO of Myriad, overseeing the company's cancer genetics testing business.
In 2009, Human Genome Sciences' Tom Watkins won Best Biotech CEO honors for delivering positive results -- and a huge return for shareholders -- from two phase III studies of the lupus drug Benlysta. In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) bought Human Genome Sciences for $3 billion, which turned out to be an unwise decision. Benlysta has been a commercial disappointment. Today, Watkins is chairman of the board of Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA) .
Dendreon (DNDN) CEO Mitch Gold took home Best CEO honors in 2010 for shepherding the prostate cancer vaccine Provenge through a volatile and circuitous FDA approval process. The accolades were short lived. In 2011, Gold was named the Worst Biotech CEO for the Provenge commercial launch fiasco. Today, Gold manages a successful health care investment fund, so life does go on.
The 2011 "Best" award was controversial. Vertex Pharma (VRTX) CEO Matt Emmens won the readers' poll for overseeing the successful approval and launch of the hepatitis C drug Incivek. Not a bad choice at the time, but it did mean shunning Pharmasset CEO Schaefer Price, who didn't have a too shabby of a 2011. Remember? He sold Pharmasset to Gilead Sciences (GILD) for $11 billion. I used my prerogative as overseer of the award to name Price co-winner.
And good thing I did. Incivek's rocketship commercial launch was short lived as Vertex's hepatitis C business died rather quickly due to intense and superior competition. One of those competitors: Sovaldi, the hepatitis C wonder drug Gilead acquired through the Pharmasset deal. Emmens departed Vertex in late 2011. I believe Price is still busy counting all the money he made from the Gilead deal.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) CEO Leonard Schleifer was the Best Biotech CEO of 2012 for the wildly successful development, approval and commercial launch of Eylea. Schliefer is still kicking butt at Regeneron.
Finally, Celgene (CELG) CEO Bob Hugin snagged last year's Best Biotech CEO honors. Here's what I wrote:
In an incredibly strong year for all the big-cap biotech stocks, Hugin steered Celgene to the top of the heap. The multiple myeloma drug Revlimid remains Celgene's most important profit driver, but the company did well to diversify in 2013. Pomalyst, Abraxane and apremilast were all big winners for the company this year. Under Hugin's direction, Celgene also signed a large number of drug development partnerships for early-stage compounds, which makes the company a player in emerging technologies.
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