Clay Siegall took big risks and saw big payoffs

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Posted by LLJ43 | Posted in Antibody Drug | Posted on 17-07-2017

In 1998, Clay Siegall was one of the nation’s premier cancer researchers. He had spent more than 15 years researching cutting-edge cancer treatments with organizations from the National Cancer Institute to Bristol-Myers Squibb. He had attained the position of senior researcher at the latter company, working on the development of an exciting new line of targeted cancer therapy drugs known as antibody drug conjugates. In his time at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall became convinced that antibody drug conjugates were the way forward in cancer treatment. He saw huge potential in this class of drugs that was able to virtually eliminate side effects, while dramatically increasing the therapeutic window.

It was in that same year that Dr. Clay Siegall decided to break away from the corporate pharmaceutical world and form his own company. Seattle Genetics would be dedicated to the research and development of antibody drug conjugates exclusively, being able to grant its researchers wide latitude in the ways in which they pursued their research projects. Dr. Siegall hoped that, by becoming the head of his own firm, he would have sufficient latitude to work full-time on antibody drug conjugates, eventually bringing them into the mainstream as a form of first-line cancer therapy.

But Seattle Genetics had little operating capital and was running on a skeletal crew and shoestring budget. At the beginning, Dr. Siegall had no products, no patents and little to show for his effort or that of his staff. But he slowly begin building the company up . This culminated in 2001, when Seattle Genetics underwent one of the largest IPOs in the history of the pharmaceutical industry. Raising over $1.2 billion, the company rocketed into the highest ranks of the U.S. pharmaceutical space.

By the year 2011, the company already had one FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate, ADCetris, that was approved for use in refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Additionally, the company also had 20 patented processes that it was licensing out to other pharmaceutical companies and 12 drugs in the development pipeline. Seattle Genetics had finally arrived as a major player in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.