San Diego’s Zogenix Moving Fast to Commercialize Drug-and-Device Combo

Xconomy San Diego — 

It took centuries for the basic concept of a syringe—a plunger that fits tightly in a tube—to evolve into the medical hypodermic syringe, which uses a hollow needle to inject medication beneath the skin.

The founders of San Diego’s Zogenix say they have developed a faster and simpler method for subcutaneous injections—and on a much faster track.

The specialty pharmaceutical company was founded just four years ago, and won FDA approval for its combined migraine drug and needle-free delivery system in mid-2009. It began selling its sumatriptan delivery device in January, under a marketing agreement with Illinois-based Astellas Pharma that was announced last August.

Zogenix also found time since 2006 to raise a total of $199 million in capital ($164 million in venture funding and $35 million in debt financing) and to initiate a pivotal, late-stage trial of a controlled-release formulation of a second drug candidate, a novel tablet form of hydrocodone for long-term, chronic pain.

Suffice it to say, the company has accomplished a lot in a short time.

Roger Hawley

Roger Hawley

But Zogenix CEO Roger Hawley says it wasn’t exactly clear what technologies Zogenix would develop when he founded the startup with seed funding from some of San Diego’s most-prominent life science investors, including Cam Garner, the former chairman and CEO of Dura Pharmaceuticals. Hawley, who had previously worked at Brisbane, CA-based InterMune and Glaxo, says he met Garner after Elan had acquired San Diego-based Dura for $1.8 billion in 2000.

“Cam was sort of exiting Elan at the time when I was recruited,” Hawley says. They were both founding investors in the startup, along with Jim Blair of Domain Associates, Hybritech founder David Hale, and Scott Glenn, a former Quidel CEO who was then with San Diego-based Windamere Ventures. “We all put a little seed money into the company, and I started looking for a product,” Hawley says.

As it turned out, Hawley says the first product they looked at was a … Next Page »

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