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“I’ve been following you closely. I want a job. Who do I speak to?” It’s been striking. There’s a huge amount of interest.
KS: The caliber of the people we are seeing are the best of the best from pharma. They are interested in coming on board with a company like Dendreon that has a rare opportunity to make the transition from an R&D company over the past decade to a company that’s on the cusp of commercializing a very high-profile product like Provenge.
X: A question on manufacturing. I know you just raised a lot of money [$630 million last year]. Do you have enough capacity as things stand now to meet demand during the early phases of the launch?
HB: We’ll be capacity constrained for about 12 months. At launch, there will be less capacity than there is demand. But with this raise, and the fact that we are bringing forward the construction of the Atlanta facility, and California, that period of time is only 12 months. We’ll have both of those plants online by the middle of 2011.
X: How much demand do you anticipate during those first 12 months? I’ve heard CEO Mitch Gold say that Provenge has 93 percent brand recognition already from the target population of urologists and oncologists who would prescribe Provenge, already, before you’ve ever run an ad.
KS: We expect demand is going to be high, but we’re also aggressively communicating that we’ll be launching it as we ramp up our manufacturing facility. Our goal is to make sure that physicians and patients understand that over time, more capacity will be built.
X: Is that a concern that patients who want the drug, and can’t get it, might be pretty unhappy about that? This is, as you say, a life-extending therapy.
HB: We would clearly like to be in a position where we could supply all the patients from Day 1. But as you think about the investment that Dendreon has made in manufacturing, prior to product approval, it’s truly extraordinary. I don’t know if we’ve disclosed the precise capital figure, but we are at risk in building three manufacturing plants before the FDA has approved the product. I don’t know of any other example of a company now that’s putting more capital at risk to get ready.
Every company needs to decide how much it’s going to invest before approval. What I’m saying to you is that we’re investing a very significant amount in capacity. But there will be a period, about 12 months, before we are up to full capacity and we can be assured we can meet full demand.
X: What is one thing you’d like to change now that you’re on board at Dendreon?
HB: I’d like to have a senior vice president of sales and marketing in the office on Monday [laughs].
X: You’re kidding, right?
HB: Well, we’ve had a good week this week. But yeah, it probably won’t happen … Next Page »
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