Sanofi's Ex-Chief Viehbacher Launches Boston Pharma With $600 Million

Sanofi’s Ex-Chief Viehbacher Launches Boston Pharmaceuticals With $600 Million
November 19, 2015
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Cambridge, Mass.-based Gurnet Point Capital announced today that it is launching a new company, Boston Pharmaceuticals, with former Sanofi chief executive officer Chris Viehbacher to chair it.

Late last year, Viehbacher was ousted by Paris-based Sanofi over battles about strategy with the company’s board. He eventually landed at Gurnet Point Capital in June of this year as managing partner and was given $600 million to develop. Gurnet has $2 billion in capital that it manages.

Boston Pharmaceuticals reportedly has a different business model in that it is not going to focus on a particular disease or even potential drug candidate, at least not yet. Gurnet’s press release states that, “Boston Pharmaceuticals is agnostic to therapeutic area specialization, focused instead on validating mechanisms of action of targeted diseases and efficiently achieving robust clinical and regulatory endpoints. The group will assume the risk of clinical development in de-risking the clinical assets and creating value for patients.”

That seems to mean that they will be hunting for possible drug candidates that academics or biotech companies are working on, and buy them with the intention of developing them. This isn’t really all that new a concept. It’s similar to Waltham, Mass.-based Tesaro , Eli Lilly & Co. ’s Chorus, and Flexion Therapeutics , all which have similar approaches.

Baxalta , based in Deerfield, Ill., but with new facilities in Cambridge, Mass., a recent spinoff from Baxter International , has indicated that its focus isn’t really on drug development, but acquiring potential compounds from others. In an August interview with Boston Business Journal, Baxalta’s chief scientific officer, John Orloff, described the company as, “We’re kind of a ‘small R, big D.’ Our whole approach is one based on external innovation.”

“This is a new way to develop and to bring to market innovative medicines,” Viehbacher said in a statement. “We believe that the combination of our dedicated capital pool and extensive industry expertise will give Boston Pharmaceuticals a significant competitive advantage in this space. In today’s world of enhanced scientific progress, but constrained financial resources for research and development, Boston Pharmaceuticals offers an efficient means to de-risk and unlock value in early stage assets that might not otherwise be developed.”

Viehbacher will act as the company’s chairman. He will be joined by Robert Armstrong, formerly the head of external research and development at Chorus (Eli Lilly), who will act as chief executive officer. Santiago Arroyo, formerly with Pfizer, will be Boston Pharmaceuticals’ chief medical officer. Constantine Chinoporos, former business development executive at Sanofi, will be the new company’s chief business officer.

“The company seeks to put novel medicines that are IND-ready or beyond into its development framework,” said Armstrong in a statement. “We are acquiring molecules outright or through licensing, to take on the risk of development. Our principle focus is to develop these assets through to proof-of-concept, and often through late-stage clinical trials, registration and commercialization. Boston Pharmaceuticals’ objective is to subject each new product to the most rigorous studies, establishing clinical benefit and minimizing development risks.”

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