Clovis Oncology - 2009 Fierce 15

FierceBiotech 2009 Fierce 15 winner

Based: Boulder, CO
Founded: 2009
Website: Under development
CEO: Patrick Mahaffy (photo)

The Scoop: Patrick Mahaffy and his team of top execs from Pharmion are back and loaded for action. Pharmion, you may recall, was bought out by Celgene for a cool $2.9 billion. That left enough money for Mahaffy's team to join a group of venture backers willing to provide $145 million to fund a new company that follows much the same game plan.

What Makes it Fierce: In a word: experience. With no programs in development, Clovis has attracted an A-list group of venture backers who believe that this team knows more about selecting a group of five or six cancer drug candidates and pushing them toward regulatory approval than most developers now operating in oncology.

"A lot of this is predicated on what we did well and learned from at Pharmion," Mahaffy told me recently. "We're pretty agnostic as to tumor type. We had products to treat hematological malignancies but also development efforts in solid tumors."

Far from being put off by the current stormy economic climate, Clovis is betting that there are plenty of developers out there who would like a chunk of Clovis' venture funds in exchange for one of their more promising drug development programs. And Clovis is going to spread its net very wide. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the developer has plans to open offices in London and San Francisco.

The team at Clovis includes Chief Medical Officer Andrew Allen, M.D., PhD; EVP of Regulatory Affairs and Technical Operations Gillian Ivers-Reade; and Erle Mast, chief financial officer. They're all back in the same positions they held at Pharmion.

What to look for: Deals. But don't look for a rapid-fire sequence of announcements. Mahaffy makes it clear that Clovis is going to be very selective about which compounds it takes on, limiting itself to about a half dozen of the most promising programs that come its way. And over time the CEO expects to build up a company that looks a lot like Pharmion at the time it was sold, when it had a staff of some 600.

Venture backers: Domain Associates, New Enterprise Associates, Versant Ventures, Aberdare Ventures, Abingworth, Frazier Healthcare Ventures, ProQuest Investments and the company's management team

Clovis Oncology - 2009 Fierce 15
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