Tony Coles - Onyx Pharmaceuticals

Nothing is more influential than success

Name: Dr. Tony Coles
Title: CEO, Onyx

Tony Coles had a great year in 2012. The Onyx ($ONXX) CEO continued to rack up impressive revenue from Nexavar, co-marketed with Bayer. The biotech retained complete control in the U.S. and Europe for the newly approved multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis (carfilzomib, in-licensed from Proteolix). And it will enjoy a swelling stream of cash from Stivarga (regorafenib), a next-gen version of Nexavar that should continue to deliver bottom-line cash for years to come from a hard-won 20% royalty deal.

In biotech, nothing is more influential than success--a rare commodity in the industry. And Onyx has enjoyed a legendary run of success. Coles quickly positioned Kyprolis against its main competition, Millennium's Velcade, fielding a tightly organized sales force with a product priced at a slight premium. That strategy inspired some analysts to predict blockbuster revenue from the new drug.

So it's not too surprising that when Onyx announced plans a few weeks ago to raise $358 million in a stock offering, the buzz centered on speculation that Coles was looking to go buy something, a fresh change from the fevered rumors that Onyx has been on the verge of being bought out.

Some of that money, though, will certainly go to R&D work. There's an aggressive Phase III program for thyroid and breast cancer for Nexavar, while add-on programs are under way for other cancers. More work is being done to expand the market for Kyprolis as well, with a partnership with Pfizer ($PFE) for the midstage PD-0332991 and early-stage research in motion on other therapies.

Onyx has become a model biotech under Coles' leadership, demonstrating how a savvy R&D strategy coupled with a strong commercial strategy (tied to a willingness to make demands when necessary) can command respect from the market and make the company a leader worth watching.

Luck had nothing to do with this. Coles--a physician and 20-year industry veteran--has made calculated, carefully asset-focused gambles that are paying off handsomely. It's a winning style that has helped blaze a path others are certain to follow, making a difference in the way cancer drugs are partnered, developed and sold throughout the world.

-- John Carroll (email | Twitter)

Tony Coles - Onyx Pharmaceuticals

Suggested Articles

Last month, rumors out of Bloomberg whispered that Gilead, more known for its COVID-19 work these days, was gearing up for a major stake in Arcus.

The NGOs think Big Pharma controls the agenda of the IMI, leading it to prioritize areas that are profitable for drugmakers over public health needs.

Scientists at McMaster University and the University of Toronto have formed Empirica Therapeutics to bring a CAR-T for glioblastoma into the clinic.