Based: San Diego, CA
Why It's Fierce: Verus doesn't have any drugs currently in the pipeline. But it will. Verus currently is all about experienced management and cash. Cam Garner (CEO) and his biotech start-up team landed $98 million in first-round financing ($20 million of that in the form of a loan); money that was delivered by a group of venture capitalists who were willing to bet on their track record. Garner and four other executives at Verus -- that includes Verus president Bob Keith and sales and marketing chief Peter Schineller -- started Dura Pharmaceuticals, which was bought out by Elan for $1.8 billion in 2000. Garner and others were also part of Excel. Unlike several of the companies on this list, you won't see years of research devoted to brilliant, preclinical lab work. Armed with a big cash coffer, expect this upstart to move swiftly to in-license later stage and approved pediatric drugs that can be put to the test and then pointed at a market. In fact, Keith says the first product is slated to arrive by early July.
What to look for: Plans are to start adding products, people and sales. Current staff should swell from 25 to 100 by year's end with the emphasis on development and commercialization. Look for one or two Phase III asthma candidates in the pipeline by mid-2006.