WASHINGTON _ Samuel Broder, outgoing director of theNational Cancer Institute (NCI), will trade the politics ofgovernment-sponsored research for the pressures of corporatescience.
Broder, who announced last week that he would retire from NCI tobecome chief scientific officer of IVAX Corp., of Miami, willpreside over a firm with global ambitions and a line of generic drugsso profitable that company officials predict that 1995 will be IVAX'sfirst billion-dollar year.
But IVAX officials said they did not hire one of the nation's mostrespected scientists to oversee its copy-cat drug business, howeverlucrative it is. Rather, they are banking on Broder to help IVAXdevelop new drugs to alleviate the misery of AIDS, cancer and otherailments.
Armando Tabernilla, IVAX's vice-president for legal affairs, said,"Our goal has always been to have our own drugs, important drugsthat will generate significant revenues. Broder has excellentcredentials to assist our research and development program."
Broder, a medical oncologist whose major research interest is clinicalimmunology, has authored or co-authored more than 300 researchpublications, chief among them: reports on the biology of theimmune system; on abnormal immunoregulation in cancer; and onthe relationship between cancer and immunodeficiency.
IVAX currently has eight proprietary drugs in various phases ofresearch and development. According to the latest annual report, thecompany's leading compound is a proprietary new drug IVAX hastrade-named Elmiron.
The drug, for the treatment of interstitial cystitis, is approved for usein Canada. It is not yet approved in the U.S., but IVAX hassubmitted a new drug application to the FDA _ the company's firstin this country.
Currently, the drug can be obtained on a compassionate-use basis.
The company also is compiling an investigational new drugapplication to test a form of Taxol (a registered trade-mark ofBristol-Meyers Squibb Co.) in humans. It is also developing drugs toreverse drug overdoses; to protect bone marrow from the ravages ofchemotherapy; to treat Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy; and to slowthe progression of the AIDS virus.
The main ingredients of the anti-AIDS drug, registered by IVAX asScriptene, are AZT and ddI _ both developed mainly underBroder's supervision at NCI.
Broder, who could not be reached for an interview, told TheWashington Post that he decided to leave public service in partbecause he was fed up with the commonly held view thatgovernment impedes progress.
Harold Varmus, director of the National Institutes of Health, lastweek issued a statement expressing his regret that Broder isdeparting and wishing him well.
But the statement also referred to the "very difficult circumstances"that dogged Broder while at NCI, where he had spent his six years asdirector trying to preserve institute programs in an era of shrinkingfunding and juggling activists' demands for progress against breastcancer and AIDS.
IVAX represents a new world for Broder.
"This company can make decisions in five minutes that would takethe government probably three to four years to make," Broder toldthe Post. In addition, IVAX _ founded seven years ago by PhillipFrost, a multi-millionaire and former colleague of Broder's on an NCI advisoryboard _ made Broder an offer "he couldn't refuse."
Broder will apparently make much more than his current governmentsalary of about $120,000. Last year, IVAX executives reportedlyearned between $225,000 and $340,000, in addition to stock optionsworth millions of dollars. n
-- Steve Sternberg Special To BioWorld Today
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.