Monday, April 9, 2012

One-on-One with Raptor Pharmaceutical CEO Chris Starr

For every biotech company with more than a dozen years under its belt and $1 billion or more burned — and still no drug on the market — there’s a Raptor Pharmaceutical Corp.
OK, maybe not. There are many more companies that have slaved for years toward bringing a drug to market than there are speedy companies like Novato-based Raptor (NASDAQ: RPTP).
The 18-employee was founded a mere six years ago by a couple of BioMarin Pharmaceutical research veterans, Chris Starr and Todd Zankel. It has netted $111.5 million from fundraising and it could have its first drug approved by the end of the year. It filed a new drug application, or NDA, last month with the Food and Drug Administration.
Raptor’s RP-103, however, is no blockbuster. It is a delayed-release version of cysteamine, a drug approved in the 1990s to extend the lives of the fewer than 1,000 patients worldwide with the potentially fatal orphan disease cystinosis. Many of those patients are infants who, if they don’t take the drug, lose kidney function, require a kidney transplant and often die by the time they are teenagers.
I spoke with Starr about the drug, cystinosis and the company’s steady march toward a drug approval.

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