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29. Intarcia Therapeutics

Diabetes drug-delivery system

Kurt Graves, CEO of Intarcia Therapeutics
Source: Intarcia Therapeutics
Kurt Graves, CEO of Intarcia Therapeutics

Founders: James Ahlers, Thomas Alessi, David Franklin
Date launched: 1997
Funding: $888 million
Industries disrupted: Diabetes treatment, pharmaceuticals

A failed cancer drug turned out to be a major turning point for Intarcia Therapeutics. When the company was founded in 1997—and named BioMedicines—it had developed a breast cancer drug that ultimately failed its late-date trials. Fortunately, scientists at the company were also working on a project that would become a diabetes drug-delivery system, and the company reorganized around this new therapy. In 2004 it also changed its name to Intarcia.

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What sets the company apart from other companies with diabetes therapy is its delivery system. A 2-inch rod called the ITCA 650 is inserted just below the patient's skin, where it's able to deliver a slow, steady dose of the diabetes medicine Exenatide over the course of a year. This negates the need for patients to remember to take their diabetes oral medicine or inject themselves and eliminates the unwanted highs and lows that come with taking a once-a-day medication.

CEO Kurt Graves, who worked at Merck and Novartis before joining Intarcia in 2010, says the company will apply to the FDA for approval early next year and, if granted, estimates that its system will launch in 2017. Investors, including Fidelity, NEA and Venrock among them, have already invested $888 million in the company in the hope that it becomes the leader in the $55 billion worldwide market for treating Type-2 diabetes.

"Our game-changing technology platforms have produced the first and only once-yearly and injection-free medicine for one of the biggest diseases on the planet—diabetes." -Kurt Graves, Intarcia Therapeutics CEO

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