Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a for-profit biotech firm founded in 2002, which focuses on discovering, developing, and commercializing novel small-molecule therapeutics derived from a unique boron chemistry platform. While performing early disease screening, Anacor discovered that this platform showed activity against the causative agents of several neglected bacterial and parasitic diseases. Although CEO David Perry felt a responsibility to apply this technology to the neglected disease space, the company was venture-backed and pre-revenue. As a result, devoting time and money to the pursuit of new therapies for complex, unprofitable global health markets would create a conflict with the objectives of its investors.
Despite these constraints, Perry was intrigued by the possibility of applying Anacor’s platform to neglected diseases because he, like many others, perceived a need for real innovation in the global health space. This mini-case study describes how Perry and Eric Easom, who became the company’s Program Leader for Neglected Diseases, devised a plan to leverage non-dilutive funding sources to underwrite this important work and the benefits it creates for the company.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Eric Easom of Anacor for his participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.