technology even more in the last two years as part of the new management focus,” says Buchalter, “because we believe there is a big issue in terms of the need for delivery systems today, compared to 20 years ago. We’re not talking about drugs like proteins, we’re talking about monoclonal antibodies, anti-sense, RNA; these are the buzz words in the cancer field. Each of them has an issue when it comes to delivery, so we think there’s an opportunity to reinvent the excitement around PEGylation now we have invested in it to create these new types of molecules. We call them the molecules of the 21st century.” PEGylation as a process is not unique to Enzon, but it is absolutely a niche market, and Enzon has its own proprietary technology for it, so direct competition is limited. Even the pharmaceutical giants come to Enzon for its expertise. “Big companies have vast resources,” says Buchalter, “but October 07 Businessexcellence 5 asparaginase, which was developed by Enzon, and has been a mainstay for more than 30 years in the treatment of ALL, but its therapeutic value is limited by its short half-life and propensity to cause allergic reactions. Enzon’s proprietary PEGylation technology has significantly increased its half-life in the blood, allowing administration every other week rather than every other day for the unmodified version, and also reducing allergic reactions. PEGylation, explains Buchalter, is the technology that sets Enzon apart (PEG stands for polyethylene glycol). “In essence PEGylation is a delivery system,” he says. “It’s something that Enzon brought to the market some 20-odd years ago. What it does, taking proteins as an example, is modify the molecule by adding a linker to a specific site of the compound to liberate it from some impediment. Oncaspar is a PEGylated form of L- asparaginase. Because it’s PEGylated it’s given less frequently and you get the same therapeutic value, so a person has fewer injections with the PEGylated version than the native version. PEGylation increases what we call the half life (it stays in the body longer) and is less toxic. The outcome is a better molecule and the skill is in how it’s PEGylated. “We have been investing in this Interview “Health is a great backdrop to get people excited and although I never suggested to anybody about working the weekend we now have people coming in on Saturdays and Sundays to finish experiments” Jeffrey H. Buchalter Bachelor’s degree in finance from Seton Hall University, and MBA in marketing from Temple University. Held positions at Schering-Plough Corporation in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Group director for the women’s healthcare business of American Home Products (later Wyeth) from 1993 to 1997. Group vice president and head of the worldwide oncology franchise at Pharmacia Corporation from 1997 to 2000. Career honors include the American Cancer Society’s Joseph F. Buckley Memorial Award for commitment to cancer control and involvement in the oncology pharmaceutical field. Former President George Bush invited him to serve as a collaborating partner in the National Dialogue on Cancer.
developing a lot of these compounds,” says Buchalter. “It’s too early to project when things might get to the point of regulatory consideration. A strategy that we’ll employ along with developing our own products is to look at licensing opportunities and bringing other products into the portfolio.” Working on projects that take years to come to fruition, it must be a challenge to maintain motivation in the workforce. That’s where the new strategy proved its value, internally, as well as externally. Galvanizing people around the strategy has brought about a palpable change in culture. “We’ve created a great place to work,” he says. “People want to come work for us now, they’re excited about the projects we have and they really do push themselves, rather than the boss saying you have to do it, which gets old after a while.” You’d almost never find anyone working at the weekend, he explains, and if you make them work overtime, they get burned out and 6 Businessexcellence October 07 staff and the geographical location. They needed the company in its form rather than just the assets, and that’s a merger of strength. Those things do happen, but if we execute our plan and do our job we’ll be in good shape.” So, is Enzon interested in making acquisitions of its own, perhaps? “We are always opportunistic from a business standpoint, and that is something we would consider doing if we found the right fit. You have to be careful. There are two reasons to merge, one is strength and one is weakness. If I were to merge it would be on strength, not on weakness, so there would be real synergies created from the combination rather than trying to overcome issues.” Enzon has several new products in its pipeline, intended for the treatment of cancers and other diseases such as hepatitis C and Crohn’s disease. It’s a long pipeline, however, extending into years. “We’re in the early stage of they still can’t do everything. They will often license a technology as they need it for a specific molecule, rather than using their internal resources, so there’s a wonderful opportunity for us as we begin to move to the new generation of PEGylation technology, even with big companies, as they look for solutions to delivery issues in some of their molecules. It’s not that they can’t do it, but it’s not their priority.” The pharmaceutical industry has been characterized by consolidation in recent years, as the major players try desperately to bolster up their pipelines, but Buchalter does not lose any sleep over the possibility of Enzon being a target. He has a matter of fact philosophy on the subject. “Consolidation is the natural order of things in all industries,” he says. “It’s a fact of life and I don’t think about it on a regular basis. My previous company was acquired and it was a great fit because the people were protected, they maintained the employed