Eight Lessons from Joshua Boger (Vertex)
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Joshua Boger is the Founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals where he was CEO for 20 years starting in 1989 and ending in 2009. Boger was previously a chemist at Merck and started the company to pursue a rational drug design versus the conventional approach of combinatorial chemistry at the time. Vertex has brought new medicines to patients with hepatitis C, cystic fibrosis, and is positioned to do more over the next few decades.
1.“Vertex’s plan has always been to be a fully capable company, and that’s still the plan”
Boger always had the vision to keep Vertex independent. A care occurrence in drug development. The company’s success and ability to endure is an inspiration for new founders to build the same.
2. “Everyone in the structure-based drug discovery field has long recognized their targets weren't static. Whatever method was used to try to understand a biological process or design a drug that treated a protein as a fixed block, was making a drastic assumption.”
3.“If I’m right I’m gonna save a million lives a year. What else are you doing that’s so important?”
When Boger would hire people he would use this line to convert them.
4.“Delivering the drug to the patient is every bit as challenging, every bit as important, and every bit as creative as the laboratory where you come up with the drug.”
5.From Vicki Sato describing Boger: “He has an outrageous sense of possibility coupled with a very deep sense of self-confidence about one’s ability to translate that into something that is actually working.”
6. “We are going to seize as much of this ground as we can. This is not something we can come back to in 20 years. The fun will all be over.”
In 2001, Vertex made a transformative acquisition of Aurora Biosciences, which ultimately produced Kalydeco to treat cystic fibrosis patients as well as Orkambi later on. Despite Boger’s focus on building up Vertex, like all great CEOs he identified an opportunity and took it.
7.“As we become a larger company and we shift from a company that consumes capital to a company that creates capital, our footprint will grow.”
8. “One of the stumbling blocks of technology-based companies is they sometimes get entranced with their technology because they don't appreciate the old days.”