When Victoria Hale left her job as a pharmacologist at Genentech in 1998, she made a list. It detailed areas that she felt the pharmaceutical industry had ignored: orphan drugs for metabolic disorders, treatments for substance abuse, modernization of contraceptives, and global infectious disease. Hale, an ebullient woman who also had more than five years of experience as a drug evaluator at the Food and Drug Administration, looked over what she had written and decided that, of the various choices, fighting infectious disease would have the most pronounced impact on public health.
To achieve her goal, however, would require setting up a venture that would differ radically from the traditional business models embraced by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. To make drugs affordable in places where annual family incomes were often less than the cost of an MP3 player, the first thing that would have to be jettisoned was the profit motive.
This article was originally published with the title Making Drugs, Not Profits.