A Drug Company Invests $18 Million in an Eritrean S.F. Biopharma Startup
A drug company headliner invests in S.F. biopharma startup with Africa focus
By Ron Leuty
Former Elan Corp. chief Kelly Martin is taking an interest in Africa.
Martin, a director with Ireland's Malin Corp. plc, will join the board of San Francisco's Serenus Biotherapeutics Inc. as chairman. Malin is taking a 41 percent stake in the Africa-focused specialty biopharmaceutical company for $18 million.
Malin will have the right to invest up to $25 million more and raise its stake in Serenus to up to 76 percent.
Kelly and Dr. Menghis Bairu, the founder, president and CEO of Serenus, are no strangers. Bairu was Elan's chief medical officer when Martin was CEO.
Serenus specializes in late-stage drug development, in-licensing and commercializing drugs for African markets that have been approved in the United States, Europe and Japan.
Bairu is a native of the East African country of Eritrea. He created Serenus last year to translate drugs for a growing African middle class that has a bulging list of first-world health problems.
"Over time, you see the evolution of African countries and you see diseases shifting," Bairu told me last year. "I want to change that. We have to change that."
The route for taking Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to Africa may look easy to an outsider, but it's not, Bairu said. Africa has multiple regulatory systems and distribution problems, for example, but the payoff could be great.
"You just have to customize it and work with the on-the-ground team," Bairu said.
A Drug Company Invests $18 Million in an Eritrean S.F. Biopharma Startup Reviewed by Admin on 3:10 PM Rating: