SFJ Pharmaceuticals Group

It's not every day that you have the opportunity to pioneer a new investment category.

With SFJ in 2008, we were able to create the world's first platform for accelerating the availability of new and innovative drugs by providing both additional funding and strategic development expertise to Pharma and Biotech partners. Although SFJ receives a venture return if an individual project is successful, since SFJ assumes 100% of the development and approval risks, the platform gives the Pharma partner more 'shots on goal' while sparing P&L exposure. SFJ's clinical co-development vehicle also helps relieve some of the key pressures on Pharma today, for example, reduced R&D productivity, increased clinical costs, patent expiries and payor pressure. In return, SFJ benefits from defined capital requirements and timelines to exit, defined exit multiples, potential IRRs of 70%+, and independence of public market volatility.

To date, SFJ has separately funded six Pharma registration trials for partners such as Pfizer and Eisai, in indications including kidney cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer and leukaemia. A total of over $550 million has been invested by SFJ in these programmes, one of which (Eisai's Lenvima™) has already been approved in the US, Europe and Japan, resulting in a fivefold increase in progression free survival for patients and a high-quality exit for SFJ (see SFJ EFV-Thyroid case study).

Abingworth role

During 2007, we met entrepreneur Bob DeBenedetto who had a unique combination of accounting  and life sciences experience including five years as VP of Global Business Development for Quintiles, one of the world's largest clinical development organisations. Bob's initial idea was to fund and co-develop with Pharma bridging studies in Japan to gain Japanese approval for drugs already being marketed in the US and Europe. We worked with Bob, as well as a select group of legal and accounting experts that we brought together, both to broaden the idea to any registration trial and to work out the intricacies of the platform. As a result, SFJ has expertise and a market lead (including Pharma relationships and trust) which are difficult to replicate. Abingworth serves on the Board of SFJ as well as on the Boards of all individual SFJ co-development deals.

Business Late-stage drug development
Indication Multiple (particularly cancer)
Stage Registration trials
Initial Investment December 2008
Outcome 1 programme approved and exited; 5 others in process