CEO and Chairman of Pharmacyclics
After investing in several technology companies, a pioneering robotic surgery company and other successful business ventures, Robert Duggan invested in a biotech firm called Pharmacyclics. He was motivated to buy shares because of its drug that treated brain tumors similar to those that his son suffered from.
The tumor drug ended up failing to gain regulatory approval, however a second medicine in Pharamyclics’ stable has become an effective treatment for lymphoma and leukemia. Pharmacyclics’ new drug is called ibrutinib. It was approved by the FDA in November 2013 for the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and in February 2014 for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This drug is now marketed in the U.S. under the brand name, Imbruvica.
As reported by the Lymphoma Research Foundation, leading up to the approval of ibrutinib, a clinical study followed 85 patients with relapsed CLL, with an average of three previous treatments for each patient. The overall response rate to treatment was 71 percent, and two patients achieved a complete response. Response to treatment also proved to be long-lasting; an estimated 75 percent of patients reached 26 months of progression-free survival.
Before his time at Pharamcyclics’, Mr. Duggan served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board at Computer Motion from 1997 until the conclusion of its merger with Intuitive Surgical in June of 2003. Computer Motion performed the world’s first FDA approved robotic assisted surgery in 1994 as well as the world’s first Trans Atlantic surgery. In this procedure, the surgeon manipulated robotic instruments in New York and the patient’s gallbladder was removed via robotic instruments in a hospital operating room in Strasbourg, France. Mr. Duggan was the co-creator of this project, which took place on September 7, 2001.
In 1999, Robert Duggan received the “La Legion D’Honneur” from the President of France, Jacques Chirac. The award recognizes Mr. Duggan for the introduction of robotic surgical technology to the French healthcare system and its significant impact on reducing patient trauma, reducing patient recovery time, and reducing healthcare cost.