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Interview With Onyx Pharmaceuticals’ Chief Medical Officer, Michael Kauffman- Part One

Home/Interview With Onyx Pharmaceuticals’ Chief Medical Officer, Michael Kauffman- Part One

Interview With Onyx Pharmaceuticals’ Chief Medical Officer, Michael Kauffman- Part One

As promised, here is Part One of my three part series about last Friday’s interview with Dr. Michael Kauffman, Chief Medical Officer/for Onyx Pharmaceuticals, maker of the new proteasome inhibitor, carfilzomib.

First, here is what Google has to say about Dr. Kauffman:

Director, CombinatoRx, Inc. CMO, Onyx Pharmaceuticals
Boston , MA
Sector: HEALTHCARE / Biotechnology
46 Years Old

Michael G. Kauffman, M.D., Ph.D., joined us in November 2009 as our interim chief medical officer and was appointed to the position of chief medical officer in February 2010. From December 2008 to November 2009, Dr. Kauffman was chief medical officer at Proteolix, Inc. and served on their board of directors from June 2006 to February 2009. From 2002 to 2008, Dr. Kauffman was president and chief executive officer of EPIX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (previously Predix Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), a pharmaceutical company. From 1997 to 2002, he held a number of senior medical and program leadership positions at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (now a subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company). Earlier in his career, he served as medical director at Biogen Corporation (now Biogen Idec). Dr. Kauffman earned his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Amherst College and his M.D. and Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry from Johns Hopkins. He trained in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess

My first impressions of Dr. Kauffman were positive. He is personable and approachable–definitely not pretentious. He is a relatively short man–probably about 5’9″ or 5’10”. We met in a quiet reception area in a rarely used, outer wing of McCormick Place. Dr. Kauffman was well dressed, wearing glasses and a grey suite and white shirt–neither of which was perfect or immaculately pressed–just what you want to see in a working researcher.  He was accompanied by Dr. Heidi Gillenwater, Onyx Pharmaceuticals’ Medical Director and Director of Corporate Communications Lori Murray. We spent 35 minutes together–much of it discussing some specifics about how carfilzomib might be able to help me, or patients like me.

Onyx’s drug, carilzomib, is one of several new anti-myeloma drugs featured here at ASCO, and at last year’s ASH. Positive research data is great, but except for a few fortunate patients in clinical studies, so what? Like a lot of multiple myeloma survivors, all I/we really care about is staying alive. Understanding my frame of reference should help you come to the same place as I prepared for this interview:

Dr. Kauffman, I really only have one question: When can my fellow multiple myeloma patients begin to use carfilzomib?

To summarize about a ten minute transcript, here is Dr. Kauffman’s response: “If everything proceeds as expected, we should be filing for accelerated approval by the end of this year. Six months later we will hopefully gain preliminary FDA fast track approval. The drug should be available for distribution to relapsed and refractory patients in as little as two years.”

Two years? Not great, but I’ll take it!

I would like to pause and explain how I conducted the interview. As many of you already know, I suffer from serious peripheral neuropathy (PN) throughout my body, but especially in my fingers and legs below the knees. It is very difficult for me to write. Since I did not have a tape recorder (I won’t make that mistake again!) I took notes using my small HP mini-laptop.

I feel being a multiple myeloma patient myself gives me great insight when interviewing someone like Dr. Kauffman. But I also find myself getting caught-up in the moment. I find myself holding a conversation as opposed to an interview. This style has been effective for me in the past–as I believe it was Friday. Everyone relaxes and just has a conversation–as you might over drinks at the end of a long day of meetings.

But I must confess I start to take fewer and fewer notes as I become engaged. So as I continue with Part Two of the interview tomorrow, I want you to understand why I am doing more paraphrasing, rather than using direct quotes.
Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat