Why Profitability Doesn’t Matter: Seattle Genetics and Clay Siegall

Bothell-based biotech company Seattle Genetics recently announced it’s largest funding initiative. Increasing their public stock offering from $480 million to $552 million, the company made this move after noticing a peak in interest from investors. CEO Clay Siegall said that the money will be primarily used to expand their workforce, projecting the addition of 100 new employees per year for the next five years; this would bring their headcount up to 1300 employees.

Additionally, the funding would be used to continue development of their drug pipeline, and for expanding research and access to their flagship cancer medication Adccetris. When asked about the financial losses Seattle Genetics has reported, Siegall said that profitability is not the company’s main concern. “Seattle Genetics could be profitable today,” he said, “but putting profitability first is counterproductive, since we are still a growing company.”

Clay Siegall co-founded Seattle Genetics in 1998, after spending six years with Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute. With Siegall’s help, the company has focused their cancer research on using antibody therapies to combat the causes and horrible symptoms cancer patients often have to live through. So far, the flagship drug Adcetris has been used to treat 15,000 lymphoma patients worldwide. Adcetris was granted FDA approval first in 2011, and Seattle Genetics has three other anti-body based cancer treatments in phase 3 of their clinical trials.

Clay Siegall’s original idea for Adcetris was to take traditional cytotoxic therapy, or chemotherapy, and using a targeted antibody delivery system. Siegall has said that the reason this delivery system is so important is because it specifically targets cancer cells, rather than flushing the system with the poisons used in traditional chemotherapy. His hope is that the future of fighting against cancer doesn’t require making a patient worse, before it can make them better.