John Butler ’86 believes in people over profits when it comes to the pharmaceutical business.
The CEO of Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals, Butler has spent a great deal of his career caring for people with rare diseases who require medicines unique to their conditions, not the mass-produced drugs that earn companies their biggest profits.
“When you put the patient at the center of everything you do, good medicine is good business,” he says. “That is the way we are building this company.”
Inspiration was founded six years ago by two families with sons who have hemophilia, a condition that prevents blood from clotting.
Two new life-saving drugs, IB1001 and OBI-1, created by Inspiration will help to coagulate the blood in patients and are expected to be on the market by next year.
Butler has worked for Inspiration since 2011, and previously worked for biotech companies Genzyme and Amgen.
My chemistry background allowed me to get into that business because I could talk the talk.
Confident that Inspiration has the potential for a successful future like Amgen’s, Butler says the new drugs are now in clinical trials and negotiations throughout the world, and will be released in the United States, then country by country in Europe and throughout the world.
With both a chemistry major and business minor from Manhattan College, Butler is able to discuss the technical aspects of the drugs his company creates, as well as the business side.
“My chemistry background allowed me to get into that business because I could talk the talk,” he says.
Butler credits his time at Genzyme for his focus on the mission of pharmaceuticals.
“We helped these people that no one else would help. We created an orphan disease business,” he says.
He’s since brought those lessons to Inspiration, which is determined to help hemophiliacs around the world.
“You build a community of people around a disease and you help build awareness. The goal is to help them to help themselves,” he says, noting that 70 percent of hemophiliacs don’t have adequate care. “And we charge a lower price where we can. That is part of our mission.”
His personal mission, he notes, was shaped at Manhattan College.
“I learned to focus on what is right for the individual as opposed to the institution,” he says. “When you are engaging with the person it is about that person. I credit Manhattan with a lot of that.”