C. Randall Mills, Osiris Therapeutics

Jun 01, 2009
By Pharmaceutical Executive

C. Randall Mills
President and CEO, Osiris Therapeutics

I worked my way through college in the emergency room. It taught me a lot about life, death, and human suffering. Saving a life or helping someone who is suffering is an incredible feeling; I wanted to find a way to do it on as large a scale as possible.

When I accepted the position of CEO at Osiris, I was only 32. The company had been around for 12 years, but was really struggling. I needed to change the culture, and fast. Unfortunately, that meant changing many of the people who had been involved with the company for a long time. It was very hard, but five years later the transformation is dramatic, and the lumps are now fond lessons.

At Osiris, we've built a culture where patients come first, and we've accomplished much over the last year: We formed the largest stem-cell partnership ($1.4 billion) to date with Genzyme Corporation; we created and sold our first commercial stem-cell product line for $85 million in cash; and we won a $227 million Department of Defense contract. But I think my most significant accomplishment is receiving the first-ever FDA expanded-access approval for a stem-cell therapy, providing life-saving treatment to children who would likely otherwise die.

Being a pioneer can be hard. Every step we take—be it enrolling a Phase III trial or inking a billion-dollar distribution deal—is the first of its kind. There are no precedents to follow. But I think this type of breakthrough innovation is most valuable to the industry and to the patients we serve. Although the risks are high, when successful, a new segment of our industry will be born.