Genentech – born at the intersection of genetics, engineering, and technology – was founded by biochemist Herbert Boyer and venture capitalist Robert Swanson in 1976. Widely considered the founder of the biotech industry, Genentech changed the face of medicine when it became the first to scale up protein manufacturing successfully from the small quantities used for research to the much larger quantities needed to treat patients. The company has a long history of breakthrough innovations including the development of the first recombinant DNA medicine ever marketed, the first targeted medicine approved to treat cancer, and the first medicine shown to improve vision in the most common cause of blindness in adults.
Genentech has been a fully owned member of the Roche Group since 2009. Roche has been the majority owner of Genentech since 1990. Genentech’s California campus serves as the headquarters for Roche pharmaceutical operations in the United States. In 2012, sales of Genentech’s medicines in the United States were CHF13.856 billion.
Genentech’s research scientists have earned more than 10,500 patents and brought breakthrough medicines to people with serious diseases such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and stroke. Overall, it has 35 medicines on the market and at least 30 more in clinical development.
Genentech’s medicine Herceptin, approved in 1998 to treat breast cancer patients with the HER2-positive genetic sub-type of the disease, is widely recognized as ushering in the era of personalized medicine. Since 2011, Genentechin concert with Roche has brought four new cancer medicines to people in great need of more treatment options: Zelboraf, a medicine for people with metastatic melanoma who have a specific mutation and Erivedge for people with advanced forms of a disfiguring skin cancer. More recently, Perjeta and Kadcyla were approved for people with certain types of HER2-positive breast cancer. Genentech’s scientists have been studying the HER2 pathway for more than 30 years and these new medicines provide additional options that build on the progress made with Herceptin.
From its beginnings, at Genentech there has been a strong belief that people in need of medicine should have access to it. A team of more than 350 employees is dedicated to getting patients the medicines they need, and provides a variety of services including help in understanding insurance coverage and assistance with claims denials.
The Genentech Access to Care Foundation provides free medicines to patients in the United States who are uninsured, underinsured or rendered uninsured due to payer denial, including private insurance patients who have exceeded their lifetime maximum benefits.
Genentech’s groundbreaking approach to research and innovation continues today, as evidenced by the company’s collaboration with the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and the National Institutes of Health to conduct the first-ever prevention trial in healthy individuals who are likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease due to their genetic history. The study involves an entirely new approach to stopping the underlying mechanisms of the disease and is being conducted primarily in the Antioquia region of Colombia.