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New Incyte Head Says Clinical Trials at Least Three Years Out

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 7 - The newly appointed CEO of Incyte Genomics said on Monday that medicinal chemists will be the most important group to help the company launch its new drug-discovery program.


"By far the most critical group are the medicinal chemists," said Paul Friedman, who arrived from Merck to take the helm of Incyte in November. "That's what I've done in R&D [at Merck]. But I think the same principles apply."


Tied to that effort, designed to move Incyte from bioinformatics back to drug discovery, are pans to build a small-molecule effort in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, said Friedman, who spoke at the 20th annual JPMorgan H&Q Healthcare Conference, held here through Thursday. Several sites were being considered for an approximately 100,000-square-foot facility, he said.


Incyte also announced plans to hire between 100 and 200 researchers to work in small-molecule discovery. While Friedman said job offers have already been put out to a "significant" number of people, the bulk of the hiring will take place over a year or more.


He said that the company would leverage its data, IP, and various licenses to hone in on drug targets, and that a drug would not reach clinical trials for at least three years. Friedman also offered few details about how a drug pipeline would be filled. Rather, he said, milestones would be announced at an unspecified later date.

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