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Francois Nader, MD
President and CEO
NPS Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Nader describes the state of NPS when he arrived in 2006 as “the perfect storm.” The then-management team genuinely believed that their lead product in development would soon be approved. They were so sure they would be a revenue generating company in the very near term they took on significant debt without blinking an eye. Unfortunately, the product approval never came to fruition, and NPS did not know where to turn. There was no “Plan B,” so the company found itself with a stock price that plummeted 80% and hundreds of employees that it suddenly did not need.

When Dr. Nader joined and examined the company’s assets he concluded that they could be redeployed in a new direction to create value. He moved NPS to a virtual business model - retaining only core competencies in-house and outsourcing or partnering the rest, giving the company access to specific expertise, technologies, and facilities, only as needed.

In 2007, as part of the refocusing, Dr. Nader set the NPS ship on a new course, taking two of the company’s molecules and refocusing development on treating Crohn’s disease and short bowel syndrome (“SBS”), both eligible for orphan drug designation. Dr. Nader also realized that the company needed immediate cash flows. Through licensing arrangements for certain compounds and other techniques Dr. Nader was able to raise sufficient funding to provide working capital and to pay down the substantial debt.

Making it happen

Dr. Nader’s entrepreneurial way of thinking has helped NPS become the success story it is today. Indicative of his unwavering persistence and determination, his motto throughout the transformation has been “we’ll make it happen.”

By identifying and hiring the right talent to form a seasoned team of “doers,” Dr. Nader strengthened the company’s capabilities, creating a lean and agile organization in which each employee is personally accountable and has an opportunity to make a direct, meaningful contribution. Now, NPS employs more than 150 people and is seeking approval from the FDA for its second orphan drug candidate (Natpara).

NPS’s market cap has increased many-fold since Dr. Nader’s arrival and currently exceeds $2.5billion. In December 2012, 26 years after the company was founded, NPS received its first-ever drug approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Gattex, which received orphan drug designation, entitling NPS to seven years of market exclusivity. Most recently, in March 2013, Dr. Nader led the closing of a deal with Takeda, buying back full worldwide rights to teduglutide (Gattex) and PTH-184 (Natpara), both which have the potential to serve high unmet medical needs.

Culture by design

Dr. Nader is proud of the culture he has nurtured at NPS, what he calls “culture by design.” He crafted the NPS culture by asking himself a simple question: “What type of company would I like to work for?” His answer: A company that has integrity, respects one another, strives for excellence, teams with one another, has fun and maintains an entrepreneurial spirit. Those are the values that the NPS employees live by with the overarching view of the “We” mentality.

Following Dr. Nader’s example, employees have learned to live NPS’ values instead of reading them off a poster on the wall. Dr. Nader enforces transparency in all of NPS’ dealings, including the way in which he communicates with employees. He hosts regular town hall meetings and “What’s on Your Mind?” lunches to encourage open dialogue. He is also involved with the selection of every NPS employee and personally welcomes each new hire by inviting them to his office for an informal chat to see how they are doing with their new jobs. Dr. Nader really listens to his employees questions and concerns and goes the extra mile to make the workplace just a little better to ensure his employees see the tangible results of their work, down to the finest details.

As a result, NPS’s culture and values are competitive advantages and key differentiators. Voluntary turnover among employees is low – just four percent in 2012 – and the company has repeatedly received recognition as one of the “Best Places to Work in New Jersey.”

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