In an era when instant gratification is the modus operandus for people in every sphere of life, last week’s news of the economic progress of Michael Jaharis’ Kos Pharmaceuticals, is an excellent economic lesson in the value of patience.
After putting more than $200 million into the company he founded fifteen years ago, on Thursday, Jaharis, who named it after the Greek island where Hippocrates created the science of medicine, finally heard the news he had waited so long to hear: Kos Pharmaceuticals had become profitable.
This was reflected in its share price increasing more than $7 or 26 percent to close on Thursday at more than $34; a one-year sales growth of nearly 90 percent with a net income of $20.8 million; one-year employee growth of over 25 percent to 726 employees in 2002; an earnings forecast that doubled for 2003 to between $1.20 and $1.30 per share and a 50 percent increase in sales predicted for 2004.
Jaharis, a member of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Leadership 100 and a philanthropist whose interests include the Michael Jaharis Galleries for Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tufts University Boston campus-based nutrition center named for him, is the 75-year-old chairman emeritus of Kos and a majority stockholder.
His wealth has been boosted by over $180 million because of the increased share price.
The kind of visionary approach that led Jaharis to increase sales one-hundredfold at Key Pharmaceuticals, a company he once owned – by introducing such new medical treatments as the first nitroglycerine skin patch – appears to have played a role in his long-term success with Kos, where scientists came up with a way of minimizing a side-effect of niacin-based drugs, specifically, facial redness and tingling.
Though the National Institutes of Health had long-ago called niacin a drug of choice for the treatment of heart disease in concert with exercise and diet, those side-effects kept it from becoming popular.
It took Kos scientists’ development of a long-acting, one-a-day version of a drug known as Niaspan to minimize the side effect while continuing to achieve its primary goal: increasing “good” cholesterol or HDL, a new approach to lowering cholesterol, thereby preventing the clogging of arteries that causes heart disease. Launched in the U.S. five years ago, Niaspan’s second-quarter sales went up 51 percent to $50 million.
Also added to Kos’ arsenal of niacin-based drugs is Advicor, a drug that combines Niaspan with lovastatin, which is a member of the “statin” family of medicines that lower bad cholesterol. Since it was introduced a year and a half ago, Advicor’s quarterly sales rose 30 percent to $14.6 million.