Case Detail

Case Summary

Enbrel: The Sting of Success

Case Number: 5-104-015, Year Published: 2004

HBS Number: KEL069

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Authors: Alicia Loffler; Geetha P Krishnan

Key Concepts

Biotechnology, Product Development, Manufacturing, Growth Strategy, Management Strategy, Research & Development


Immunex, a small Seattle biotechnology company, stumbles into a hugely successful and groundbreaking product. Enbrel, a tumor necrosis factor, is immediately recognized as the most effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis-a $300 billion market in the United States. After almost 20 years of unprofitability, Enbrel is a lifesaver for Immunex. But it could also become the company's worst nightmare. Immunex, after years of being cash-starved, has not been able to build production capabilities to satisfy the sudden and massive demand for its drug. This case illustrates the decision-making process on how and when to build commercialization capabilities in a small biotechnology company. In addition it explores options for reacting to an unexpected demand in a hypercompetitive market.

Number of Pages: 19

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Biotechnology, Entrepreneurship, Management, Manufacturing

Geographic: US

Industry: Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals

Organization Name: Immunex

Organization Department: Management

Organization Size: Small

Decision Maker Position: CEO

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2000