06_Carol Nacy

Set the Agenda

She’s a woman on a mission: Convince the world that tuberculosis (a disease with 8 million new cases each year) is a priority public-health problem and develop vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics. “We will be the missing link between science and business,” Carol Nacy says.


Carol Nacy
Founder and CEO, Sequella Inc.
Rockville, Maryland


What needed an overhaul?
Dr. Carol Nacy, an accomplished scientist, seasoned biotech executive, successful entrepreneur, and mother of five, is overhauling the misperception that tuberculosis (TB) is no longer a public health problem. There is a widespread belief in the healthcare industry that existing TB products, created 50-100 years ago, are effective and that there is not a large enough market opportunity for new products. In reality, the world spends over $4 billion on TB control yearly, with $2.8 billion spent in established market economies, the target of pharmaceutical businesses. Moreover, TB, an infectious airborne lung disease, newly infects more than 8 million people and kills 2-3 million people each year.

What was the single biggest obstacle?
Dr. Carol Nacy has fought an uphill battle to demonstrate that the TB market warrants a closer look by the investment community, pharmaceutical companies, as well as private and public research institutions. In the process, she has had to overcome widespread apathy from members of the pharmaceutical industry who declared they had no interest in TB vaccines and drugs. She has also had to challenge investors and pharmaceutical companies who said that money spent on TB would never amount to anything more than charity, because TB patients could not afford to pay for treatment.

How did you overcome it?
Dr. Nacy founded Sequella, Inc., the only company in the world committing 100% of its resources to develop new TB vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. She is collaborating with TB experts, including researchers, entrepreneurs and charities. Dr. Nacy also incorporated a non-profit foundation to raise money for TB research, screen existing TB technologies, and give other companies the opportunity to buy or license them. In addition, she helped develop The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, which published a major TB market analysis November 2001 that supports Dr. Nacy’s contention of an addressable $700 million market for existing off-patent TB drugs.

How have you seen results?
In four years, Sequella, Inc. has secured $8.5 million in grants and seed funding, and identified and developed five TB products, including the world’s first active TB diagnostic entering Phase III clinical trials in early 2002 and a therapeutic vaccine entering Phase I clinical trials in mid-2002. The Sequella Foundation received a $25 million commitment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, identified commercializable vaccine candidates in academia and industry, set up a South African clinical trial site, and initiated clinical development of three leading vaccines. Also, the Global Alliance’s findings on the TB markets revenue potential caught the attention of GlaxoSmithKline.