The Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGSI.O) would have been declared insolvent, if not for Benlysta, an experimental drug for Lupus, a complicated illness for which no treatment was found for more than half a century.

Towards the end of their trials, at the late-stage known as BLISS-52, the company’s shares were selling more than 340 per cent in the days following, bringing a new ray of hope. Just within two weeks’ time, it raised $367 million.
Now the company is just waiting to hear approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The agency is expected to meet on November 16, this year and make a call by the end of the year. If the drug is approved, expert hope it could earn more than $3 billion a year.

The genomics bubble burst early as June 2000, when Bill Clinton and Tony Blair announced the survey results of the human genome, what they considered would lead to newer medical treatments.

"Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind," Clinton said. "Today, we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift."

In February that year, HGSI’s stocks were selling at $115, though it had not developed even a single drug, merely because it was part of the genome study.

The company’s founder, William Haseltine predicted that the company's technology would help in a speedy drug discovery process in the coming years.

"Human Genome was the poster child for the genomic bubble," said Kris Jenner, a portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price Healthcare Sciences Fund, the company’s biggest shareholder for ages. "That was the go-go period where every six to nine months the company was raising more money."

The company raised about $2 billion by 1992, and struck a huge deal of $125 million in 1993, when it partnered with SmithKline Beecham, now GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

By 2009, stocks fell by 50 cents a share as Benlysta received mixed responses. By 2004, the board, including Haseltine decided on a leadership change. "It was time for me to go as part of the creative destruction process," Haseltine said. "I really understood the science, but had no understanding, or even interest in, late stage development or marketing."Watkins took over from there.

He was quite different compared to Haseltine, as he was a low-key strategic thinker who kept his emotions on check. Jerry Karabelas, the company's chairman said "He's very, very steady, which makes him a very strong manager, particularly in a biotech company where every day there is an up and a down. If you get too excited about the highs you'll get too depressed about the lows.""Tom came into HGSI at a time when the company desperately needed discipline, focus and a leader who has very strong operational strengths, and he has all those things," said Jenner.

It is now in his hands how to manage the success of Benlysta, which could be in market next year, if it obtains approval from FDA. Watkins says he is clear about what he wants in the next 5 years, and 25 years from now.

"I regard Genentech as the premiere company from the standpoint of what they have created," he said, referring to the maker of cancer drugs such as Herceptin and Avastin. "I'd like for us to mean to the industry in 25 years what Genentech has meant to it over the last 25 years."