Farming Pharmaceuticals: Ventria Bioscience and the Controversy over Plant-made Medicines
(11 pages of text)
How can a biotechnology start-up navigate a complex regulatory and stakeholder terrain to bring to market an innovative product with potentially significant public health benefits? This case focuses on the challenges facing Ventria Bioscience, a small biotechnology firm based in California. The company had developed an innovative technology for growing medical proteins useful in the treatment of childhood diarrhea in genetically modified rice. The company's efforts to obtain regulatory approval in California to commercialize its invention met with a firestorm of opposition from a wide range of stakeholders, including environmentalists, food safety activists, consumer advocates and rice farmers. The case presents the hurdles faced by Ventria as it has attempted to commercialize its invention in the context of the broader debate over the ethics of plant-based medicines. This case is suitable for an upper-division undergraduate or graduate course in entrepreneurship, small business, the management of technology or biotechnology. In such a course, it is best positioned in a discussion of the regulatory environment and stakeholder relations. Alternatively, the case may be used in a segment on technology or stakeholder relationships in a course in business and society.
United States, Small, 2004
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