Case | HBS Case Collection | September 1993

Manufacturing at ALZA: The Right Prescription? (A)

by Dorothy A. Leonard

Abstract

ALZA, a company specializing in drug delivery systems such as transdermal patches, considers manufacturing its own products. Until now, the company has conducted research and development on its patented system but has then licensed the technology to client-partner companies, such as Ciba-Geigy, that produce the patches and slow-release pills. These client-partner companies always selected the drugs to be incorporated into the systems on the basis of their experience in pharmaceutical markets. Moreover, these partners had done all the manufacturing. Students are asked to consider the implications of ALZA taking responsibility for not only selecting drugs and markets on its own but also managing a high-volume manufacturing facility. The case focuses on a potentially risky venture requiring a whole set of new capabilities.

Keywords: Business or Company Management; Technological Innovation; Innovation and Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Problems and Challenges; Production; Research and Development; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Pharmaceutical Industry; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry;

Citation:

Leonard, Dorothy A. "Manufacturing at ALZA: The Right Prescription? (A)." Harvard Business School Case 694-019, September 1993.