Richard Roberts (pharmaceutical executive)

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Richard H. Roberts
Born1957 (age 61–62)
ResidenceLakewood Township, New Jersey
NationalityUnited States
EducationM.D. and Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania
Known forCEO and chairman of URL Pharma
Political partyRepublican

Richard H. Roberts (born 1957) is an American pharmaceutical executive, philanthropist, and political activist.


Born in a secular Jewish family Philadelphia in 1957[1] and raised in Abington Township, Pennsylvania,[2] the son of Albert Roberts.[3] His father, a chemist, started URL Pharma in 1946 which manufactured steroidal hormones that treated pain by collecting pig pituitary glands from slaughterhouses.[3] Roberts earned a M.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.[1] After school, he took over his father’s money-losing pharmaceutical company.[1] In 1997, he sold majority control of the firm to several venture capital firms which left him as the CEO of the company with a ~30% ownership interest.[3]

In 2009, the FDA approved colchicine as a monotherapy for the treatment of three different indications (familial Mediterranean fever, acute gout flares, and for the prophylaxis of gout flares)[4] and gave URL Pharma a three-year marketing exclusivity agreement[5] in exchange for URL Pharma doing 17 new studies and investing $100 million into the product (of which $45 million went to the FDA for the application fee). URL Pharma subsequently raised the price from $0.09 per tablet to $4.85; and in October 2010, the FDA removed the older unapproved colchicine (in both in oral and intravenous forms) from the market (although they allowed pharmacies the opportunity to buy up the older unapproved colchicine).[6] Roberts indicated that the price increase mirrored other approved and branded drugs that were used to treat gout pain.[7] URL Pharma returned to profitability[1] with its gout treatment branded Colcrys consisting of 72% of the companies $600 million in sales in 2011.[3] Roberts sold URL Pharma for $800 million in June 2012 to Takeda Pharmaceuticals of Japan.[3][8][9]

Political activism[edit]

Roberts is a top donor to Republican politicians including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin,[1] and Rand Paul.[10] In 2010, he gave $750,000 to the campaign of Mitt Romney.[11] In 2012, Roberts contributed $1 million to a super PAC that supported U.S. Representative Allen West.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Roberts is married with six children and lives in Lakewood, New Jersey.[1] He credits the principles of Orthodox Judaism as helping him to be a success[1] and is one of the largest philanthropists to the orthodox community in Lakewood.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mark Oppenheimer (October 16, 2014). "The Beggars of Lakewood". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  2. ^ Stewart Ain. "Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Drug company's local operations look uncertain - philly-archives". 2013-03-04. Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  4. ^ "FDA Approves Colchicine With Drug Interaction and Dose Warnings". July 2009. Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  5. ^ "Orange Book: Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations". Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  6. ^ "Questions and Answers for Patients and Healthcare Providers Regarding Single-ingredient Oral Colchicine Products". Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  7. ^ Rockoff, Jonathan D. (2010-04-12). "Gout Drug's Price Soars as Result of FDA Safety Initiative". WSJ. Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  8. ^ "Takeda to Acquire URL Pharma | Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited". Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  9. ^ Sell, David (2013-03-03). "URL Pharma may no longer be cash cow in Philadelphia | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  10. ^ "Rich Roberts, Leading Jewish Donor for Rand Paul, Switches to Scott Walker". Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  11. ^ Philadelphia Inquirer: "Campaign donor who gives a lot would like to give even more" By Maddie Hanna October 14, 2013
  12. ^ "Drug exec donates $1 million to PAC that supports West". Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  13. ^ Vega, Suzanne (2014-10-20). "Retired Multi-Millionaire Exemplifies Spirit of Generosity in Heavily Orthodox Lakewood, NJ". Retrieved 2015-09-08.