Eric Babineaux has always had a fascination with the world of medicine. Growing up, he had astigmatism and, misunderstanding the diagnosis, he worried he’d lose his vision. His childhood plan was to become a doctor so he could find a way to prevent what he thought was his impending blindness. But dissecting an animal in high school biology made it clear that practicing medicine was not his calling.
However, law—it turned out—was. After earning his JD from Wake Forest School of Law, Babineaux was still determined to work in the healthcare industry. “I had to work really hard to get into the industry. I got my law license when the job market was at a low point for new attorneys, but I had my mind set on what I wanted to do and mapped out a plan to get me there,” he recalls.
Now, as director and senior corporate counsel at BioCryst Pharmaceuticals in Durham, North Carolina, he says his dream of helping people has been realized. “I got involved with BioCryst because of what they are doing for patients with rare and serious diseases. It was an opportunity to leverage my legal training to make a positive impact on people’s lives—a chance to know what I was doing was making a difference.”
On the way up, he gained valuable insights into several of the industry’s facets. Early on in his career, Babineaux worked with a global contract research organization (CRO) where he managed a portfolio of global contracts for various pharmaceutical partners. He credits this time with exposing him to the industry and providing an opportunity to cut his teeth in the contract negotiation space. However, he was quickly recruited to join a small boutique CRO that specialized in study start-up, site payments, and site contract negotiations for global clinical trials.
“I got a chance to step in at an early stage and work not just as a partner in study start-up with our clients, but also on the business side of the company,” he says.
When his company was acquired, its general counsel and much of the original leadership team departed. “I was able to step into that role as lead counsel for what became a division of the new parent company. I learned a lot in that leadership role,” Babineaux says.
In 2021, he joined BioCryst, whose commitment to supporting patients with rare and serious diseases resonated with him. Today, Babineaux manages the contracts department within the legal team and supports the international commercial team to put in place supply and distribution agreements with partners around the globe to create pathways for access to BioCryst’s products to patients that did not previously have access to them.
“Working at BioCryst and supporting our international commercial team has been such a rewarding experience. It’s rare to get the chance to do something that you know is helping to improve people’s lives,” he says.
The agreements he works on affect several cross-functional business units and cover a range of complex subjects. “I work closely with the impacted business units to make sure that any deal or partnership we enter into is aligned with our company goals, mission, and business processes,” he explains. “Working as a team is essential to negotiating these agreements because so many of the company’s units are impacted.”
While Babineaux is responsible for negotiating the terms and conditions and the legal issues of the partnership agreement, he credits the full team, along with the network of outside and local counsel that support them, for the success they’ve had over last two years. “Each person representing their respective business unit involved in these deals is incredible at what they do and brings to the table the experience and expertise necessary to help close the deal,” he affirms.
His regard for teamwork comes from his involvement in sports, which began at an early age and continues to this day on a local soccer team. “I learned from a very early age that to be effective as a team, you have to work together and support one another. Communication is essential to success,” he says.
Sports also taught him resilience. “So many times in life you get knocked down; things don’t go your way. But you can either give up, or you can pick yourself up and keep trying.”
Babineaux and his wife, Cathy, have a two-year-old son and the perspective that family life has given him reaffirms his commitment to making a difference. “I want to do work that I’m proud of and that one day he’ll be proud of,” he explains. “You get to parenthood, and you realize you want to have more of an impact outside yourself, help other people—to do something bigger than yourself.”
Supporting BioCryst’s commercial team to make its products available in markets that don’t currently have access to them has brought Babineaux full circle to his youthful ambition, he says. “It’s a little bit of me realizing the dream of making a difference.”