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A Global PERSPECTIVE
BY KIM RIBBINK
With a diverse professional background, spanning several functions as well as several countries, Anthony Gordon Tebbutt is working to propel UCB Pharma Inc. into a billion-dollar company.
A COMPANY WITH A WORLDWIDE PRESENCE AND A PEOPLEORIENTED APPROACH TO BUSINESS NEEDS A LEADER WITH A SIMILAR POINT OF VIEW. UCB Pharma could not have found a better fit than Anthony Tebbutt, with his eclectic background and diverse corporate experience, as well as his outlook on business and life.
As president of UCB Pharma Inc., the North American pharmaceutical subsidiary of Belgium-based UCB S.A., Mr. Tebbutt oversees a company that is old and new, national and international, as well as business and community minded. With head-quarters in Brussels, UCB has total sales of about $2.5 billion and employs more than 10,000 people worldwide in 100 countries. The dominant part of UCB’s business is pharmaceuticals, though the company also has a substantial chemicals business and a film-wrapping business.
Though UCB Pharma has only had a presence in the United States for about eight years, the parent company this year celebrates its 75th anniversary. “Many people in the U.S. don’t realize that UCB has this heritage,” Mr. Tebbutt says.
Diversity ACROSS THE BOARD
The company’s European heritage is a perfect complement for its U.S. president, who has vast experience in the pharmaceutical industry — 27 years in total — and diverse professional and life experiences. Mr. Teb butt grew up in Hong Kong, went to English schools, attended college in California and Australia, and has worked in Canada, England, and the United States.
“In any career, it’s important to seek diversity in functional experi ence, for example in sales, marketing, and finance,” he says. “Then it’s equally important that cultural diversity is obtained. I had the opportunity to gain both functional and cultural experience from the companies that I have worked with, starting in Canada with Eli Lilly. Since most companies in Canada are smaller, they don’t have the resources of big pharma, which means it’s necessary to wear many different hats and learn different functions in a compressed timeframe. Later, I had the opportunity to have an expatriate experience in England with Syntex, which taught me a great deal about understanding different cultures. It’s important not to make value judgments, but to accept that those differences exist. That experience certainly helped me greatly in working for the U.S. affiliate of a Belgian company.”
Above all, Mr. Tebbutt believes his experiences at Eli Lilly and at Syntex, where he spent much of his professional life, exposed him to values that have guided him throughout his career and garnered him a good network of colleagues and friends, not only in the United States but across the world.
Mr. Tebbutt became invested in the pharmaceutical industry after completing his MBA at Stanford. During the recruitment process, he was drawn to Eli Lilly.
“As I investigated the company I found out that it was really a first class organization,” he says.
Eli Lilly offered the young graduate an opportunity to go to Toronto and work with the VP of finance in what Mr. Tebbutt describes as a real ly great entry-level position.
“I was going to have a chance to work with a lot of the senior management, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to gain some insight into the industry,” he says.
After Lilly, Mr. Tebbutt moved to Syntex, working in Canada, the United Kingdom, and finally the United States. After the sale of Syntex to Roche, Mr. Tebbutt took a brief sabbatical from the pharmaceutical industry, spending a year at a food company. The professional opportunity of a lifetime — to take the helm at UCB Pharma Inc. — presented itself in 1996.
The thrill of working in healthcare, Mr. Tebbutt says, is the positive impact that therapies can have on an individual’s health and quality of life. The concern, he says, is that despite the development of life-altering products, the industry continues to battle a poor public image.
“Health is considered to be a right, and it really isn’t a right in the sense that somebody has to pay for those resources that go into providing the benefit, and there has to be some commercial incentive for that to happen.”
He notes that too much emphasis is placed on the cost of drugs and not enough on the benefits.
“Take, for example, our epilepsy drug Keppra,” he says. “How can you put a cost on seizure control and quality of life? If we can come out with drugs that impact a patient’s life positively, it’s difficult then to argue about the cost of medication. What I find personally satisfying is the opportunity to provide leadership, to mentor an outstanding team of people, and to be in an industry that provides a true social benefit.”
What I find personally satisfying is the opportunity to provide leadership, to mentor an outstanding team of people,and to be in an industry that provides a true social benefit.
HISTORY OF Achievement
UCB was formed in 1928 by Baron Emmanuel Janssen, starting out as a chemical company, branching into the packaging film business, then becoming involved in the pharmaceutical industry. During World War II, the company manufactured products such as calcium, vitamins, phosphates, and insulin, and began focusing on original research after the war. In 1994, UCB acquired Whitby Pharmaceuticals and Northampton Medical Inc. to create UCB Pharma Inc. The U.S. company now employs about 650 people and in 2001 had sales of $400 mil lion. In 1996, Mr. Tebbutt joined UCB Pharma Inc. as president.
Later this year, UCB reaches a significant milestone — 75 years in business. UCB’s global headquarters in Brussels will organize a reception at UCB Center with an open-door weekend. In the United States, the company plans to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony of its new North American head-quarter building in Smyrna, Ga., on May 9. A second celebration will take place in June with UCB’s field sales personnel at the company’s national sales meeting in Orlando, Fla.
“We entered the U.S. marketplace eight years ago and today we’re already the leading affiliate in the UCBworld,” he says. “We’ve realized double-digit growth for the past six years and tremendous growth in revenue.” As president, Mr. Tebbutt has helped steer that success with several key initiatives and is responsible for the sale of all UCB products with in the United States. The first initiative has been the co-promotion of the antihistamine Zyrtec — which came out of UCB’s research pipeline — with Pfizer Inc.
“To enter the United States, it made a lot of sense for UCB to partner with a large pharmaceutical company that had the promotional weight required to combat the competition in the antihistamine market, and here Pfizer shines,” Mr. Tebbutt says. “Last year, Zyrtec exceeded $1 billion in sales for the first time, so it’s truly one of the mega products in the U.S. marketplace.”
Recognizing that like all pharmaceutical companies, UCB needed to organically develop products as well as enter into collaborative agreements, Mr. Tebbutt negotiated a co-promotion deal with Alza (now a division of Johnson & Johnson) for the rights to Ditropan XL, which is indicated for the treatment of overactive bladder. UCB also has entered a co-promotion agreement with Elan Pharmaceuticals for Frova, a migraine treatment.
“We’re very interested in continuing to grow our partnerships and collaborations in this country with other organizations, so we’re constantly looking for business development opportunities,” Mr. Tebbutt says.
Another one of the company’s growth strategies has been to branch out on its own with products developed in house, and the company has achieved this with its epilepsy drug Keppra (levetiracetam).
“We launched the product in 2000 on our own, and we’ve had considerable success in the epilepsy market,” Mr. Tebbutt says. “UCB has its own CNS salesforce and the company now is one of the leaders in the epilepsy segment.”
The R&D Equation
UCB FOCUSES ITS RESEARCH ON TWO THERAPEUTIC CATE GORIES: ALLERGY/RESPIRATORY DISEASES, SUCH AS ASTHMA OR RHINITIS, AND DISORDERS OF THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS), FOR EXAMPLE, EPILEPSY.
UCB’s Global Research group has two main centers, one in Brussels, Belgium,and an additional site in Cambridge,Mass.
During its history, the R&D group has discovered and developed a range of first and second generation antihistamines. The major drugs in this series of compounds being Atarax (hydroxyzine),a non benzodiazepenic tranquilizer; Zyrtec (cetirizine);and, more recently, Xyzal (levocetirizine).
A follow-up molecule, efletirizine, is in Phase III clinical development.
UCB’s antiallergic drug franchise is well established since ceti rizine has become the leading molecule in this class worldwide.This class of drugs is very effective for the treatment of allergic diseases, such as seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, and chronicidiopath ic urticaria.
UCB Pharma also is active in CNS research, and one of the company’s first major drugs, Nootropil (piracetam),was the first in a novel class of CNS acting agents that became known as nootropics. The pharmacology of Nootropil is expanding even today as the molecule is subjected to continued research.
More recently, UCB Pharma has discovered, developed, and marketed an original molecule, Keppra (levetiracetam), for the treatment of epileptic seizures. Currently, UCB is evaluating this molecule for its broad spectrum of activity. Unlike most other antiepileptics, it is characterized by low toxicity and very high therapeutic index.
Keppra was launched in the UnitedStates in April 2000 as adjunctive therapy for partial seizures in adults with epilepsy.
UCB’s research group is committed to the expansion of its technology base and novel target identification via innovative cell biology approaches, gene regulation strategies, and novel gene identification.In this field,UCB R&Dc loosely collaborates with university and private research laboratories worldwide.
Research collaborations have been initiated with Genfit in Lille, France,Gene Logic Inc. in Gaithersburg,Md.,and BioFocus in the United Kingdom for the discovery of novel gene targets and compounds using functional genomics, proteomics,and nuclear transcription factors.
UCB’s Major Products
UCB Pharma’s two major areas of development are in the fields of allergy/respiratory diseases and central nervous system disorders.
Zyrtec (cetirizine): Seasonal allergic rhinitis
Xyzal (levocetirizine): Perennial allergic rhinitis; chronic idiopathic urticaria
ZyrtecD/Cirrus (cetirizine and pseudoephedrine): Seasonal allergic rhinitis; perennial allergic rhinitis
Keppra (levetiracetam): Addon treatment for partial onset seizures in adults
Nootropil (piracetam): Cognitive enhancer; cortical myoclonus;sickle form anemia
Somatostatinucb (somatostatin): Acute gastrointestinal hemorrhage;intestinal and pancreatic fistula
Note: The medicinal products listed are not available on all markets worldwide. Moreover,currently registered indications of these products may differ from country to country. Zyrtec, ZyrtecD/Cirrus, Xyzal, Keppra, Nootropil, and Somatostatinucb are trademarks of the UCB Group. Source: UCB Pharma
Goals AND PHILOSOPHIES
With a focus predominantly on two therapeutic areas — allergy/asthma and CNS — UCB Pharma has promising compounds under investigation. UCB Pharma has a compound in the asthma/allergy arena in Phase I trials and also has some followup compounds to Keppra.
“Zyrtec and Keppra have a great deal of potential remaining in their commercial lifecycle,” Mr. Tebbutt says. “We still have some good patent life, so we’ll continue to develop our line extensions and our new indications in both of these arenas.”
UCB Pharma’s discoveries also have included two antihistamines that were licensed to Pfizer in the United States. They are hydroxyzine, which is marketed under the Pfizer trade names Atarax and Vistaril, and meclizine, marketed under the Pfizer trade names Bonine and Antivert.
Under Mr. Tebbutt’s leadership, UCB Pharma also has set itself some aggressive goals for growth.
“My top management team and I have developed a set of strategic goals, which we have named B3B — bound for $1 billion in three ways — which we aim to achieve by 2007,” he says. “The first billion dollars, or B1, was to reach $1 billion in sales in our allergy franchise in the United States, which we already have achieved with Zyrtec. The second billion dollars, the B2, is to attain $1 billion in Keppra sales worldwide — $600 million annually in the United States — and become a leading second generation anti-epileptic. The B3 is to hit $1 billion in overall sales for UCB Pharma in the United States.”
Mr. Tebbutt explains that although Zyrtec itself has reached $1 billion in sales, Pfizer books the Zyrtec sales in this country.
It is an ambitious target, but one that Mr. Tebbutt and his team clearly believe they can achieve. Where UCB Pharma is at an advantage is with its corporate culture, which has been described as people oriented. But Mr. Tebbutt is quick to point out that this doesn’t mean gushy management with low expectations and soft standards.
“People orientation means high performance, as well as listening to our employees, and providing open doors at all levels of management,” he says. “We have a small enough population at UCB that all of our senior managers — as well as the most junior person — are known and recognized for their contributions. I speak to every sales class that comes through this company. It’s not unusual for me to mentor sales representatives, administrative assistants, and VPs.”
Mr. Tebbutt says his goal is to encourage employees at UCB Pharma to grow further than they might otherwise were he not at the helm.
“I’d like to encourage our people to stretch to the limit of their capabilities,” he says. “I want them to have very high expectations, to know that I have high expectations of them, and that I’ll give them honest and sometimes tough feedback.”
ANTHONY GORDON TEBBUTT — RESUME
1996 — PRESENT. President, UCB Pharma Inc. UCB Pharma,with U.S.headquarters in Atlanta, is an emerging midsize pharmaceutical company.
1995-1996. VP, sales and marketing, flavors, International Flavors and Fragrances, South Brunswick,N.J.
1995.VP,new product planning, Syntex, Palo Alto,Calif.
1994-1995.VP, pharmaceutical marketing, Syntex,Palo Alto, Calif.
1993-1994.Director,therapy area planning, Syntex,Palo Alto,Calif.
1989-1993.VP,sales, Syntex, Palo Alto,Calif.
1987-1989. Director, marketing and sales, Syntex Pharmaceuti cals, Maidenhead,England.
1983-1987.VP,marketing and sales, Syntex Inc.,Ontario,Canada.
1974-1983. Marketing manager, Eli Lilly Canada Inc., Toronto, Canada.
1974. MBA,Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford,Calif.
1972. B.Sc. (Cum Laude), commerce, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Calif.; Dean’s Honor List, Beta Gamma Sigma Honor’s fraternity.
BOARDS Member Board of Directors,Georgia Biomedical Partnership.
I make sure that I’ve had the opportunity to interact with every sales class. It’s not unusual for me to mentor sales representatives, administrative assistants, and VPs.
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IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PHARMAVOICE, ANTHONY TEBBUTT, PRESIDENT OF UCB PHARMA INC.,TALKS ABOUT WHAT INSPIRES HIM AND THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE INFLUENCED HIM.
WHAT IN THE INDUSTRY MOST INSPIRES YOU?
Every now and then I get unsolicited letters from patients telling me how their life has been altered by one of our drugs. And for every letter that I receive there must be 1,000 letters out there that weren’t written. I find this feedback very gratifying. It does inspire me to continue to work in an industry that provides products that improve the quality of life for so many people. A lady wrote me about her husband, who was in the landing in Normandy who had been hit by shrapnel and thereafter suffered epilepsy. For all those years their lives had been affected. He started taking Keppra, our product for epilepsy.
We were fortunate that Keppra was able to provide him with relief. She was so thrilled that our product had given him anew lease on life. It was such a nice letter that it almost brought tears to my eyes.
ARE THERE PEOPLE EITHER WITHIN THE INDUSTRY OR IN OTHER PARTS OFYOUR LIFE WHO HAVE HAD A STRONG INFLUENCE ON YOU AND THE PROFESSIONAL CHOICES YOU HAVE MADE? Whatever industry you go into, whatever job you go into, that very first boss that you have has a profound effect on your outlook, your work, and your value system.TheVP of finance at Eli Lilly when I first started was Murray Mills; I thought he was a very wise man.He was a great teacher, and he set me on the right path.
In business school I was very much impressed by Buck Rogers who was the former VP of sales at IBM in the days of Big Blue. He spoke at one of my classes, and I enjoyed listening to him so much that years later I found him and had him speak to my sales-management team at Syntex.After the talk,he stayed and mixed with staff and people were just taken with the man.
WHAT AREAS OF MANAGE MENTOR INFORMATION ABOUT MANAGEMENT DO YOU FIND MOTIVATIONAL?
There is a book called the “Tao of Leadership”by John Heider,which offered some principles of leadership.The Buck Rogers’ book “Getting the Best” inspired me because I like the man’s philosophies. I really love teaching,so I’m about to write a book about management in the pharmaceutical industry. I don’t think there’s enough information out there for young professionals. I’ve collected notes over the years, as well as articles, but what I’m particularly interested in is telling stories. I think that’s an effective way to relate lessons and events.
ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH ANY PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS? I recently joined the Georgia Biomedical Partnership — I’m on the board. I’m really looking forward to participating with this group because the purpose of the partnership is to grow the healthcare industry in the state of Georgia.We have several small companies here — a young thriving base — and I think there’s great opportunity for expansion and attraction of new companies to the greater Atlanta area.