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John Gargiulo, Daiichi Sankyo’s new President and CEO, discusses the future opportunities for the company and the industry.
Keeping the Patient Front and Center
PV: What are your goals for Daiichi Sanyko? Gargiulo: The healthcare industry is currently experiencing unprecedented challenges and opportunities. I am excited to lead DSI through this new environment by continuing to build on our successes and by fostering a vision of operational excellence among our employees that will continue to drive our growth. We will continue to maintain our focus in the therapeutic areas of cardiovascular/metabolic and oncology. In fact, our lead compounds in cardiovascular and oncology are currently in Phase III trials. Our global strategy is to be first or best-in-class in the drugs we bring to market and to ensure that our research is focused on offering patients and society clear benefits over existing therapies. Moving forward, we will strive to communicate the benefits of our approved products to our customers through operational excellence across our organization. PV: What do you hope to accomplish in the first 90 days of your leadership? Gargiulo: I am asking every employee to remain focused on the fact that the ultimate customer we serve is the patient. To address unmet medical patient needs, we must focus our energies on driving innovation. Only those companies that can continue to innovate — not only in their product offerings, but in all aspects of their business — will succeed. We must continue to be passionate about innovation, and we must be passionate about patients. At DSI, our employees hold themselves and each other accountable for fulfilling the work that will drive our business forward while adhering to the highest ethical standards. Remaining focused on who we serve is the key to our success. PV: What is your management style and how will it be different from your predecessor? Gargiulo: For the past 15 years, I have had the privilege to work alongside Joe Pieroni as we grew the company from just 25 people to 3,000. During this time, I have touched nearly every aspect of our business operations, from sales and pipeline, to business development and the payer environment. Having an operational background, I believe I have a strong attention to detail and process that is necessary for success in today’s highly scrutinized and regulated pharmaceutical industry. My marketing background will prove to be an important asset, not only in relation to the commercialization of our products, but in supporting employees’ creativity. PV: What has been the most challenging assignment of your career to date and why? Gargiulo: There have been many challenges throughout my career, and when I look back, I know all of them have helped define and shape who I am today. While one of the most significant challenges I took on was the merger of our company from a joint venture with Parke-Davis to our current commercial organization, the most challenging assignment I took on started with my decision to start my career as a sales representative. After receiving my MBA, I could have gone into a more traditional finance position or consumer marketing, but I chose to build a career in this industry. I picked pharmaceuticals because I wanted to make a difference and have a real ability to do something that made an impact on people’s lives. Being a sales rep taught me a great deal about myself and the industry. It wasn’t about generating prescriptions, running speaker programs, or delivering samples. It was about patients — and I liked that aspect of the job. I learned how to communicate effectively, think creatively, be humble, and to embrace the unknown. Learning flexibility was very challenging, but I had to embrace it if I was going to be successful and persevere. PV: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the industry today? Gargiulo: Despite having one of the highest-quality healthcare systems in the world, millions of Americans still do not have full access to quality, affordable healthcare. Reform was clearly needed and is the single most pressing issue for our industry. To be successful, we must do things differently from they were done before and we will need to adapt to the challenges of the post-healthcare reform environment. The future of the industry depends on our continued ability to develop the innovative new products to meet unmet medical needs. Any developments that negatively impact our ability to fund costly innovation to produce new therapies for unmet medical needs will have negative consequences for our industry and, therefore, for society. It’s important that healthcare reform policy continue to foster a more favorable environment for innovation, as well as beginning a national dialogue about how to sustain continued leaps in medical knowledge. It is shortsighted to view medicines as simply a cost, rather than a savings. Medicines play an important role in helping control overall healthcare costs. PV: Has there been a defining moment in the industry for you? Gargiulo: Healthcare reform is and will continue to be the defining moment for the pharmaceutical industry — and the healthcare community at large. As policymakers continue to grapple with ways to address increasing budget deficits and achieve fiscal stability, it’s critical to recognize the significant value that our innovative pharmaceutical sector can provide to our nation’s economic health. From patent reform and Medicare Part D to reimbursement issues and biosimilars, reform will impact all areas of our healthcare delivery system. PV: What issue outside of the industry most concerns you? Gargiulo: The only way our industry can continue to help improve the lives of patients is if we continue to innovate through science and discovery. It’s the core of what we do. Investing today in science and math education — beginning with children in grade school — are investments that will lead toward meeting the medical challenges of the 21st century. As the demand for science professionals continues to increase, we have to give students the tools to succeed. Setting this precedent reinforces our commitment to ensuring that science will remain a key priority in our nation’s education system.