Careers at Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences’ mission is to advance the care of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases worldwide.
By the time he was 29, Michael Riordan had medical degrees from Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University. His next step was to spend a year working at Menlo Ventures in order to better comprehend venture capitalism. The seemingly strange move had a purpose – Riordan wanted to launch a pharmaceutical firm and knew the ability to obtain funding would be essential.
Riordan then founded Gilead Sciences in 1987. Its purpose would be to research anti-viral drugs, a goal driven by Riordan’s past contraction of dengue fever in the Philippines. The firm’s focus would be treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, most notably HIV. Its name was a reference to the “balm of Gilead” in the ancient Middle East, considered the world’s first pharmaceutical product.
In 1988 Riordan used his financing knowledge to raise $2 million from his venture capitalist sources. Gilead then expanded its focus to include drugs for cancer and cardiovascular disease. Its research targeted anti-sense products, which could block the genetic messages that trigger disease. While the area was promising from an efficacy perspective, its financial promise was uncertain.
Over the next few years Riordan was able to raise tens of millions of dollars in additional investments, but Gilead Sciences did not generate any revenues until 1991, when it earned $1.3 million. It also secured funding from Glaxo Holdings to develop genetic code-blockers to fight cancer. In 1992 it completed an initial public offering, raising $86.3 million in extra dollars.
While it was flush with cash, Gilead still had not introduced its first product. At the time, most of its revenue came from projects conducted jointly with other firms, such as its cancer work with Glaxo. However, later in 1992, it filed a new drug application with the Food and Drug Administration for a compound branded Vistide, designed to treated CMV retinis (an eye disease) in AIDS patients.
In 1995, after having spent $93 million on pharmaceutical research and development, it applied for approval of the product from the Food and Drug Administration. Approval was granted in 1996, and Vistide went on the market. It proved to be highly effective, and the firm’s revenues skyrocketed with the success of its first hit treatment. Gilead was finally seen as a legitimate drug developer.
Benefits at Gilead Sciences
Business model of Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customer groups. The company targets its offerings at anyone suffering from various life-threatening conditions.
Gilead Sciences offers three primary value propositions: innovation, cost reduction, and brand/status.
The company creates accessibility by providing a wide variety of options. It maintains a portfolio of 22 marketed products and a pipeline of investigational drugs that treat a broad range of conditions: HIV/AIDS, liver diseases, cancer, inflammatory and respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular conditions.
The company has embraced innovation throughout its history. Its groundbreaking efforts include:
- The first complete treatment regimens for HIV infection and chronic hepatitis C infection available in once-daily single pills
- The first oral antiretroviral pill available to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV infection in certain high-risk adults
The company reduces cost by providing discounts for certain customer groups. It operates various patience assistance programs, which help make its therapies more accessible and affordable for uninsured patients and those in need of financial assistance. These programs include: U.S. Advancing Access, Truvada for PrEP Medication Assistance Program, GileadSolutions, Cayston Access Program, Ranexa Connect, SupportPath for Sovaldi and Harvoni, and Zydelig AccessConnect. Gilead Sciences also supports programs for individuals unable to afford the co-payments associated with health insurance programs. For example, it works with state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) to offer lower pricing for its HIV medicines.
The company has established a strong brand due to its success. It is one of the largest biopharmaceutical firms in the world, with revenues of $32.6 billion in 2015. It maintains operations in over 30 countries and employs 8,000 individuals across six continents. Its research and development initiatives include over 400 planned and ongoing clinical studies assessing compounds with the potential to become effective medicines. Lastly, it has won a number of honors, including #2 placement on the Barron’s 500, recognition as one of the Most Innovative Companies of 2015 by Fast Company, and ranking as #1 on Business Insider’s list of the top companies to work for based on how meaningful employees find their work.
Gilead Sciences’ main channel is its commercial direct sales team. It also sells its products through third-party distributors, wholesalers (including McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen), and corporate partners. The company promotes its offering through its website and social media pages.
Gilead Sciences’ customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees. That said, there is a personal assistance component in the form of phone and e-mail support.
Gilead Sciences’ business model entails designing, developing, and marketing its medicines to its customers. It manufactures some of its products, though the majority is produced by third parties.
Gilead Sciences’ key partners are as follows:
- Manufacturers – The third-party manufacturers that it contracts with to produce the majority of its active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and solid dose products. It also depends on its corporate partners to manufacture some of its products.
- Distributors – The third-party distributors, wholesalers, and corporate partners the company utilizes to sell its products in order to expand its reach.
- Research Partners – The academic institutions, biotechnology firms, and pharmaceutical firms the company collaborates with to develop new, innovative therapeutics. Specific partners include BMS, Janssen, and Japan Tobacco.
Lastly, Gilead Sciences supports investigator-sponsored research carried out by third parties on its products or within therapeutic areas of interest to the company. It believes these studies can provide valuable information regarding the efficacy, safety, pharmacology, and tolerability of its offerings. Organizations interested in conducting the research can apply for a grant from the firm.
Gilead Sciences’ main resources are its human resources, namely the research scientists who design and develop its therapeutic products, and the sales personnel that market them. The company also depends on a handful of manufacturing facilities that it owns or leases in California, Canada, and Ireland for the production of certain products and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Gilead Sciences has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through low-price value propositions. Due to government regulation involving reimbursement, a significant portion of its products are subject to substantial discounts and rebate obligations.
Its major drivers are in the areas of research/development, sales/marketing, and administration, all fixed expenses.
Gilead Sciences has two revenue streams: product revenues and royalty/contract/other revenues.
info: John F. Milligan earned a B.A. at Ohio Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Illinois. He previously held several leadership positions at Gilead, including Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
info: John C. Martin earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at Purdue University, a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Chicago, and an MBA at Golden Gate University. He previously served as President, Chairman, and CEO of Gilead Sciences.
info: Norbert W. Bischofberger earned a Master's degree in Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Zurich’s Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. He previously served as a Senior Scientist in Genentech’s DNA Synthesis Group.
info: Robin L. Washington earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Michigan and an MBA at Pepperdine University. She previously served as Chief Financial Officer of Hyperion Solutions and as Corporate Controller at PeopleSoft.
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