Richard Baderin, Head of Commercial Enterprises at Accretio (an OPEN Health company), on making the most of your resources at work.
What is your background?
I joined GlaxoSmithKline’s commercial management fast track programme back in 2005 and from there spent a few years rotating around the business, experiencing various marketing roles across a lot of different therapy areas and going out into the field as a primary care sales rep - basically gaining a solid grounding in the UK pharma business.
From there I became GSK’s national account manager for the prescription medicine business that went through the two largest national pharmacy chains.
How was the pharmacy sector changing at that time?
It was an exciting time for the sector as the major pharmacy chains were looking to move into having relationships with their customers that were increasingly about more than just dispensing medicines.
And the new community pharmacy contract had just come in, so things like Medicines Use Reviews were being implemented and pharmacy chains were also looking to expand their services into areas such as vaccinations. At GSK we partnered with some of the national pharmacy groups to develop pharmacist-led vaccination services for their stores. So that was a really interesting period.
For the sector, there were therapy areas where pharmacy is really well placed to augment the kind of healthcare delivery that GPs and even secondary care provides. Those areas where the pharmacist is on the frontline to spot things that are flags for treatment not being optimised - respiratory inhaler technique would be a classic one. Pharmacists can also see if patients are receiving their rescue inhalers too frequently indicating a possible lack of control of their underlying respiratory condition.
How did your next role inform where you are now?
By 2009 I felt comfortable and strong in my knowledge of the UK and, as a marketer, the next obvious leap to make is to go and get some global experience. At that time GSK and Pfizer were finalising their joint venture to form ViiV Healthcare, which focuses exclusively on HIV, and I had the opportunity to join just a couple of months after it was set up.
As a global marketing manager I was looking after some of the older products within the ViiV portfolio and going from a big company at GSK to ViiV was like moving to a startup, albeit a startup with a very big parent company. In that was it was not dissimilar to Accretio, where although we’re a startup we’re also part of the well-established Open Health network of agencies.
The business was very dynamic, very fast-moving and forming at an incredible pace. The CEO, Dominique Limet, was very accessible. I remember very early in my time at ViiV, putting in front of him a proposal for how we could manage some of the established medicines to make sure our actions complemented the new medicines coming though and ensured that customers had the best opportunity to access ViiV Healthcare medicines to treat their patients. It was great being part of such a small team where senior management could directly input into your work.
From ViiV you pursued launch and prelaunch experience, how did you gain that?
In 2011 the place to go for launch experience was oncology, and it probably still is to be honest. GSK Oncology was growing at this point and I got myself into the global marketing director role within that business. There I got to work with R&D much more on Phase II studies, provide commercial input into those early studies and gain a much broader experience of the development planning for medicines and how you can make some really critical decisions on what you are going to do with medicines at that stage. It was a chance to look at how studies are set up, how evidence generation plans are formed and to plan not just for Phase II work but further ahead to Phase IIIb/IV. Because oncology was moving so fast, you make some of those decisions at quite a pace, so again it was fascinating.
That brings us to the point at which Novartis acquired GSK’s oncology business, where did that leave you?
I loved the transition. It was great moving to Novartis and helping them get set up with transferring the products, but at that time a move to New Jersey – which staying would have required – did not fit with my life, so I took the opportunity to be made redundant. That led, inevitably, to thinking: ‘What next?’ I had worked with Melissa Dagless, the founding partner at Accretio, on a couple of occasions at GSK and I thought the idea she was pursuing – building a company to breathe life into medicines sitting in nonfocus or low resource areas, by deploying external marketing, medical and market access expertise – was something that we could really make exciting. It speaks back to some of the experiences we’d had in the business at GSK, when you can really focus on a smaller opportunity to bring a bit of magic to it.
Why could brands be lacking focus or resources?
There are many reasons that medicines might not be supported - it may simply be that, although they have potential, there just isn’t the internal resource to focus on them, or they may be a little bit quirky. A general manager may look at his or her portfolio and see that the vast majority of the growth potential is in three medicines, despite there being another eight available, but he or she has to make that call for the overall good of the business. It may also be that the medicine is still a few years from launch and the immediate priorities of the day mean it is di‑fcult to fully focus on the planning that feels relatively far away.
Last year we worked with a company that had an oncology medicine, the business case for which didn’t stack up if they were to resource it themselves. The only way that they were going to invest in that medicine was through a partnership with a third party. They basically needed an extra bit of a pharma company, which is where our approach of bringing together marketing, medical, market access, sales… just the whole piece, makes sense.
What advice do you have for aspiring marketers?
There is always something from your previous role, however small, that can help you in your next. I try and reflect on the best things that have happened in my roles, or even just the best things that I’ve seen in terms of examples of best practice. Even if you can’t directly apply something at the time, it may work for a future role and could serve as a starting point when you face new challenges and scenarios.
Another important thing is to back yourself. Moving from national to regional or global roles are real sink-or-swim moments. You’ve got to be humble enough to recognise there will be periods of learning with each new role, while also believing in yourself.