Beyond The Printed Page | March 25, 2019

The Keys To Success For ViiV Healthcare

Source: Life Science Leader
Rob Wright author page

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
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Deborah Waterhouse, CEO of Viiv Healthcare.

Deborah Waterhouse is the CEO of ViiV Healthcare, a 10-year old joint venture between GSK, Pfizer, and Shionogi. During an interview for an upcoming feature in Life Science Leader’s April 2019 issue, I asked her what she felt were some of the keys to the company’s success. “The first thing is having a differentiated molecule. This gave us the confidence to do a huge number of clinical studies so our customers can see exactly where it is most appropriate for use.” For example, with dolutegravir, in addition to the pivotal studies, the company did five head-to-head studies against each of its competitors in the market. “We were superior in all of those studies,” she says grinning. “Then we studied more and more difficult patient populations, so when a physician had a question about, for instance, people in less-developed countries or people with certain types of resistance, or with TB … we had the answers.”

The second key is gaining patient and customer insight to ensure an understanding of what the unmet medical need trying to be met is. “We need to be able to communicate about the medicine in a way that resonates with patients and customers,” she states. “To do this we have gone very deeply into all sorts of different research techniques to make sure those insights were clear, and that we could act on them.” The key to being able to do this is having strong relationships with the outside world. “We work closely with experts who treat HIV patients every day,” she shares. “Just as they have made HIV their life’s work, so too have we at ViiV.”

A final key is delivering on performance. Case in point, in 2016 there were indications GSK might IPO ViiV Healthcare, though while still maintaining a minority stake. “Upon reflection, I think our shareholders [GSK, Pfizer and Shionogi] decided an IPO would not be the best way to serve their long-term interests, especially given the success of the business’s fast growth,” shares Waterhouse. “Given we are a specialty business with a huge amount of dynamism and high unmet medical need, it made more sense to our shareholders to retain interest in ViiV, and I don’t see that view changing in the near future.”