Adele Gulfo

Chief Business and Commercial Development Officer, Sumitovant

Adele, you are the Chief Business and Commercial Development Officer at Sumitovant. Tell us about your role.

At the moment, it is a bit complicated. Let me explain. I am currently serving as the interim chief commercial officer for Myovant. We had a departure in early May, so as a board member I stepped in to support the company. These are busy times for Myovant. One of our products for the treatment of prostate cancer received FDA priority status. We also have a product for the treatment of fibroids that has an action date of six months later, which is very exciting.

At the same time, I’ve kept my role as chief business and commercial development officer at Sumitovant. Our commercial development team is doing excellent work in support of our five subsidiaries, which we call the “vants.” In addition to Myovant, there is Urovant, Altavant, Spirovant, and Enzyvant. Urovant has a product for overactive bladder with a projected launch early next year. Enzyvant is developing transformative therapies for people with devastating rare diseases. My team and I support and guide the vants with market readiness and launch preparation as well as business development.  

In my role as head of business development for Sumitovant, we look to bring new assets into the pipeline that have the potential to treat diseases with high unmet need. In addition to the promising products currently in our pipeline, we are constantly looking for new assets. We do so by leveraging technology in novel ways to make us faster and smarter about the type of partnership we execute. There are also a number of assets in the Roivant family that Sumitovant has the opportunity to in-license.

My day-to-day duties are consequently split three ways: working as the CCO at Myovant; commercial readiness across the vants, and the work at Sumitovant, which includes thinking about assets we may want to bring in and which assets don’t fit us anymore that we may want to out-license.

What’s your favorite part of the job and what are the challenges?

I very much enjoy the work of late-stage clinical development, commercial preparation for launch and most of all, bringing new medicines to market. I enjoy working directly with the teams and I am very hands on. I like getting into the details of the launch, such as figuring out the physician segments, patient segments, and how to maximize the launch, so that patients have the opportunity to access the product and benefit from its value and impact on their wellbeing.

The challenge is that we are a very diverse company in that we are a subsidiary of Sumitomo Pharma and then we in turn have five subsidiaries. It may seem to be a complex management structure. In my role, I always try to take complexity out so that people inside the operating company don’t see these complexities.

In your opinion, what is the biggest impact Sumitovant will have on patients and the world?

I think the biggest impact we can have is bringing our important medicines to patients. Whether it’s cancer, women’s health, rare diseases, or any other type of condition or disease our scientists are looking into. In the near future, we have a chance to change paradigms for diseases with high unmet needs. It’s one thing to have these drugs in development, it’s another to bring them to market in the most effective way, so that more patients have access to them and can benefit from them.

How will biopharma companies change over the next 10, 20 years?

I’ve been in this business for over 30 years and our industry has constantly evolved and it will continue to evolve. Covid has leapfrogged some of that. One example is the digital space. We went from slowly evolving our use of digital capabilities, to leapfrogging them almost overnight. These days, everything is virtual. We can now also reach more and more patients with social media. We can do so much more in the digital space. Covid has taught us a lot about working remotely and communicating through virtual channels. That will definitely translate into telemedicine. Salesforces have also evolved to be more and more virtual.

What is your vision for commercialization, getting therapies to patients?

Leveraging data and technology wherever possible. We are now seeing more and more electronic health records that are part of integrated systems. This leads to much more clarity about diagnostics and medical and prescription information. The more information we have, the more rapid and accurate decisions we can make. Which populations have more side effects or show more efficacy? This means we can potentially skip some populations that may not benefit from a certain treatment and go right to those in which it is effective. The goal is to accurately predict which drugs work in which populations.

In your opinion, what’s the most pressing societal issue we are facing in healthcare these days?

I think the biggest challenges we currently have are pharmaceutical prices and access. We all want medical innovation, but that costs a lot of money. We have to make sure that pharmaceutical companies are accurately and fairly reimbursed for what they spend on novel medicines. And we also have to ask us how we ensure that all patients have access. I still do not have an answer for that. It really is a big issue.

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