Executive Vice President of Finance and Corporate Strategy, Sumitovant

Yuichi, you are the Executive Vice President of Finance and Corporate Strategy at Sumitovant. Tell us about your role in the company. What are your responsibilities?

In my role at Sumitovant, I manage the company’s finances, including financial planning, management of financial risks, and accounting and financial reporting, as well as helping the company develop and initiate plans for short- and long-term company goals. 

Who are your closest internal partners in your role?

I have various internal partners, including Myrtle Potter, our CEO, and other executive leadership team members. Second, the five vants’ leadership teams. And third, my colleagues in the Finance and Corporate Strategy Group. The company’s strategic direction is formulated and implemented by our collective efforts, and I really enjoy interactions with those close partners and I have gained new perspectives through the interactions. 

What do you think are the most significant challenges currently for the biopharma industry? What are the opportunities?

The biopharma industry is facing significant challenges to its fundamental business model: a decline in R&D productivity and growing pricing pressure. The industry would not be able to sustain sufficient innovation to replace its products and lost revenues due to patent expirations. 

However, new technological breakthroughs, such as regenerative medicine, gene therapy and immunotherapy, will become opportunities for the industry to bring further value to patients and society as a whole. Also, digital technologies will accelerate holistic care and change the patient journey. Embracing digital technologies will be the key to long-term success. 

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

Sumitovant is in a great position for success because we have two late-stage assets with great potential to address unmet medical needs, as well as novel, early-stage programs for orphan diseases and distinct digital technology platforms. I believe that society will require more comprehensive, holistic healthcare solutions, and we will be able to contribute to making it happen through collaborative work with Sumitomo Pharma as well as Roivant.

Based on your past and current experience – and the trajectory you have observed – where will the bio-pharma industry be in the next 10 to 20 years?

I expect two major shifts will take place in the healthcare industry. The first one is the greater pressure on healthcare expenditures, which will require the biopharma industry to demonstrate greater value for its innovative therapies. The second one is that a shift from treatment to prevention, diagnostics and cure will happen over time, which will require biopharma companies to evolve their business models. While the industry will continue to spend on innovative therapies, more emphasis will be placed on partnerships and collaboration, not only with other biopharma companies but also different industries.    

How will your role – and roles similar to yours – change along the way?

Given societal needs for more comprehensive, holistic healthcare, biopharma companies will be required to deliver more diversified solutions to patients and society, which will require companies’ leadership to bring more diversified perspectives.   

Is there a leader who inspires you?

A leader I respect a lot is Mr. Akira Ohgi, a former head coach of Japan Major Baseball teams. He led a relatively short life as a player, but he assumed head coach positions at several teams. He was very serious with his team players but he was a good-hearted person and excelled at maximizing the potential of various types of baseball players, including Ichiro Suzuki and Hideo Nomo, both of whom played in the U.S. MLB later. In January 1995, there the Kobe Earthquake happened with a death toll of approximately 6,400. His team – Orix Bluewave, based in Kobe – put “encouraging Kobe” as a team slogan and won the championship in 1995, which cheered up Kobe citizens’ spirits. 

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

Under the current circumstances with Covid-19, it is important to stay ahead of the curve against disease outbreaks, especially when millions of lives are potentially at risk. Both governments and industry will need to focus on preparedness and preventative measures by investing in healthcare and infrastructure. Also, making healthcare accessible to everyone is another critical matter. The difference in regulations, including regulatory filing requirements and pricing rules in different countries, would prevent the industry from bringing diversified therapies to patients, which should be addressed.    

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