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EVP and COO, Cubist Pharmaceuticals
STARTED OUT: As a sales rep in South Central Los Angeles
WANTS TO: Ultimately be a high school basketball coach
A mere six months before Biogen's launch of Avonex, no sales plan had been written and only a skeleton crew had been put in place. But then Rob Perez and others came in and hammered out a commercial model for success.
"I had a chance to design a sales model from scratch," says Perez, who came to run Biogen's US neurology franchise. "Avonex was wildly successful—with 50 percent share in seven months—because it was as great product, but also because the commercial model we put together worked well."
When Perez came to Cubist, he had the chance to do it all over again—and this time serve as the company's top commercial exec. The drug to be launched was Cubicin, an IV antibiotic that was effective in fighting MRSA and other bugs. But Perez and his team saw an opportunity to leverage the IV drug outside the hospital—and in so doing, made Cubicin the most successful IV antibiotic launch in US history.
Cubist saw that the ex-hospital approach was working, and upped the resources to capture the opportunity. Perez credits this quick thinking to the culture. "I've always worked at companies that have had to compete with the Pfizers of the world, who outspend you every time. So I try to find people who will ask, 'What can we do better tomorrow?' And if we do our job and put the right business processes in place so that we can learn from that faster, than we can gain a competitive advantage."