At the end of last year, the pharmaceutical industry received an abundance of negative media and congressional attention for the predatory and profiteering activities of one or two companies. At the opposite end of that spectrum, however, is Delaware-based Incyte Corporation. Even as it prepares to implement plans for global expansion in the coming years, the company is dedicated to developing products that do the most good for the most people.
Dave Gryska, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Incyte, epitomizes this approach. When asked what attracted him to join the Incyte team in 2014, he points to the strength of the company’s scientific expertise and research engine, which includes immunotherapies and targeted therapies to treat cancer and other diseases. But he quickly pivots to a more philosophical answer. “We’re dedicated to developing innovative solutions for unmet medical needs and to making real differences in patients’ lives—even with diseases where they previously didn’t have any hope,” Gryska says.
To illustrate, he points to Jakafi, a medicine that was approved to treat two rare blood cancers—polycythemia vera and myelofibrosis. In addition, Incyte’s portfolio currently has thirteen development molecules against ten different targets in various stages of development.
Technology To Tame Complexity
The pharmaceutical industry faces some of the most wide-ranging and complex legal, regulatory, and quality control requirements of any business in the world. In addition to the multifaceted, multiphase processes that go into research and development (R&D) and product approvals, attention also must be paid to traditional concerns such as manufacturing and supply chain logistics, as well as Incyte’s impending global expansion. To help manage all of these concerns more efficiently and effectively, Gryska has helped lead a comprehensive initiative to upgrade the company’s entire IT system to a fully integrated Oracle platform. Everything, from its clinical trial management system and clinical development analytics to supply chain logistics and financials, has been migrated (or is in the process of migrating) to the Oracle environment.
Once fully deployed, the unified and fully transparent system will eliminate silos throughout the enterprise. It also will tremendously enhance analytics capabilities so that when Gryska drills down to compare year-over-year results, he will be better able to pinpoint the sources for changes and respond accordingly. As good as Incyte’s old system was, he says the new system will be highly customizable and provide end-to-end visibility in real time.
As a point of comparison, Gryska highlights his previous experience at a company using multiple platforms for various aspects of its financial operations. Because the different packages couldn’t communicate with each other, Oracle was used to consolidate data from them all. It was a very inefficient and time-consuming approach. “Our new IT configuration will enable us to keep looking forward. Other companies spend much of their time looking backward trying to identify problems and find solutions before the issues come up again,” he explains. “Real-world demands and our industry are always evolving, so we’ve made sure that we have the tools in place to be ahead of the curve, not behind it.”
Global Reach Equates Greater Regulatory Challenges
As Incyte pursues its goal to become one of the leading global biopharmaceutical companies, the business challenges it faces increase exponentially. For example, as complex as US regulations are, the European Union alone consists of twenty-eight different member states. In addition to language and cultural differences, each jurisdiction has its own unique statutes, regulations, and requirements from clinical thresholds to e-mail privacy standards.
European distribution also presents an entirely new playing field for the company. Rather than dealing directly with insurers and medical professionals, third-party logistics (3PL) companies take responsibility for all supply chain activities, including shipping, billing, government-run health plans, and collecting payments. Because the 3PLs and their processes, systems, and networks are well established, this approach can simplify operations. But Gryska is still faced with familiarizing himself and the company with established standards and practices. He must determine the specifics, such as which companies to work with and whether to use regional partners or align with vendors in each individual country.
Incyte has a relatively small base established in Geneva, Switzerland, but Gryska anticipates that the scope and scale of its staff and operations will increase significantly. For that reason, his focus is now on developing appropriate currency and tax strategies, and establishing the most appropriate legal entities and manufacturing resources to protect shareholder value and the efficiency of ongoing operations.
Gryska is convinced that the right internal expertise and well-thought-out tactical strategies combined with the company’s new IT systems will provide distinct advantages when it comes to maximizing business opportunities and minimizing risk. “Our operational intelligence, management, and analytics systems will all be linked together so that anyone, anywhere in the company will have access to financial details about our performance in any country where we do business, and be able to make more timely and insightful decisions,” he says.
Regardless of the challenges that Incyte’s goals of global success present, Gryska adds, “Once all of our systems are fully implemented, I expect that I will have more visibility into operations than any CFO could ever ask for.”