10 Things You Didn’t Know about Daniel O’Day

Daniel O'Day

Daniel O’Day is both the CEO and the Chairman of the Board for Gilead Sciences. For those who are unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences is a U.S.-based corporation that creates and commercializes pharmaceutical products. In particular, it specializes in antiviral drugs for influenza, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, meaning that it has been a subject of interest for the news in recent times.

1. Has Some Irish Heritage

Perhaps unsurprisingly, O’Day has some Irish heritage. After all, the O in Irish surnames means “descendant,” thus enabling it to be compared and contrasted with Mac meaning “son.” Regardless, O’Day is a third-generation Irish-American born in the state of Texas who still has some paternal relatives living in Ireland’s Ennis, Clare County.

2. Feels Inspired By His Irish Ancestors

In any case, O’Day being Irish-American is relevant because he has stated that the perseverance of his Irish ancestors has inspired him in both a personal sense and a professional sense. It is unclear what specific examples that he has in mind. However, there can be no doubt about the fact that a lot of Irish immigrants to the United States faced considerable challenges.

3. His First Job Was Landscaping

It is interesting to note that O’Day’s very first job was landscaping. Amusingly, he has stated that was what convinced him to pursue higher education, so it seems safe to say that he didn’t enjoy the experience all that much.

4. Studied Biology At Georgetown University

Eventually, O’Day studied biology at Georgetown University, which is situated in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood. Some people might suspect that the neighborhood was named for George Washington. However, it should be mentioned that the founding of Georgetown predated the founding of Washington, D.C. by about four decades’ time. Instead, some people think that the neighborhood was named for George II of Great Britain, while other people think that the neighborhood was named for its founders George Gordon and George Beall. In any case, O’Day studied biology when he was at Georgetown University, which was a very appropriate choice considering his subsequent career.

5. Studied Business Administration At Columbia University

Later, O’Day studied business administration at the graduate level at Columbia University, which can be found in New York City. This is wholly unsurprising because it is very common for people who want to head into management to study for a MBA. Something that can be very important because running a business requires a number of specialized skills.

6. Joined Up with Roche

In time, O’Day joined up with Roche, which refers to a Swiss multinational called Hoffmann-La Roche for its founder Fritz Hoffman-La Roche. Those who are curious should know that Roche specializes in healthcare, as shown by how its two main units are focused on pharmaceuticals and diagnostics respectively. Having said that, it is important to note that Roche is one of the biggest names in the pharmaceuticals market, not least because it controls a number of other companies in other countries. One excellent example would be Genentech in the United States, while another excellent example would be Chugai Pharmaceuticals in Japan. In total, O’Day spent three decades at Roche, with the result that he held a wide range of positions with a wide range of responsibilities in its operations.

7. Headed Up Tamiflu

For instance, O’Day was once the individual responsible for overseeing Tamiflu, which would be the brand name of the medication oseltamivir. Generally speaking, it is used to treat influenza caused by both the influenza A and influenza B viruses in people who are at high risk but not people who are at low risk. There are a number of reasons why people who are at low risk tend not to be prescribed Tamiflu, with examples ranging from its cost and its side effects to the fear that unnecessary use of the medication could cause viruses to become resistant. Something that would erode Tamiflu’s usefulness in combating influenza.

8. Was the Roche CEO When He Was Recruited to Become the Gilead CEO

When O’Day was recruited to become the new CEO of Gilead, he was already the CEO of Roche. At the time, it was speculated that O’Day’s extensive experience with cancer medications would be used to take Gilead in a new direction. Something that was necessary because said company’s hepatitis medications were becoming less and less profitable thanks to more and more competition on top of more and more patients becoming cured.

9. Interested in Acquisitions

Unsurprisingly, O’Day has been very interested in new acquisitions. This is very common for pharmaceutical executives for a number of reasons. For example, some pharmaceutical companies use acquisitions as a way to make themselves more innovative, which can be very important because of the price differences between patented drugs and generic drugs. Likewise, other pharmaceutical companies use acquisitions because of the potential synergies between their operations and their acquisitions’ operations, thus enabling more progress than otherwise possible.

10. There Was Enormous Interest in Remdesivir

In recent times, there was enormous interest in Gilead’s remdesivir, which was considered as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Due to this, there were some pretty dramatic movements in the company’s stock price because of people betting on its promise. Currently, it remains unclear whether remdesivir is effective for COVID-19 or not. However, it has definitely lost some of its shine. This is because there was an initial report that seemed promising, which doesn’t seem to have been borne out by subsequent studies. Still, it is important to note that the actual effectivenss of remdesivir for treating COVID-19 hasn’t been determined at this point in time, though that hasn’t prevented Gilead’s stock price from seeing further dramatic changes because a wide range of news agencies jumped on the reveal to get it out to interested individuals as fast as possible.


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