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Pharmacy, MBA alumnus offers view from a top office

Northeastern alumnus Frank Condella traveled from London to his old campus last week to describe the professional doors that opened to him in international pharmaceuticals after he earned his pharmacy degree in 1977 and his master of business administration in 1984.
Most recently, Condella served as the CEO of SkyePharma, working from London.

Previously, he held other major positions, including CEO of Faulding Pharmaceutical Co.; vice president of Specialty Care Products at Hoffman-La Roche and vice president and general manager of the Lederle division of American Home Products.

Back on Northeastern’s campus to discuss raising venture capital during Global Entrepreneurship Week on Nov. 20, Condella told an audience of mostly pharmacy students that he never imagined his international successes when he was sitting in classrooms at Northeastern so many years ago.

“I had no idea I would be involved in international business when I was sitting in classrooms like this,” he said.

His odyssey began after working a few years as a hospital pharmacist and deciding to return to Northeastern for an MBA. His interests were broader than pure pharmacy work. He wanted to take an entrepreneurial approach. And he wanted to see the world.

“The combination of a pharmacy and business degree has been tremendous,” he said. The science background gave him the knowledge to easily converse with scientists, and the business degree gave him a tool to develop leadership skills in the areas of translational research.

He described the excitement of working at SkyePharma during a Phase 3 trial for an asthma drug that involved 2,500 patients in 30 countries, and he further elucidated on issues facing pharmaceutical companies navigating the regulations of 27 countries within the European Union. A centralized process for development of molecular entities in the European Union is one that allows each country to retain a connection with the process of drug development, he explained.

There are also major differences in health care in Europe, where the payer is a government agency. This difference in health care systems can usually add about two years to the time it takes to get a drug approved for market, he said.

Condella encouraged students to seek out international opportunities when possible. He credited the co-op program as a good vehicle to take them to new sites. “It’s a great opportunity to travel and see some things,” he said.

Condella was on of about a dozen speakers participating in the speaker’s series hosted by the Bouvé College of Health Sciences during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

By Susan Salk

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