Linda M. Richardson
Chief Commercial Officer
Finding the Rare Gems
Linda Richardson has an innate ability to see a rare gem when others may only see a rock. This ability has helped her establish markets and launch first-in-class treatments, including a Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) treatment, the first non-nicotine pill for smoking cessation, and a prescription Omega-3 capsule.
According to Linda, the biggest challenge for first-in-class treatments more often than not is convincing people that a market even exists. She explains, “People thought I was crazy to leave GSK, where I was for 17 years, to go to Reliant, a company that no one had ever heard of, to launch ‘prescription’ fish oil.”
But once Linda identifies that nugget, that untapped potential, it drives her to get to work. In the case of the Omega-3 therapy, her team was able to create something in which both physicians and patients now believe in—from a product no one at the time thought was necessary. GNC and others are now offering Omega-3 dietary supplements using essentially the same platform Linda and her team built six years ago.
Initially, GSK wasn’t sure there was a market for RLS. When Linda and her team ran a test campaign in three cities the response was overwhelming. Despite only appearing in limited cities, calls came in from patients and physicians across the nation asking about this new treatment.
The story is similar when it comes to Zyban, the first FDA approved non-nicotine agent for smoking cessation. Smokers who tried to quit but were unsuccessful often felt like failures, to the point that physicians would stop mentioning quitting to them. Linda saw things from a different perspective—offering new hope to smokers looking to quit. With this renewed hope in smoking cessation, a second generation of drugs has emerged on the market.
Ultimately, Linda is most proud of bringing people together to accomplish things that others do not think can be done, while having a positive impact on patients’ lives. She is currently applying that skill at a company-wide level in her latest role as Chief Commercial Officer at Chimerix, where they are developing much needed medicines to protect immunocompromised patients from potentially devastating viral infections.