ELITE Launch Expert Michael Gaines of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Michael Gaines

Executive Director of Respiratory Portfolio Marketing

Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


The Multi-Launch Master

Launching a brand in the pharmaceutical industry is never an easy task. But orchestrating four branded launches in less than 12 months is nearly unprecedented. Nonetheless, that’s what Michael Gaines, Executive Director of Respiratory Portfolio Marketing, is taking on for Sunovion Pharmaceuticals.

When Michael first joined Sunovion in July of 2014, his first task was to “breathe new life” into the company’s existing COPD product while simultaneously overseeing commercialization efforts of an innovative drug/delivery combination in development. In December 2016, the company obtained the U.S. commercial rights for three recently approved COPD medications. With this deal, Sunovion now has the broadest COPD portfolio in the U.S. The challenge was to launch these brands, in addition to Sunovion’s innovative drug/delivery combination, in a very short time. The first product launch milestone was achieved in 60 business days, despite being launched into one of the fastest growing classes of COPD products.

With over 20 years of experience in product development and brand management, which includes multiple product launches in various therapeutic categories, Michael knows what it takes to address complex business challenges and make a launch a success. But what does it take to do four at once?

Attitude & Inspiration: Having honed his management and brand development skills in quite complex and challenging markets, Michael has learned it takes more than a good technical understanding of marketing. It also requires the right mindset to make critical decisions with imperfect information, think on one’s feet, and make the most of the privilege of working with talented people. Building a strong team that works well together and collectively rises above the challenges is a critical success factor.

Through a career that so far has included learning at notable institutions such as Harvard, Lilly, and Merck, and the opportunity to apply those insights in particularly challenging markets (including rare diseases with CSL Behring), Michael places enormous value on the emotional intelligence of his brand teams. “In dynamic business situations like this,” Michael says, “it comes down to a person’s character, business acumen, and a good sense of humor to effectively lead and contribute to the vision of the company.”


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