Andrew Hexter, vice president and general manager of Gilead Asia 5
Hong Kong Business Spotlight
Why Hong Kong is a key part of the global biopharmaceutical company’s vision for the prevention, treatment, and elimination of diseases like hepatitis and HIV in the region.
Throughout 2020, global biopharmaceutical company Gilead was frequently in the news for its delivery of remdesivir — the first treatment in the market for COVID-19.
The California-headquartered company was already well known for developing the world’s first single-tablet regimen for HIV treatment, the first medicine for HIV prevention, and the first cure for hepatitis C. It was their decades of research and expertise in antiviral drugs like these that made the development of remdesivir possible, says Andrew Hexter, vice president and general manager of Gilead Asia 5.
Gilead first came to Hong Kong in 2007, followed by offices in South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. (Together with Malaysia, these are the five markets that make up “Asia 5.”) With more than 250 employees, the Hong Kong office covers a wide range of business functions including clinical operations, regulatory affairs, medical affairs, commercial, public affairs, community engagement, HR and finance.
In an email interview with Living and Investing in Hong Kong, Hexter discussed why Hong Kong is a key part of the company’s vision for the prevention, treatment, and elimination of diseases like hepatitis and HIV in the region.
LAIHK: Could you elaborate on those advantages?
AH: Hong Kong is an ideal place for holding international medical conferences so that researchers from around Asia Pacific can get updates on medical information and engage in scientific exchange. In recent years, these types of conferences have expanded to involve community groups and NGOs which play a key role in supporting the delivery of healthcare services within the region.
“Our Hong Kong office is critical to our continued growth as it provides geographical advantages for medical education, including research collaboration and community partnerships.”
— Andrew Hexter, Gilead
AH: We have been working with local academics in Hong Kong since 2018 to increase access to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for key populations. The data from these PrEP demonstration projects will help health authorities and the community develop HIV prevention strategies.
LAIHK: What about outside of Hong Kong in the larger Asia Pacific region?
AH: Gilead is at the center of many bold collaborative initiatives across Asia geared towards ending HIV, from pilot access programs to grant giving, education and stigma campaigns. Our largest effort is our regional grant program that is now available in 23 countries: Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant. The Rainbow Grant supports community projects that foster innovation and action around access and awareness with the goal of improving the quality of life for those affected by HIV.
AH: The velocity of change in the world is accelerating. For business leaders in Asia, it is important to be ready for the speed of change and remain agile.
While we may not be able to control geopolitical changes, we can listen closely to our partners and be ready to adapt and support them on projects that have the potential for the most meaningful impact.
“The energy and possibilities for impactful work in Hong Kong and this region are as real today as they were three decades ago.”
AH: Inclusion is a core value of Gilead. Hong Kong’s diverse culture allows us to attract the right talents to support business growth. We welcome strong, home-grown talents who are helping us drive patient impact and the future of our company.
From a personal standpoint, I was drawn to Asia 30 years ago. The energy and possibilities for impactful work in Hong Kong and this region are as real today as they were three decades ago. Hong Kong is truly a gem in Asia for the explorer, full of natural beauty and surprises around every turn.