First 90 Days: Janssen Immunology’s David Jimenez

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Staying at one company for decades isn’t for everyone. But during his 22-plus-year career at Johnson & Johnson, David Jimenez has always stayed on his toes — moving between different business units on four different continents in many roles.

“I’ve worked with some amazing teams around the world from Puerto Rico to Spain to Dubai to Africa to the United States,” Jimenez says. “I bring a multicultural, patient-centric perspective from these unique experiences that inspires teams to have a positive impact.”

Earlier this year, Jimenez made another new leap at J&J — this time from head of Janssen’s Pulmonary Hypertension US organization to president of Janssen Immunology. A franchise valued at more than $10 billion, Janssen Immunology already boasts a number of high-growth drugs including Tremfya, a first-in-class blockbuster medication for several inflammatory indications, including psoriasis.

Now, with J&J execs hoping to Turn the pharma giant into an even bigger $60-billion behemoth by 2025, the pressure is on to use this success as a springboard. In addition to launching over a dozen new medications that could surpass $1 billion in sales, J&J is also looking to leverage expanded indications for drugs like Tremfya — which is being trialed for indications in Crohn’s diseases and ulcerative colitis.

But Jimenez brings plenty of experience driving growth to the table. In his last role, Jimenez notes that he was especially proud of how his team increased patient persistence and how two in-market brands, Opsumit and Uptravi, boasted worldwide sales of more than $1.1 billion in 2020.

There has been a huge transformation in immunology, but there are still a lot of significant unmet needs.

David Jimenez

President, Janssen Immunology.

Now, after two decades of globetrotting, the Madrid native says he is ready to put down roots in the US and looks forward to relentlessly advancing care for people” living with immune-related disease.

“There has been a huge transformation in immunology, but there are still a lot of significant unmet needs,” Jimenez says. “There are many things we can do with the products that we have in the market and that’s why we keep developing clinical evidence. We have a really strong pipeline. We are also looking at combination products.”

And Jimenez and his team won’t just be aiming at the big targets in immunology, he says, noting that they will also look for innovations in rare diseases.

“We are going to get into new areas, including rare and ultra-rare diseases. It’s exciting where we are, but it’s even more exciting to see where we are going and to be part of the journey. Our mission is to change the landscape,” he says.

In today’s installment of our continuing series, First 90 Days, Jimenez discusses how he’s going to approach the task of R&D for a wide variety of indications, how he’s transitioning into his new role and why, should you want to meet with him, you should plan on drinking some coffee.

PharmaVoice: How did you craft your first 90 days in your new role?

David Jimenez: I’ve been through a lot of transitions, and some of these were moving from medical devices to consumer or consumer to pharma, to important strategic roles to commercial roles, from general management to managing a region to managing a portfolio of countries.

First, I learned there are a lot of smart people in the organization, and the title alone doesn’t give you knowledge or potential. So, I learned, and what I believe has been impactful in my role, is to really listen. I spent my [first few months in this role] listening to people, meeting everybody in the organization, every department, not just the direct reports on my leadership team, but going beyond that.

I also do a lot of informal interactions. I love coffee — coffee is a big part of my life. But it’s not just drinking coffee. It’s about the Spanish culture of preparing coffee and having a nice chat while having a cup of coffee. Several times a week I invite people from all different levels of the organization to have coffee with me — Café con David. Everybody brings a coffee or tea and we have a nice chat; they talk about what they do in sales, marketing, medical, etc. And we really talk about what is going on, what opportunities they see, what the challenges are. People really appreciate these open discussions. The amount of insights — verbal and the nonverbal — that I gain from these meetings is much better than five hours being in front of a PowerPoint or slides. These 30 minutes can sometimes be transformational.

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