Q&A: Horizon CEO Tim Walbert goes from C-suite to face of the brand
Horizon Therapeutics CEO Tim Walbert runs a rare disease company, but he’s also a patient. While his condition hasn’t been a secret, Walbert is stepping out for the first time as the face of rare disease in Horizon’s new corporate campaign called “It’s Personal.”
Or rather, as one of the faces of rare disease — other Horizon employees will also share their stories as patients and caregivers as part of the effort.
Walbert is familiar with the typical long path of rare disease patients. He was first diagnosed as a junior in college with an autoimmune disease similar to rheumatoid arthritis, but he spent another 10 years before receiving a second rare disease diagnosis. More recently, he unfortunately added the role of caregiver to a child with a rare disease when his 13-year-old son was diagnosed last year with two autoimmune conditions.
Walbert joined Horizon as CEO in 2008 after working at Abbott — now AbbVie — in immunology on the launch of anti-inflammatory biologic Humira. Before that he worked at Searle, now part of Pfizer, on pain med Celebrex. The then-fledging Horizon had only a handful of employees and no office space, literally working from Walbert’s living room.
Lately though, Horizon’s been on a tear. Despite a pair of major setbacks with the pandemic closing infusion centers just weeks after its key Tepezza thyroid eye disease approval and then later when Catalent cancelled Tepezza manufacturing slots to prioritize Covid-19 vaccine production, the company reported $820 million in Tepezza sales in 2020. That accounted for about 40% of the pharma’s record $2.2 billion in 2020 sales, blasting past $1.3 billion in 2019 sales.
While “It’s Personal” is Horizon’s first corporate branding effort, the growing pharma company has long relied on direct-to-consumer advertising as a key part of its commercialization strategy. It’s also invested heavily in unbranded awareness campaigns including RareIs which began as a social media awareness campaign that’s evolved into a rare disease resource and support community platform.
Walbert recently talked to Endpoints MarketingRx senior editor Beth Snyder Bulik about Horizon’s new campaign, and the rare personal journey that’s helped steer his career.
How did the new “It’s Personal” campaign come about? Can you talk about your personal connection and why you wanted to do it?
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