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Kevin Young CBE

Visiting Fellow

Kevin Young is one of Britain’s foremost executives within the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry. Over a distinguished 35 year career, Kevin has been recognised as a pioneer, innovator and major business leader. He joined Gilead Sciences in 2004 and was appointed Chief Operating Officer in May 2016. Kevin retired in February 2018 and currently serves on the Board of Cortexyme Inc, a pioneering bioscience company in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Born in York, England, Kevin now resides in California. His close family includes a sister and brother, a practising physician and dentist, respectively, who both live in the UK. Kevin completed his academic studies in the UK, receiving degrees in Sports Science and Exercise Physiology from Liverpool John Moores University and Nottingham University; authoring or co-authoring 18 research publications.

Following completion of his graduate studies, Kevin entered the world of pharmaceuticals, joining ICI Pharmaceuticals. He quickly established himself as a leading sales representative and rapidly advanced into marketing positions of increasing seniority at the company’s headquarters. In these roles, Kevin was responsible for the commercial launches of Zoladex (for the treatment of prostate cancer) and Zestril (for the treatment of hypertension). The launch of Zestril was widely recognised as ground breaking and was subsequently awarded “Campaign of the Decade” by peers in the pharmaceutical industry. Following a period of professional growth and success in the UK, Kevin assumed new responsibilities for international business operations, taking on a senior role leading product strategy for ICI’s oncology products.

In 1992, seeing the great scientific and medical progress being made in the growing field of Biotechnology, Kevin made the bold move to transfer from traditional pharmaceuticals to Amgen, at the time the world’s #1 biotechnology company. Kevin was initially part of the management team that built Amgen’s footprint in Europe. After five years at Amgen’s European headquarters in Lucerne, Switzerland, Kevin relocated to Britain to become the General Manager of the company’s UK & Ireland operations. During his tenure in Cambridge, Kevin played an active role in health policy via the American Pharmaceutical Group (APG). In early 2001, in recognition of his success and leadership abilities, Kevin was appointed to a Vice President role at Amgen’s headquarters in Thousand Oaks, California by the company’s Chief Executive Officer. In this position, Kevin served as Head of Inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis), one of the largest business units in the company, and was part of the team that managed Amgen’s acquisition of the Seattle, Washington-based biotechnology company Immunex Inc. and re-launched the breakthrough TNF inhibitor, Enbrel. The $16 billion deal for Immunex still represents one of the largest acquisitions in the biotechnology history.

In 2004, Kevin joined Gilead Sciences, an up and coming biotechnology company headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area with a specialisation in the area of antiviral drugs for serious infectious diseases including HIV and Hepatitis. At the time, Gilead’s annual revenues were $800 million and the company’s market capitalisation was $13 billion. By 2015, Gilead had annual sales of >$30 billion and a market capitalisation of over $100 billion. In 2008 Gilead was ranked #1 in “America’s Best-Managed Companies” (Drugs & Biotechnology) in Forbes and in 2009, Gilead was named the #1 “Best Performer” in Business Week magazine.

Together with his executive colleagues, Kevin led the development and commercialisation of medications that transformed the treatment of HIV – one of the most significant public health challenges of the last century. Gilead’s drugs are now the top selling therapies in the United States and Europe. Atripla (launched in July 2006) was the first complete regimen for the treatment of HIV, combining three separate medications into one tablet, taken once a day. Today, approximately 80% of all treated HIV patients in the United States are taking a Gilead product.

In November 2011, Gilead executed one of the boldest acquisitions ever seen in biotechnology. The $11 billion purchase of Pharmasset and its Phase 2 HCV compound PSI-7977 (later to become sofosbuvir). Sofosbuvir (Sovaldiâ) became the most successful drug ever launched with Q1 2014 results out selling the previous full year record.

Finally, 8 years ago, Kevin achieved what few in business ever do. He was appointed a Commander of The Most Excellent Order of The British Empire (CBE); one of Great Britain’s highest civilian honours. The award recognised Kevin’s “services to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, particularly to the development and marketing of life-changing medicines.” A rare and unique accolade, highlighting Kevin’s distinguished international career.

In summary, Kevin Young CBE has a track record of success in the world of healthcare spanning over four decades. He has served at the highest management level of the world’s largest biotechnology companies and continues to be a champion and ambassador for continuing scientific and business innovation.