4 questions with Salix Senior Vice President Mark McKenna

Senior Vice President and General Manager of Bridgewater, N.J.-based Salix Pharmaceuticals Mark McKenna is dedicated to revolutionizing gastroenterology and preventing GI diseases.

Becker's ASC Review asked Mr. McKenna four questions about his business experience and gastroenterology's future.

Question: How did you get into the healthcare arena, and how are you using your past career experience to help Salix?

Mark McKenna: I spent nearly 15 years in the eye care industry at Johnson & Johnson's Vision Care division and then Bausch + Lomb. I have global experience leading cross-functional groups across research and development, manufacturing and communications.

Prior to assuming the role at Salix, the team and I led the resurgence of the Bausch + Lomb's contact lens business into one that doubled its revenues. To Salix, I bring the same enthusiasm to develop an internal culture that remains customer focused.

Q: How is Salix working to better gastroenterology?

MM: Over the past few years [Salix has] significantly increased our R&D budget to expand indications, and accelerate discoveries in new therapeutic areas.

We also proudly continue our tradition of gaining valuable insights into the emerging needs of the gastroenterology community by nurturing trusted relationships almost 30 years in the making. We are partnering with gastroenterologists and hepatologists, making daily connections with the clinical community and improving our understanding of the evolving GI space through regular national advisory board meetings, education, charitable grants and sponsorships.

We remain committed to our sustained investment in speaker training and best-in-class health care professional educational programs.

Q: What's a problem in gastroenterology that Salix is working to fix?

MM: Patients are often waiting too long to see a physician. Right now, millions of patients are suffering with gastrointestinal disorders — from irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, to opioid-induced constipation, ulcerative colitis and hepatic encephalopathy — to name a few. To address a significant undiagnosed and untreated population, we at Salix are investing in multi-million-dollar consumer awareness campaigns and disease-state education. For these patients who have been suffering for years, we want them to know there are treatments beyond over-the-counter options.

There will always be new patients with new therapeutic needs. At Salix, we work side-by-side with patients, healthcare professionals and peers in the ongoing pursuit of better GI healthcare. That’s how we’ve become one of the largest specialty pharmaceutical companies in the world, and how we promise to continue our journey.

Q: What's one thing you want everyone to know about Salix?

MM: We are committed to the prevention and treatment of GI diseases. This razor-sharp focus on GI is a competitive advantage as we get to hone in on the finer details of GI. Targeting this one segment allows us to fast-track research and development rather than splitting our efforts across multiple segments.

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