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Daniel O’Day was made CEO of Gilead Sciences four-and-a-half months ago, charged with reigniting investor excitement in a company that pioneered HIV medicines. On Sunday, he announced his first big deal: Gilead will spend $5 billion to deepen its relationship with Galapagos NV, a Belgian drug developer.

“I’m really happy that this is the first deal that’s [being] announced — it certainly won’t be the only deal — because I think it’s creative,” O’Day said in an interview. “I think it’s innovative. I think it’s focused on science and innovation. And you know, with my background, this is what I’m passionate about. How can we find the most innovative medicines and get them to patients fast?”


Combined with other recent moves, the deal helps bring O’Day’s plans at Gilead into focus. His approach is shaped heavily by his 30 years at Swiss drug giant Roche, the last nine of which he served as head of its pharmaceutical division. He is also showing the kind of focus on execution and simple strategy that were his trademark at a drugmaker known for wanting things to run like clockwork.

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