November 7, 2008

Driving Progress in Cancer Treatments

Kevin Lokay ’78 is president of the Americas for EUSA Pharma

When Kevin Lokay ’78 became CEO of Cytogen Corp. in November 2007, it was on shaky financial ground. He was charged with the difficult task of accessing capital and guiding the company out of a tough situation.

After the European specialty pharmaceutical company EUSA Pharma, Inc. bought Cytogen, Lokay became president of the Americas. EUSA Pharma focuses on oncology, pain control, and critical care. Lokay’s primary responsibility is making decisions on resource allocation to gain the greatest possible return on investment.

“Some of it is getting resources from EUSA or helping EUSA acquire resources through investors or prospective investors,” he explains. “Then I try to allocate those resources across different products, products in development, short-term projects, and long-term projects. It’s always a balancing act. It’s like what you do with your paycheck – some you use for groceries today, some you use to buy clothes for the upcoming winter, and some you save for the future. I allocate resources to drive current and future performance.”

Lokay has worked in the oncology field for the last 11 years. He believes it’s an exciting time to be a part of the development of new cancer treatments.

“The most rewarding thing for me is bringing products to patients that make a huge difference in the quality of their lives,” he says. “When you’re having a tough day at the office, the thing that makes you feel better is recognizing the fact that in the end, if the products are used appropriately for the right patients, those patients will benefit and you played a role in that.

“We’ve made huge strides in understanding cancer. It’s not just one disease, it’s hundreds of different malignancies. Now, instead of treating cancer with blunt force chemotherapy, there are a lot more targeted agents, a lot more individualized medicine. It’s not just helping people live longer, but helping people live longer with a better quality of life. It’s a tremendously motivating part of my job, and it makes being a part of the biopharmaceutical industry very rewarding for me.”

Lafayette’s small class sizes helped Lokay, an economics and business graduate, focus on school and develop the skills he needed to be successful in senior management.

“The classes were interesting and my professors were motivating,” he says. “All in all, Lafayette was a very good setting for me to learn about myself and what I was interested in.”

He credits Lafayette with helping him identify his interests and find a way to combine them. After teaching high school biology for a year after graduation, he earned his M.B.A. at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management.

“Lafayette helped me figure out what I wanted to do,” he says. “When I went to school, I had no idea. My dad was an excavating contractor and my mom owned a country inn and that’s where I grew up. For me, looking at the economics of a firm and how the system worked gave me a window into a world I and my family didn’t really participate in. Frank Corcione encouraged me to take the GMAT [Graduate Management Admission Test] and think about going to business school. Having mentorship and direction from someone I respected helped me make that decision. I was always interested in science and business and went into the pharmaceutical industry after receiving my M.B.A. because that’s where those interests intersected.”

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