Parag Meswani leads commercial activities for our rare disease franchise, and he joined Acadia in April 2022.
The opportunity to be able to put forward a therapy in Rett syndrome for such a difficult disease where families and the community are just searching for options, not even a cure, is incredibly rewarding and is one of the main reasons I chose to work at Acadia.
Tell us about your career and why you choose to work in rare disease
I’ve been in the industry over 20 years, and I have always worked in specialty disease but more recently over the past 10-12 years in rare diseases. I choose to work in rare because to me there’s a very personal aspect of bringing forward therapies in diseases like Rett, hemophilia, SMA. You get to meet treating clinicians in a very intimate manner and get to know families, get to know their names, they get to know you, and you see them often throughout the year. That very personal element of working in these areas is what has always drawn me to it.
The opportunity to be able to put forward a therapy in Rett syndrome for such a difficult disease where families and the community are just searching for options, not even a cure, is incredibly rewarding and is one of the main reasons I chose to work at Acadia. That is something that is very gratifying to be a part of and to be able to offer what could be the first disease specific therapy, how could you turn that down? That’s an amazing opportunity.
Also, Acadia is a company that is really committed to branching out into developing and commercializing rare disease therapeutics. To be part of a team in a franchise, to plant Acadia’s flag in rare diseases, and help define our ways of working so that we’re taking the best of our collective experiences in other companies and other rare diseases and applying it to what the future of Acadia is going to look like as we build our rare disease portfolio is a lot of fun. We’re building a team, we’re building competencies, we’re building a culture dedicated to developing unique programs for the rare disease community.
In your role as head of the rare disease franchise, what are you looking to accomplish in the short-term and long-term?
In the short term for me and I think for many of us here at Acadia, it’s all about Rett. It’s about building a team to successfully launch and ensure that this innovation makes it to the patients in a post-approval world. That’s easier said than done – it takes all hands-on deck. Often people think about approval as the end of the race. It’s the start of the race for us and we’ve got to take that baton. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So, in the short term, it’s all about Rett syndrome and making that a reality for the patients who need it.
Over time, in the long-term, my goal is to build on hopefully a successful launch for Rett, and to bring other therapies for rare diseases through clinical development, through registration, and to commercialization.
What are the most important aspects of the culture you’re building? How does diversity, equity & inclusion strengthen these efforts?
It’s important to me – and to all of us at Acadia – that we keep the interests and the motivations of the disease community that we serve at the center of all we do. It’s easier said than done. It’s important to find people who really believe that the work we do is positively impactful for the community. If we’re not doing something that’s going to benefit the community, don’t do it.
The team that we are assembling has that mindset, has that philosophy and is putting it into practice. That is an important aspect of building our team, which is patients at the center, work that is impactful for the disease community, and bringing forward diversity of experiences and diversity of backgrounds to help enable the aspiration that we have as we build a rare disease franchise.
When I think about DE&I, breadth of experiences and diverse backgrounds come to mind. I think we’re doing a nice job including employees in the right sets of activities and making sure that diverse perspectives and backgrounds are brought to bear as we collaborate within and across functions to ensure that the culture we build is one that embodies the diversity of experiences and backgrounds. It’s important to bring those experiences in an equal and equitable fashion to ensure that people feel like their voices are heard and valued, and that the diversity of thought is implemented in the work that we do.
Outside of your work at Acadia, what is an outlet that helps you recharge and get inspired?
I have two sons, ages 13 and 10. For me, their lives – school, personal, athletics – always helps me reset, recharge, and put things into perspective. Over the past couple of years with COVID-19 and now working remotely, it was just a different way to engage in their lives that wasn’t offered before. Before the pandemic, my sons were going to bed by the time I got home from work. But now it has been awesome to work in this remote environment, in which I have the opportunity to be more engaged in their lives throughout the day. It’s a nice way to find balance for work, life, and for family.