ONNO VAN DE STOLPE Thierry Roge Belga Mag AFP Getty Images

Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP/Getty Images

Onno van de Stolpe

CEO and Founder, Galapagos

“These are challenging times, especially for a research-and-development company,” Onno van de Stolpe, CEO of Dutch-Belgian drug development firm Galapagos, told the markets in May.

The company made headlines in 2019 when it signed a deal with US firm Gilead Science, which bought a 25% stake in Galapagos, alongside investing $4 billion over the next 10 years in what the company described as a transformative partnership.

The company develops its medicines by discovering “novel targets” — which proteins in the body are involved in causing key diseases like rheumatoid arthritis — then identifying molecules that can counteract the deleterious impact of those proteins. It’s a way of trying to head off the disease before it happens, rather than waiting for it to occur, then treating it.

Galapagos’s treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, called filgotinib, was the key innovation that sparked Gilead’s investment in the company. Gilead is marketing filgotinib in most countries, though Galapagos is doing so in the Benelux countries.

“We are ready to roll with regard to marketing and introduction of this molecule in these countries initially for rheumatoid arthritis and later for IBD, inflamed-bowel disease,” he told investors.