After graduating from Columbia University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Steven Girgenti quickly demonstrated his drive by earning a Master’s degree in business while attending night school. He began his career in healthcare working in marketing positions with Squibb, Carter Wallace, and Endo DuPont. At Endo he demonstrated his keen marketing instincts. Certain that J&J would eventually market a Tylenol-with-oxycodone product due to its success with Tylenol with codeine, he convinced Endo management to market Percocet before J&J could bring its formulation to market. This prescient move both protected Percodan and created a major market for Endo DuPont.
Following his success at Endo, Girgenti moved to the William Douglas McAdams agency, where he quickly rose to VP Group Supervisor working on the Ciba Geigy account. In 1980, he left McAdams together with Bill Bologna to co-found Bologna International. At Bologna he developed a logarithm for TheoDur that demonstrated an important product benefit, its ability to provide consistently flat blood levels for a full 12-hour dosage period. This work helped propel TheoDur sales from under $12 million to almost $100 million in less than three years, making it the most widely prescribed drug for asthma of its day.
In 1986, Girgenti founded Girgenti, Hughes, Butler & McDowell with the vision of creating the agency of the future, a firm that would provide every marketing service needed for medical marketing in every major world market. By accomplishing this, a pharmaceutical client would have a single source for every service they needed. Under his leadership, GHBM developed a staggering array of capabilities – advertising, direct mail, marketing and media research, PR, web services, medical education, a contract sales force, DTC, TV and print production, symposia and sales meetings, and a publishing division for single-sponsor magazines.
In 1990, correctly seeing that DTC would be an important element of pharmaceutical communications in the future, Girgenti registered another first by purchasing a consumer agency – Rubin, Reid, Noto, Ehrenthal. In short order, GHBM had more than 20 DTC assignments and became a leader in this field.
With this formidable scope of capabilities, GHBM grew rapidly, and in 1997, Girgenti took another bold step, launching Healthworld, which turned the privately held agency into a public corporation, listed on NASDAQ. Under Girgenti’s leadership, Healthworld became part of WPP in 2003, with 55 offices in 36 countries, serving 200 clients with over 1,000 brand assignments.
Even with all of this activity, Girgenti has found time for other involvement. He has served as a director of Burren Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacon International, and is currently a director of MDTV and Vycor Medical. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of Vatera Capital LLC, is Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Mt. Sinai Hospital Prostate Disease and Research Center in New York City, and is on the Board of Directors for Jack Martin Fund, a Mt. Sinai Hospital affiliated charitable organization devoted to pediatric oncology research.
Girgenti’s accomplishments and contributions have brought more than just business success. In 1998, and again in 1999, Business Week named Healthworld one of the Best Small Corporations in America. In 1999 Forbes listed Healthworld as one of the 200 Best Small Companies. He was also recognized as “Entrepreneur of the Year” by NASDAQ in 1999, and was named Med Ad News’ first “Medical Advertising Man of the Year” in 2000.
After retiring from advertising, Girgenti founded DermWorx, a specialty pharmaceutical company that uses patented nanotechnology for optimizing the efficacy of certain topical dermatological drugs. He is currently its President and CEO.
Steven Girgenti’s achievements in the industry are numerous and extraordinary. His vision and drive, time and again, have led him to break new ground and lead the industry in new directions.