finizio alumni spotlight

Ties that bind

By Deserae E. del Campo

Ties that bind

By Deserae E. del Campo
A&S alumnus Robert G. Finizio, a successful businessman in the pharmaceutical industry, shares fond memories of his time at the “U.”

First impressions can make a big impact on an individual, and for alumnus, Robert G. Finizio, B.A. ’94, his first impression of the University of Miami back in the 1990s was quite significant.

“I instantly fell in love with the University of Miami,” recalls Finizio, chief executive officer, co-founder, and director of TherapeuticsMD Inc., an innovative women’s health pharmaceutical company based in Boca Raton, FL. “The University opened my eyes to a world of possibilities and potential. I could have stayed in Connecticut and attended college there, but I would have never been exposed to Miami’s culture and the academic achievements presented to me at UM.”

Finizio grew up in New Britain, Connecticut, and was raised by his single mother, a psychology professor who taught at Central Connecticut State University. Finizio’s parents divorced when he was a child, and his father was also in academia teaching theater arts. “I grew up in a lower- to a middle-class neighborhood. We weren’t poor, but we weren’t rich by any means,” said Finizio.

Always a serious student in school, Finizio enrolled in Northeastern University in Boston with dreams to one day be a doctor. In his first semester, Finizio made a trip down to South Florida to visit a friend who got accepted into the University of Miami, and he was hooked.

“I came down to Miami to visit my friend, and I knew right away that I needed to transfer from Northeastern. At the time, I didn’t know much about UM or Miami Hurricanes football, for that matter, but the campus and the atmosphere blew me away,” said Finizio. “I remember going to the Admissions Office to plead my case and get as much information as I could on transferring from Northeastern to UM, and I did it.”

While at UM, Finizio kept his pre-med track and majored in Psychology, but before graduation, he began to doubt his pre-med choice and where his future would be in the field of medicine, so Finizio decided to take a gap year and teach English in Japan. “I applied to medical school when I was in Osaka, Japan because I needed time to think about whether or not I wanted to be a physician,” he recalls. 

Finizio’s plans to be a doctor did change but he maintained a successful career in the medical profession by tapping into the pharmaceuticals field. With over 25 years of healthcare experience, Finizio co-founded TherapeuticsMD in 2008 by combining his background in women’s healthcare, pharmaceutical technology, clinical software, and patient safety. Under his leadership, the company has become a leader in women’s health, pharmaceutical development, and commercialization in the women’s health space.

“The company is committed to advancing women’s health and increase awareness of their healthcare issues within all stages of their lives, from family planning to reproductive health and menopause management,” said Finizio.

In 2011, TherapeuticsMD went public on the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalization that exceeded a billion dollars. In 2017, he guided TherapeuticsMD’s transfer to Nasdaq. Now the company is the first in over 20 years to have three products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in women’s health within a single year. In 2001, prior to TherapeuticsMD, Finizio started his first company, CareFusion, which pioneered the patient-safety concept adopted in most hospitals today where medication or a blood transfusion is scanned to endure the correct patient receives the right dosage or procedure. The company was acquired by Cardinal Health (CAH) before merging with other medical technology companies listed on the S&P 500 after; he sold CareFusion to CAH in 2006.

Currently, Finizio serves as a director for three non-profit organizations—the Vice Chairman for BioFlorida, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Foundation, and the Boca Chamber of Commerce, as well as two biotech start-up companies: Pleo Pharmaceuticals and Zyversa Corporation.

“The University of Miami gave me a clear education and a belief that if you can make it here, then you can make it anywhere. As all institutions of higher learning are undergoing challenges due to the pandemic, I believe UM is anchored in its physical attributes and what it can offer students—diversity, culture, and academic excellence in higher education,” said Finizio, who is hoping his three children make UM their alma mater, too. “My daughter, who is a senior in high school, has applied to UM, but there’s no pressure for her to attend. Even though she is a city girl and I know UM would be a great choice for her.”