Innovation, technology and collaboration—these were the keywords we heard frequently at the 2nd CEO Summit of BioNJ, attended by more than 250 industry professionals in Bridgewater, NJ on October 21, 2014. Hosted by the BioNJ President Debbie Hart, along with a prominent organizing committee, the event featured panels and presentations from senior industry leaders. Three speakers stuck out to me as particularly insightful:
Geno Germano (Group President, Global Innovative Pharma Business, Pfizer)
According to Pfizer’s Geno Germano, the convergence of science and technology is leading to increasing R&D productivity in research and development. Our growing understanding of biology and genomics is helping us develop new and targeted therapies such as PCSK9 and immuno-oncology.
He also noted the emergence of technology that allows patients to proactively monitor and manage their own health. For example, a web-based program, developed in Europe for Pfizer’s rheumatology product, allows patients to enter their clinical outcomes in a portal, which alerts their physicians about how their condition is progressing. This area offers many opportunities for growth.
Additionally, Geno emphasized the importance of using real world data in making product development and commercial decisions. A few years ago, we would not have imagined that companies such as Apple and Google would enter the healthcare space using technology to drive innovation.
Mark Alles (President and COO, Celgene)
Celgene’s Mark Alles talked about the Hepatitis C space, where a total cure is now possible thanks to scientific innovation. For people concerned about the high prices of innovative therapies, he reminded us to consider the costs from a patient outcome perspective.
For example, Celgene started out converting thalidomide, a once notorious product, into a powerful option to manage cancer, practically reversing a risk into a reward. Celgene intends to engrain this risk/reward trade-off into its corporate culture, along with an emphasis on employee accountability.
Having developed and built Revlimid into a blockbuster, Celgene is now focusing on diversification rather than applying a blockbuster lens to all future product development. The biotech company has engaged in approximately 25 alliances, allowing the partnering scientists to concentrate on innovation by taking the financial risk off the table.
Christi Shaw (US Country Head, President Novartis Corporation and President, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation)
The keynote speaker, Christi Shaw from Novartis, talked about the convergence of public health, policy and spending as well as the need for pharmaceutical companies to stay ahead of the curve by improving patient experiences.
She called on the pharmaceutical industry to re-examine its value proposition using three strategic lenses:
External focus. The industry needs to turn its attention to patients and other external stakeholders, to integrate their insights into program design and delivery. For example, Novartis supports Multiple Sclerosis patients through social media and onboarding services with its stand-alone patient and specialty services organization.
Strategic agility. In the current shift in healthcare from volume of procedures to value of outcomes, the industry needs to reposition itself, to be paid not only for products but also for outcomes. Increasingly, payers, providers and the industry are striking value-based deals. Scientific breakthroughs, such as the use of LCZ for congestive heart failure patients, will present opportunities to construct such deals.
Trustworthiness. The industry needs to demonstrate its trustworthiness by helping patients who cannot afford them gain access to products. Novartis, for example, provides patients with health insurance exchanges at the state level to ensure they can access the medications they need.
Christi also talked about the need for partnerships and collaboration. The University of Pennsylvania and Novartis successfully teamed up to develop a center for advanced cell therapy to help bring chimeric antigen receptors to market in the future; and Alcon and Google partnered to create smart lens technology for the treatment of eye diseases.
While listening to these three speakers, it’s clear that scientific innovation, technology and non-traditional collaborations are shaping the industry and likely to have a huge effect on improving patient outcomes.