PharmaBoardroom’s Top 5 Executive Insights 2021


2021 saw PharmaBoardroom’s network of executives and experts weighing in on some of the most pressing issues facing our industry today. See below for five of the most thought-provoking pieces, ranging from patient engagement to access solutions, infrastructure building, biomarkers, and sustainability.


A ‘Bold Vision’ of Patient Engagement

The integration of patient insights into the drug development process is a topic of increasing import to global biopharma, especially for companies working in targeted and precision therapies that vary depending on the patient.

In [CAR-T therapy] patients are truly central to all activities as a patient’s own cells are the starting material for every manufacturing process and – after genetic modification – the essence of the final product

Marc Boutin, Novartis

Marc Boutin, global head of patient engagement at Novartis, provides his interpretation of what patient engagement should look like for CAR-T patients, calling for different kinds of immediate, short- medium- and long-term engagement with the patient community.

Read the full article here and learn more about CAR-T patient engagement via the insights of patient advocacy groups, industry representatives, and leading physicians here.


Access to Medicine: Collaboration Needed

One hundred years after its invention, the global market for human insulin is now worth around USD 40 billion a year and 537 million adults are living with diabetes, a number predicted to rise to 784 million by 2045.

Rather than blaming companies for the problem, we need to address the barriers that dissuade a company from going into difficult markets. This might be a little uncomfortable for some, but in the economics of supplying insulin, economies of scale are important.

Brendan Shaw

However, as Brendan Shaw noted, many of these patients face huge challenges in accessing insulin. For example, 50 cent of Type 2 diabetes patients do not get the insulin they need; a situation exacerbated in low-income countries. Across the world one-in-two people with Type 2 diabetes get the insulin they need, while in Sub-Saharan Africa this figure drops to only one-in-seven.

While admitting that Big Pharma has a role to play in bridging these access gaps, Shaw proposes a multi-stakeholder solution whereby manufacturing is de-risked and there is greater collaboration between companies, governments, NGOs and international organisations to create new business models, policy solutions and markets.

Read the full article here


Pharma Manufacturing in Africa: A Way Out of the Pandemic

Lenias HwendaWhile the biopharma industry has been rightly lauded for developing, manufacturing, and distributing vaccines and therapeutics against COVID-19 in record time, there remain huge disparities in access to these products across the world.

Big Pharma and Africa’s development partners now have an opportunity to change this picture. They can do this by becoming allies to Africa’s efforts to improve health security on the continent and getting behind Africa’s pharmaceutical industrialization revolution

Lenias Hwenda, Medicines for Africa

Lenias Hwenda, founder and CEO of Medicines for Africa, points out that a mere six percent of the African population has been vaccinated, a problem that unless solved will continue to leave the world at the mercy of the pandemic.

Hwenda argues that the time is now to boost the infrastructure for pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa as a way out of the pandemic, and as a crucial weapon in the fight against future global health crises.

Read the full article here.


Biomarkers & CNS Diseases

The fallout from the FDA approval of Biogen’s Aduhelm for Alzheier’s Disease earlier this year was yet another reminder of just how challenging the CNS space can be.

The use of biomarkers as a pathway to approval attracts more investment because you can move ahead of waiting for very long-term outcomes

Deborah Dunsire, Lundbeck

In an exclusive conversation with PharmaBoardroom, CEO of Danish neuroscience specialist Lundbeck Deborah Dunsire outlined her focus on “revitalising and refreshing” the firm’s pipeline, which had seen several failures in the preceding years and the strategy she has put in place to ensure fruitful research programs neuroscience, including why a move into areas for which biomarkers can be established is key for the company’s future.

Read the full article here


Sustainability: A Hot Button Issue

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are taking on increased weight in company strategies across all industries, not least pharma.

In Europe, we see the increasing trend of the inclusion of ESG criteria along with quality and pricing in the decision-making process specifically with respect to tenders and procurement

Marco Rauland, Merck

Marco Rauland, vice president global market access & pricing strategic planning at Merck Group, casts his eye across Europe to assess how decision-making bodies are now progressively taking sustainability criteria into account alongside traditional cost-effectiveness for their procurement, pricing, and reimbursement policies for pharmaceuticals.

Read the full article here

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