PhRMA’s First Ever Female Board Chair Looks to Strike Delicate Innovation/Access Balance

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Ramona Sequeira of Takeda has taken the reins as chair of US industry lobby group PhRMA’s Board of Directors, becoming the first ever woman to hold the role. She succeeds Lilly Chairman and CEO David Ricks at a juncture when the industry is under pressure from proposed US pricing reforms and where PhRMA is attempting to balance protect innovation while lowering patient costs.

 

2022 is already proving to be a year of great change for Sequeira, currently president of Takeda’s US business and of its Global Portfolio Commercialization activities, as well as a member of its global executive team. In April, she will become president of Takeda’s newly created Global Portfolio Division, bringing together the firm’s Vaccines Business Unit, Global Medical, and Global Product Launch Strategy, as well as three regional businesses including Growth and Emerging Markets (GEM), European Union and Canada (EUCAN), and China.

 

In a PhRMA press release, Sequiera expanded on what she hopes to achieve as head of the organisation’s board. “For more than two years, our companies and researchers have taken unparalleled strides to collaborate on developing, manufacturing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics and to pursue policies that help all patients access the care they need,” she said. “As PhRMA board chair, I look forward to working together to continue to transform lives through breakthrough cures and innovative treatments while partnering with stakeholders to support a more value-driven, sustainable and equitable health care system.”

 

As PhRMA board chair, I look forward to working together to continue to transform lives through breakthrough cures and innovative treatments while partnering with stakeholders to support a more value-driven, sustainable and equitable health care system

Ramona Sequeira

 

PhRMA CEO and President Stephen Ubl added that “This announcement is an important milestone for PhRMA and our industry … We need strong leaders to help us end the pandemic, lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines and protect future innovation. Ramona’s 25 years of experience in the industry and her commitment to patients are why she will be an exceptional board chair at this critical time.”

 

The topics of sustainability and equality within US healthcare are higher on PhRMA’s agenda than ever before, as the industry attempts to strike the delicate balancing act between ensuring that its innovations are financially well-recompensed while supporting the containment of spiralling US drug costs. Morning Consult reports that more than five million Medicare beneficiaries struggle to afford their prescriptions and that polling shows healthcare to be a top issue for US voters. Democratic lawmakers’ proposals to reform US drug pricing policy ran up against a belligerent PhRMA in 2021, which spent record sums on lobbying against them.

 

However, in conversation with the same publication, Sequiera said, “We can find a way to continue to stimulate innovation, and at the same time, enable common sense reforms that will lower out-of-pocket costs for patients.” She added, “It doesn’t help any of us when the system is so complex, and when medicines are so hard for patients to afford.”

 

How much common ground can be found on pricing reform remains to be seen, but Sequiera also highlighted some other key areas of her PhRMA mandate. These include increasing clinical trial diversity, expanding patient input into regulatory processes, finalising the FDA’s user fee agreement for the industry, and promoting greater collaboration across the industry; leveraging lessons from the rapid COVID-19 pandemic response to improve the overall system.


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