The FT Global Pharma and Biotechnology Conference: Industry Leaders Point to Era of Collaboration

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Severin Schwan, CEO, Roche

The FT Global Pharma and Biotechnology Conference took place in London November 16th and 17th 2015. Its theme was “bringing innovation to patients: new approaches, models, challenges”. Here is what you missed.

“Declining R&D productivity, pricing, regulatory environment…” began Severin Schwan, the Austrian CEO of Roche. “When it comes to the challenges our industry faces, I could have presented you the exact same slide a decade ago.”

“But if the challenges we face are the same,” he continued, “there has been a paradigm shift in the way we address them.” For Roche’s CEO, the path ahead is clear: science and collaboration.

“It is impossible for a company to develop all compounds, so we need more cross industry collaboration in R&D. We need to collaborate with healthcare providers and patients to get access to patient outcome data. We need IT companies to make sense of the data: collaboration is key to mastering data complexity, to analyzing and using data effectively. And we need more collaboration with and amongst regulators. For one submission, we need to make 24 dossiers. We have to work together as an industry, and with our stakeholders. ”

In his keynote address, Jean-Christophe Tellier, CEO of UCB, had a similar take on the state of the industry: “[creating a] network is the key to success. We need to share knowledge, experience, resources and risk”. And this should start with a “patient-centric and collaboration driven drug development process”.

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Jean Christophe Tellier, CEO, UCB

Many speakers highlighted their progress to partner with the best, both inside and outside the pharma world: Pascale Witz, Sanofi’s EVP Global Divsisions and Strategic Development, discussed the French company’s partnership with Google. Pascale Richetta, Abbvie’s Vice President, Western Europe and Canada, and Murray Stewart, Chief Medical Officer at GlaxoSmithKline developed their companies’ partnerships with Ferrari and Maclaren.

Market access and pricing was another hot topic which led to heated panel discussions. Jean Pierre Clozel, the outspoken CEO of Swiss based Actelion insisted that “reasonable prices are compatible with [healthy] valuations.”

Jan van de Winkel, CEO of GENMAB, concurred: “the pharma industry is getting more realistic about what society will pay.”

Roche’s Schwan added:  “We need to find creative models to align value and price. An example of this is Avastin being priced by indication in Italy, which is something we could replicate in other countries. The future is also towards more differential pricing, and we are proud at Roche to have been pioneers in this field “

Many of the executives agreed that collaborative discussions on value should take place at a much earlier stage of the development process.

David Meeker, CEO of Genzyme, told the conference that “the development of gene therapies will force the development of new reimbursement systems.”

So, after these two days: are partnerships and collaboration the cure-all? The thought leaders of the industry certainly seem to think so, and one of the challenges ahead is to learn how to measure which solutions work best for all involved, especially the patient.

Could that be on the agenda for next year?

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