Top 10 PharmaBoardroom Interviews of 2020


2020 was a challenging year globally, but one in which the importance of the healthcare and life sciences sector was underlined like never before. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions, PharmaBoardroom still managed to talk to key industry stakeholders from across the world helping shape the future of global health. Featured below are leading executives from Sanofi Genzyme, Merck and GSK, US FDA top brass, Asia-Pacific heads, and more.


Teresa Rodó, EVP, Head of Global Healthcare Operations, Merck

Teresa Rodó gives an overview of her role overseeing the development, manufacturing, supply, and quality of all of Merck’s biotech and pharmaceutical medicines and medical devices. Rodó also explains how the company has been able to withstand the supply chain challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and why Merck is at the forefront of supply chain sustainability and the integration of cutting-edge digital tools.


When the already-high levels of motivation and engagement among our employees were combined with the additional sense of purpose and urgency that COVID-19 has brought, our employees have been able to do amazing things

Read the full interview here




Bill Sibold, Executive VP, Sanofi Genzyme

Speaking exclusively to PharmaBoardroom, Sanofi Genzyme Executive VP Bill Sibold outlines Sanofi’s strategy for its specialty care unit, the wealth of potential breakthrough assets in its pipeline, product launch strategies, and the post-COVID industry of tomorrow.


Since I joined in 2011, it feels as if my time with Sanofi Genzyme has been one constant, giant launch! …the fundamental challenge but also opportunity in specialty care is the need to understand the challenges and priorities of the individual patient and physician communities

Read the full interview here




Emmanuel Hanon, Senior VP, Vaccines R&D, GSK

In an exclusive interview, GSK’s Senior VP for Vaccines R&D Dr Emmanuel Hanon discusses how the sharing of GSK’s adjuvant technology with a wealth of scientific institutions and companies globally can contribute to the rapid development of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Dr Hanon outlines the challenges inherent in manufacturing potential vaccines at scale and bringing them to market, as well as where the vaccine industry stands today in terms of innovation and public perception.


We have several agreements in place … We hope that this combined effort will lead to a number of successful COVID-vaccines that will use our adjuvant becoming available for people around the world at significant scale.

Read the full interview here



Jingsong Wang, Chairman & CEO, Harbour BioMed, China

PharmaBoardroom caught up with Dr Jingsong Wang, chairman & CEO of Harbour BioMed to discuss the exciting clinical and commercial milestones of the prolific biotech in the last year since we last met them in January 2019, including their March USD 75 million Series B+ fundraising round and their preparations for several Phase II/III pivotal to come later this year.


From the time of Harbour BioMed’s inception in 2016, we have always set out to be a patient-centric global biotech company with multiple forms of value generation for our shareholders

Read the full interview here


Janet Woodcock, Director, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), US FDA

 Janet Woodcock outlines how the world’s gold-standard agency for regulatory science is adapting to game-changing and often extremely expensive new therapies, why a sizeable impact from data and artificial intelligence on the US drug approval process is still some way in the future, and how the FDA is collaborating with other regulators in an increasingly globalised system of drug development and approval.


We have worldwide citizenship obligations. As we did with ICH, we are trying to bring everybody up to a certain level and be fit for purpose

Read the full interview here




Peter Marks, Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), US FDA

Dr Peter Marks MD, PhD highlights the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER)’s contributions related to the regulatory science behind vaccine development, including vaccines to prevent COVID-19; the Center’s efforts to facilitate the advancement of the field of gene therapy; as well as his commitment to following the science and remaining steadfast to the truth.


We need to try and make sure that we are following the science [on COVID-19 vaccines] very closely, and refrain from getting lost in all the noise that is out there in the current environment

Read the full interview here



John-Arne Røttingen, CEO, The Research Council of Norway & Global Health Ambassador

John-Arne Røttingen, CEO of The Research Council of Norway shares his career journey from academia to industry, including being the founding CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), outlines his new role as Norway’s Global Health ambassador, and gives his thoughts on Norway’s biotech and life sciences future. 


The first lesson we learned [from managing the Ebola crisis] is that it is possible to carry out research in a low-resource setting in the midst of a crisis – such as the situation we faced in West Africa. The second lesson we learned is that, if we had been better prepared, we could have entered into phase III trials much earlier.

Read the full interview here



Ivan Cheung, Chairman, Eisai Inc.; President, Neurology Business Group, Eisai Co., Ltd.

Ivan Cheung, head of Japanese firm Eisai’s US operations, highlights the significance of a potential 2021 US FDA approval for Alzheimer’s Disease drug aducanumab, developed in collaboration with Biogen. Cheung also compares the differing challenges of the oncology and neuroscience markets and outlines the unique Eisai company culture.


We have learned that to perform well in the US, we need to have a consistently robust pipeline instead of relying on just one or two blockbusters

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Ana Hidalgo-Simon, Head of Advanced Therapies, European Medicines Agency

The EMA’s Head of Advanced Therapies Dr Ana Hidalgo-Simon outlines Europe’s evolving regulatory framework for regenerative medicines, how it differs from those in the USA and Asia, ethical and pricing challenges, and why global regulatory harmonization and collaboration is crucial.


For advanced therapies, market approval is not the end of the journey, and we really want to reach the final destination, which is having patients benefit from these therapies. Access is fundamental

Read the full interview here



Thomas Willemsen, SVP APAC, Takeda

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview, Takeda APAC SVP Thomas Willemsen outlines his strategy for bringing the company’s specialty pharma portfolio to the diverse group of countries that make up the APAC region, the potential significance of Takeda’s upcoming dengue vaccine, and what Asia’s contribution to global healthcare and life sciences can be.


The big picture trends of ageing populations and rising affluence, which lead to greater demand for specialty care products, are universal and, if anything, are moving faster in emerging markets than in the developed world

Read the full interview here





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