New York Pharma Forum explores ‘The Reinvention of Pharma’

NEW YORK — At the New York Pharma Forum’s 26th General Assembly, held Dec. 7 4 at the historic New York Athletic Club, global pharmaceutical leaders came together to share their views on and participate in a panel discussion about “The Reinvention of Pharma. 
The panel was preceded by individual presentations by each of the participants — Akihiko Matsubara, managing director of the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association; Laurie Olson, Pfizer’s EVP strategy, portfolio and commercial operations; and Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A president Ramona Sequeira — as well as the facilitator, Ed Saltzman, president and founder of Defined Health. 
“We reinvent pharma every few years, we’re always reinventing pharma, but you don’t see the drastic changes on a daily basis,” Saltzman said. “This is why it’s a great value to step back and realize that we do in fact live in a changing time with serious challenges to our current business model.”
Saltzman’s presentation focused on the innovation that has driven the growth of the industry this year while noting that the industry’s model is changing, with drugs meant to treat heterogeneous populations and chronic illnesses being overtaken — at least in terms of R&D — by high-priced drugs for small patient populations. He also noted that this focus has a tendency to overlook mental, neurological and musculoskeletal disorders that have the largest economic impact. 
Offering a global outlook, Matsubara discussed JPMA’s efforts to support globalization with a focus on emerging market, and the Japanese government’s support of biopharmaceutical innovation, establishing the Agency for Medical Research and Development. AMED will provide assistance for research and accelerated development, and support networks that will help bring innovative drugs to patients. Additionally, he discussed the trust that Japanese consumers have in the pharmaceutical industry. 
“While the reputation of the biopharmaceutical industry is low in many countries, this is not the case in Japan, where 84 percent of respondents to a JPMA survey expressed feelings of trust towards the industry,” he said. 
Sequeira’s presentation focused on the need to adapt to a changing market, noting that Takeda has been working to develop innovative therapies while fostering strategic partnerships and assistance programs to increase patient access. The most important things to keep in mind, she said, are the changing care models, cost containment and rapid technology uptake. 
 “The increase in negotiating power of the payers is affecting our business and our companies and means we need to partner with them in a more tailored way to ensure patients get access to our innovation,” she said.
Olson rounded out the panel with a presentation on the demographic, social, technological, political, economic and scientific factors that are shaping the industry, and the role that consumerism is playing in how companies approach patients. 
“There is a growing sense of empowerment among our patient population,” she said. “Patients around the world are taking a more proactive role in their own healthcare.”
Olson also noted the new role that technology companies are playing in the development of healthcare technology, and the potential transformations collaborations with these companies, academia and public organizations could bring to the industry. 
The organization’s annual meeting, at which Thomas Heffner, preceded the panel, Pfizer’s executive director of global business development was re-elected president. Sunovion Pharmaceuticals’ head of global development administration was elected vice president, Kyorin USA president Yasuhiko Sakoe was elected secretary and Merck’s executive director of strategic alliances, Kenji Kaneko, was named treasurer. 
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