Category: Business News
This year our industry has worked tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 virus, including developing effective therapeutics to treat COVID-19 and vaccines to prevent future infections. At the same time, the nation’s political environment remained turbulent, and systemic societal issues were brought to the forefront, all while we continued to socially distance and readjust our work and personal lives around the pandemic.
I had the opportunity to connect with outgoing PhRMA chairman Giovanni Caforio, Chairman and CEO of Bristol Myers Squibb, about the remarkable year that was 2020, how the innovative biopharmaceutical industry will continue to address patients’ needs, and why he is hopeful for the future.
Stephen Ubl (SU): While this year has been challenging for us all, there have been bright spots, like watching people, companies and governments work together to fight this pandemic. I think people are starting to see just how difficult the R&D process is and how our industry works on behalf of patients. How do you think COVID-19 will impact the publics’ long-term appreciation of science and the industry?
Giovanni Caforio (GC): I think the pandemic and the response of the pharmaceutical industry has given the public intimate insight into the way this industry works – the complexity of processes related to developing and testing treatments, the investment and infrastructure needed to advance them, and the real value medicines can provide in advancing human health. When medicines and vaccines suddenly become topics of intense interest for everyone in the world, the role of industry and our researchers in advancing science and addressing public health challenges becomes more prominent and better understood.
That said, COVID-19 has amplified many challenges facing health care systems around the world. And with COVID-19 cases again on the rise, we are not out of the woods yet. We know as an industry we can do better in many areas. We will continue to build on the fruitful learnings we have gained from combatting COVID-19, which have demonstrated the positive impact of greater levels of collaboration and the role of technology in medicine development. Elsewhere, we can do more and have a significant role to play in contributing to addressing health inequalities. Many companies are instituting real change to ensure diverse communities are represented in the medicine development process, while also establishing strategies to ensure all patients can obtain the medicines they need, regardless of socioeconomic, racial, and geographical differences.
Our progress and initial successes demonstrate the possibilities inherent in medical innovation and what can be achieved when the world’s scientists, researchers, governments and health organizations join together to promote the development of innovative medicines. It is important that we do not lose the momentum created during the last few months.
Published: June 20, 2021