In the second half of October, the heads of the largest international companies in various sectors of the economy operating in the Russian Federation will gather at a meeting of the Foreign Investment Advisory Council under the Government of the Russian Federation.
On the eve of the meeting of FIAC “RG”, Chief Executive Officer of Sanofi Paul Hudson spoke about how the global health care is changing, how innovations affect the economy and what changes in the business climate stimulate the inflow of investments into the pharmaceutical industry.
Mr. Hudson, we cannot yet speak of a complete victory over the pandemic and a return to normal life, but there are already vaccines, drugs and diagnostics developed in different countries that are helping to fight COVID-19, alleviating the burden of the disease and its impact on the global economy … How, in your opinion, will the situation develop further, what are international pharmaceutical companies doing for this?
Paul Hudson: Since the start of the pandemic, government agencies, scientists, the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry have been working closely to combat COVID-19. As tragic as this pandemic was, it showed that we can unite and move towards a common goal. With the increasing availability of vaccines around the world and ongoing research into therapy, we are consistently moving towards containment and control of the pandemic. As our public health focus begins to shift with COVID-19, it becomes more important to carefully examine the indirect, side effects of the pandemic on other diseases, such as cancer. For example, the fact that the reduction in screening tests in the early stages of the disease due to a pandemic may lead to an increase in cancer in the future.
Influenced by the pandemic and factors such as the rapid development of new digital technologies, significant changes are taking place in health systems. What key trends would you highlight here? How do they affect the development of the pharmaceutical industry and investments?
Paul Hudson: A new wave of therapeutic innovation lies ahead. Photo: Jean Chiscano
Paul Hudson: In our industry, it is very important to be guided not only by our own deep expertise in the field of science, but also to take into account the opinions of patients and healthcare professionals, as well as integrate the data we receive and technology into our work. The future of the pharmaceutical industry depends on this. Leveraging digital technology will help us accelerate innovation and improve the quality of life for people. In addition, it is very important that digitalization permeates all elements of the healthcare system, including patients, authorities and the medical community. Physicians play a key role in the successful implementation of digital technologies in the patient community – we celebrated this by launching a pilot project on a new integrated approach to diabetes care in Russia.
Given the changes in the regulation of the circulation of drugs around the world, is the situation becoming more complicated or, on the contrary, more favorable for wide access of innovations to the market? How do you see the situation in Russia?
Paul Hudson: We are at the beginning of an exciting new wave of therapeutic innovation in many areas – such as oncology, immunology, infectious diseases and many others. But for patients to gain access to these innovations, it is necessary to perceive innovative drugs not as an additional financial burden on health systems, but as an investment. The attention of society and the state should be focused primarily on the health of the population – without this there can be no sustainable economic development.
Public health focus begins to shift from COVID-19 to pandemic side effects
In recent years, Russia has made significant progress in improving access to innovation. However, we can move further in this direction by adopting a differentiated approach to health technology assessment and introducing modern procurement models that help optimize government budgets for subsidized drug programs.
Sanofi is one of the major investors in the Russian pharmaceutical industry, has its own production facilities in Russia and has traditionally been actively involved in the work of FIAC for several years. What topics are you going to raise at the next FIAC session?
Paul Hudson: The Foreign Investment Advisory Council is a unique, very important platform for cooperation and exchange of experience between industries, multinational companies and government officials. Since the last FIAC meeting, the industry has been able to establish an open and constructive dialogue with the ministries of health and finance on access to innovation, thanks to the momentum given by the Russian government. I am honored to represent the pharmaceutical industry at the 2021 FIAC meeting and have the opportunity to share proposals with the government to improve patient access to innovation.
Today, R&D is dominated by small specialized companies focused on creating a particular technology or innovative product. Does this mean that the contract manufacturing format is becoming the leading model for the largest pharmaceutical companies?
Paul Hudson: Small biotech companies and large pharmaceutical companies complement each other perfectly. We are united by a common goal – to change the lives of patients for the better. Sometimes biotech companies develop faster, but big market players can have a greater impact on the lives of people around the world. A good example of this collaboration is Sanofi’s recently announced intention to acquire a small biotech company, Kadmon, which has developed a first-in-class drug for transplant patients. Once the transaction is completed, we will work with regulators around the world and use our expertise to help as many patients as possible.
Where are the COVID-19 vaccines being developed by Sanofi now? When can your vaccine be available to patients?
Paul Hudson: Our response to a crisis is always based on one goal – to do the right thing. Therefore, today we are the only pharmaceutical company that uses our manufacturing facilities around the world to manufacture and supply three different COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, as one of the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers, we are continuing our efforts to develop an adjuvant recombinant candidate vaccine in partnership with GSK. This vaccine has the potential to play a significant role in the fight against the pandemic as a booster.
The attention of society and the state should be focused primarily on the health of the population – without this there can be no sustainable economic development
We are now awaiting positive research findings and regulatory opinions. According to our estimates, they will be published approximately at the end of 2021. While we’re on hold, production of the recombinant COVID-19 vaccine has already begun.
You have over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. What do you think will contribute to the leadership in farming in the near future?
Paul Hudson: The next generation of leaders are people who are accustomed to receiving information through digital channels, able to interpret data, quickly navigate in it and make more effective decisions based on it. But don’t forget about your interpersonal skills, starting with empathy and listening. If you develop them correctly, it will be easier to lead a team in an ever-changing environment and create a work environment in which people will feel safe and reveal all their talents.
The Foreign Investment Advisory Council of the Government of the Russian Federation includes representatives of six major international pharmaceutical companies: Abbott Laboratories USA, AstraZeneca, Bayer AG, Novartis AG, Sanofi and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. All of them are major investors in the Russian pharmaceutical industry.
Three other pharmaceutical companies have observer status on the Advisory Board: Merck KGaA, Novo Nordisk A / S and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.