BOSTON--(Wolfe Laboratories, Inc. (WLI) joined with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and AstraZeneca to host a panel discussion on the political and economic challenges facing the biopharmaceutical industry. Janet Wolfe, Ph.D., President of WLI and Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year, moderated the discussion and questioned panel members amidst a sold-out audience at AstraZeneca’s Waltham facility.)--
“champion a cause that will have staggeringly positive effect on our economy and society’s wellbeing.”
Participating in the expert panel were Bill Huyett, M.B.A., Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company; Una Ryan, Ph.D., O.B.E., President and CEO of Waltham Technologies Inc.; and Cecilia Schott, PharmD, M.B.A., Business Development Director at AstraZeneca.
Janet kicked off the evening by commenting on how healthcare spending affects the economy. “Healthcare spending in 2008 accounted for 16.5 % of the GDP, or about $2.4 trillion. According to the Congressional Budget Office, unless we reform healthcare, it will grow to 25 % of the GDP by 2025,” Janet stated. From these data, she concluded that healthcare reform represents a vast opportunity for President Barack Obama to “champion a cause that will have staggeringly positive effect on our economy and society’s wellbeing.”
She also discussed the significance of increasing funds for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “The FDA budget is currently $2.4 billion,” stated Janet. “Considering that the FDA is responsible for the safety of products that account for one third of the U.S. gross domestic product, one must ask: don’t they need more funding?” Janet concluded that to improve healthcare, the Obama administration’s proposed stimulus package should also include increased financial support to scientific research.
The discussion transitioned to the worldwide expansion of the biopharmaceutical industry. Una Ryan lent her expertise in the area of globalization to describe the complex issue of global access to medicines and pricing concerns. “We have an ethical responsibility to see that our medicines get to everyone that needs them. The question is: how should the industry do it?” Una stated. Although she noted that “tiered pricing and dual markets are two ways the industry can help the developing world,” she added that tiered pricing mechanisms might collapse, leaving biopharma to accept lower margins.
Bill Huyett added that boosting efficiency and maximizing talent will help combat the trend of decreasing margins within the biopharmaceutical industry. He noted that biopharma will eventually shift from the current blockbuster strategy to a model fueled primarily by revenues from personalized medicine. However, Bill cautioned that this change will not occur overnight, and that the core science and economics of large revenue compounds aimed at large disease classes will persist for the next decade or “until personalized medicines really economically practical.”
Bill also offered advice to prospective and current employees of the biopharmaceutical industry by emphasizing the importance of international experience, especially in India and China. “Experience in these emerging marketplaces, whether three weeks or three years, is highly demanded by biopharmaceutical companies as the industry becomes increasingly global,” he concluded.
About Wolfe Laboratories, Inc. (WLI)
Founded in 1999, WLI is a pharmaceutical development company located in Watertown, MA that offers a variety of customized pre-clinical services, including pre-formulation and formulation development, analytical method development and characterization, PK and in vitro ADME bioanalytical development, dose formulation stability and uniformity assessment, lyophilization cycle development, IND enabling and GLP/GMP analytical testing and method validation services. For more information, visit www.wolfelabs.com.