Magazine Article | May 5, 2010

Convergence, Collaboration Essential To Healthcare Innovation

Source: Life Science Leader

By Paul Pomerantz

This is a changing time for the biopharmaceutical and healthcare communities. In order to remain at the forefront, the Drug Information Association (DIA) must evolve to serve a dramatically new healthcare landscape. DIA’s evolution can be seen through the association’s new vision statement:

DIA is the global forum for knowledge exchange that fosters innovation to raise the level of health and well-being worldwide.

One of the areas that DIA is going to grapple with during the next few years is the shift from the traditional view of the biopharmaceutical industry to a more complete industry that includes a range of technologies and innovations. There is a convergence of technologies — from vaccines, diagnostics, medical devices, biomaterials, and stem cell research — and blurred boundaries between drugs and a whole range of medical innovation that serves patients. Furthermore, healthcare regulation is expanding into a larger arena for health innovation where comparative effectiveness, health outcomes, and new therapeutic approaches may grow in importance. For many years, the government has regulated drugs and devices and supported biomedical research, but the goal was usually to establish if a particular treatment was safe and effective, not if it was better than the alternatives. Comparative effectiveness research is now part of the national healthcare reform bill as a mechanism for improving the quality of healthcare and for decreasing healthcare spending. The aim of comparative effectiveness research is to improve health outcomes by developing and disseminating evidence-based information to patients, providers, and healthcare decision makers about the effectiveness of treatments relative to other options.

Long term, we will see a greater convergence and greater collaboration among industry, the medical community, and patient-oriented groups, as well as governments and regulatory agencies, to try to solve problems and make sure healthcare is being provided in the most cost-effective and quality-oriented manner possible. DIA will remain at the forefront by creating new forums for addressing major issues in healthcare, such as comparative effectiveness, health outcomes, evidence-based medicine/health technology assessment, and new therapeutic approaches.

These themes, and many others, will be discussed at the 46th DIA Annual Meeting, which will be held in Washington, D.C., from June 13 through 17. Program chairperson Gaby Danan and the Annual Meeting Program Committee have assembled an outstanding conference that will be kicked off by the keynote speaker, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. In addition, we have developed a couple of timely hot topics that we are featuring as part of a new “Super Tuesday.” These are:

  •  Implications of Comparative Effectiveness Research for Healthcare Innovation
  • The New Landscape for Industry-Profession Relations — From Policy to Practice
  • Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) Compliance Update: Effective Enforcement Strategies
  • Implications of Healthcare Reform for Product Safety and the Pharmaceutical Industry.

With the growing attention on quality, access, and cost of safe medications, DIA will play a significant role in improving healthcare worldwide. Rest assured, as we examine how we have traditionally created educational programs and the methods and venues we have used to bring our volunteer members together, we will focus all our energies on providing invaluable forums to exchange vital information and discuss current issues related to health products, technologies, and services; delivering customized learning experiences; building, maintaining, and facilitating trusted relationships with and among individuals and organizations that drive and share DIA values and mandates; and offering a multidisciplinary neutral environment, respected globally for integrity and relevancy.

As worldwide executive director of the DIA, Paul Pomerantz is responsible for implementing the association’s strategic plan and directing its global operations. He brings to DIA 30 years of executive experience with specialized expertise in health policy, medical society management, and healthcare administration. Prior to DIA, Paul served as executive vice president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).