Beyond The Printed Page | November 30, 2017

Diverse Perspectives — Insights for 2018 From Biopharma's Leading Women

Source: Life Science Leader

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL

When recruiting for last year’s executive outlook article, What 13 Life Science Trendsetters Expect For 2017 And Beyond, I made a concerted effort to have diversity well represented. And while we succeeded in getting a wide cross section of diverse opinions from very different organizations, I failed when it came to having female life science leaders well represented. This year Life Science Leader had 12 CEOs agree to participate (the highest number of CEOs to ever take part in this article), and five of these are women. Unfortunately, one of the challenges faced by print publications is space limitations. And when you have a high rate of participation by top female executives that include:

  • Heather Bresch, CEO, Mylan
  • Michelle Dipp, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Director, General Atlantic (former CEO of OvaScience):
  • Rachel Haurwitz, Ph.D., CEO Caribou Biosciences
  • Julia Owens, Ph.D., CEO, Millendo Therapeutics
  • Lynn Seely, M.D., CEO, Myovant Sciences

No matter how hard you try, it simply isn’t possible to print all of the great insight received. Fortunately, a few years ago we created our Beyond The Printed Page exclusive online feature. And while Beyond The Printed Page does not require a subscription, Life Science Leader does. So if you don’t want to miss out on seeing what else these five women (along with the seven other CEO participants) have to say regarding what biopharma can expect for 2018 and beyond, subscribe today, and enter coupon code LSC29 to take advantage of our $29 holiday special promotion. We hope you enjoy this latest installment of Life Science Leader’s Beyond The Printed Page.

What Global Macro Trends Do You Anticipate Having The Biggest Impact On Biopharma In 2018?
Heather Bresch, Mylan: The world’s aging population will have a huge impact on our industry. It is estimated that the number of people over age 65 globally will almost double to 1.6 billion from 2025 to 2050. During this same period, the total population will grow by about 34 percent. As the elderly population grows, and birth rates in many countries continue to decline, we can expect increased pressure on health systems and pharmaceutical companies. There is a need for greater transparency in how medicines are priced, and patients will increasingly demand more information to make informed choices at the pharmacy. As these forces merge, we as an industry need to be ready with innovative and affordable options.

What U.S. Macro Trend Do You Anticipate Having The Biggest Impact On Biopharma In 2018?
Rachel Haurwitz, Ph.D., Caribou Biosciences: The current American political climate is leaving the biopharmaceutical industry with a lack of clarity on various significant issues such as tax reform, the future of healthcare, and immigration. How and when each of these issues is resolved (or not) may have a profound impact, either positively or negatively, on potential M&A, funding, and the industry’s ability to continue to recruit top science and business minds from across the globe. In the absence of clear federal direction, some of these issues are being championed by individual states, and as such, we may find significant differences in the relative opportunities afforded businesses, including biopharma companies, at the state level.

Lynn Seely, M.D., Myovant Sciences: The remarkable dearth of women in leadership positions in the high tech, biopharmaceutical, venture capital, banking, and film industries (to name just a few), and the discrimination and even abuse of women by men in leadership, have filled the news in 2017. As awareness grows of the need for more women in executive leadership roles and as directors, the biopharmaceutical industry must respond by improving the status and representation of women. The industry is already suffering from a less than optimal reputation and has real opportunity to positively distinguish itself by becoming a leader for change. This is not a pipeline issue, as almost 50 percent of the biopharmaceutical industry workforce are already women. An impactful response in 2018 will require investment and commitment across the industry to raise awareness, ensure an adequate pool of female candidates is considered for each leadership position, provide incentives for leaders who hire and promote diverse teams, and to provide visible and engaged female role models on boards. It is proven that a diverse leadership team with at least 20 percent women improves financial performance. More female leaders today serve to motivate and inspire our next generation of women leaders, resulting in a reinforcing positive feedback loop.

What Innovative Company Or Person Outside Of Biopharma Do You Pay Attention To?
Michelle Dipp, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Director, General Atlantic (former CEO of OvaScience): Arianna Huffington, via the creation of the Huffington Post, changed the way information was collected and consumed. Now, with her new company, Thrive Global, she is focused on wellness in the workplace, and uses concrete metrics to make a business case that cannot be ignored. The concept is a game changer – partnering with companies to demonstrate the return on investment for valuing the health of their employees. We all know we feel great when we sleep well, exercise regularly, and eat right, but actually measuring the impact of wellness on business productivity and a company’s bottom line creates a platform that will enable the tools and technologies of the future.

How Should Biopharma Prepare For An Environment Where Workers Are Moving Toward “On-Demand” Employment?
Julia Owens, Ph.D., Millendo Therapeutics: The availability of “on-demand” workers has been, and will continue to be, a benefit to smaller biotechnology companies. Biopharma requires experience from a large spectrum of areas, ranging from biology and chemistry, but also encompassing regulatory affairs, pharmacokinetics, manufacturing and even business development. Most companies, especially early in their life, can’t afford to have experts in all these areas in-house, and often there is not a sufficient workload to keep someone in these areas busy on full time basis. Being able to access highly experienced talent has made it possible for smaller companies to succeed with a core team of employees, complemented by a network of consultants. In many cases, retaining experts on a part-time consulting basis allows a higher level of expertise than small company could afford to hire fulltime. And for those highly experienced consultants, it gives them the opportunity to work on multiple programs, often with much more flexibility and excellent compensation. Overall, the new “gig economy”, combined with the greater availability of high quality contract research organizations, is a boon to the continued success of innovative small biopharma companies.

What Biopharmaceutical Industry Specific Trends Do You Find Most Exciting And Why?
Bresch: The growing consumerization of healthcare, which is empowering consumers to take charge of their own health. Healthcare companies have an opportunity to help empower consumers to live well by focusing on disease prevention and health awareness. And when people do get sick, we need to do more to help patients manage their disease holistically, not just with medicines, but through access to information, technology and adherence programs. As such, we have a huge opportunity to make our health system more patient-centric.

What Trends/Technologies From Non-Healthcare Related Industries Do You Anticipate Impacting Biopharma?
Seely: It is easier than ever for people to go online and share their stories and experiences. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, in addition to other platforms, have created whole industries around self-expression and community. Increasingly, these technologies allow patients to educate the world about their diseases. Now patients can “crowd-source” advocacy in supportive environments and demand the biopharmaceutical industry develop cost-effective and innovative treatments that address their needs. Too often biopharma neglects to develop drugs for diseases that are not socially acceptable to talk about; diseases where patients are silently suffering because it is too embarrassing to discuss; even with those closest to them. Women’s health is a perfect example. Social embarrassment and stigma prevent women from voicing concerns about irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, infertility, and many other issues. This self-censorship hides the true burden of common and debilitating diseases, and stifles innovation for millions. As more people use social media to share their personal journeys, biopharma will have the opportunity to reassess the biggest opportunities for drug development in the years to come.

What’s Going To Be Big In Biopharma In 2018?
Bresch: Drug pricing is going to continue to be a huge issue in 2018. As more people in the U.S. obtain high-deductible health plans, customers are presenting to the pharmacy essentially as cash paying customers. We need more transparency to enable them to shop and compare healthcare purchases. We need to make the healthcare marketplace one that is driven by consumer preferences, so Americans can shop for the highest-quality product at the lowest price. Consumers being able to evaluate the best treatment options will create a market driven environment. At the same time, the importance of generic medicines seems to be getting lost in the dialogue on drug pricing. In the last decade, generic drugs have saved the U.S. healthcare system $1.67 trillion. In 2016 alone, generics generated $253 billion in savings. Nearly 3.9 billion of the total 4.4 billion prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. are for generics. That’s equivalent to generics accounting for almost 90 percent of prescriptions, but only 26 percent of the cost. High-quality lower-cost generic medicines not only improve access for all patients, but are key to tackling rising healthcare costs and offer significant value to all stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem.

Haurwitz: Gene editing will make a big splash in the clinic in 2018. Clinical trials in the coming year will evaluate various gene editing technologies including CRISPR-Cas9, zinc finger nucleases, and TALENs. Many companies have announced intentions to move programs into the clinic. Examples include CRISPR Therapeutics’ lead program to treat beta-thalassemia, Editas Medicine’s program to treat Leber congenital amaurosis, Cellectis’ evaluation of TALEN-edited “off-the-shelf” CAR-T therapies, and Sangamo’s zinc finger nuclease-based treatments for beta-thalassemia, hemophilia, and polysaccharide metabolism disorders. Some of Sangamo’s investigational treatments will be the first ever attempts at therapeutic editing in vivo, an exciting step forward for the field.