Making a Difference

Assuming the Chairmanship of PhRMA

By Olivier Brandicourt, CEO Sanofi

CEO Olivier Brandicourt

Scientific revolutions are often difficult to recognize in real time. The gaps between scientific breakthroughs and triumphant improvements in patient care are often long, and the work of translating greater understanding of biology into tomorrow’s medicines is painstaking.

But there is no doubt that we are experiencing an extraordinary period of advancement in our care of patients. Seeds planted two and three decades ago with foundational work in genetic medicine, immunology, and next-generation biologics are now bearing results.

Today, we have therapies that cure diseases at the genetic level – one of the Holy Grails of biotechnology. We can empower the immune system to attack cancer, with the promise of more durable responses. Our arsenal of treatments has massively expanded, from antibodies that can reach multiple targets to medicines that manipulate cells into skipping over damaged parts of DNA.

But with these advances come new challenges. The structure around which we have developed drugs for the better part of a century has not yet been optimized for new technologies, and the systems by which we pay for medicines was, similarly, not designed for the coming age of powerful and potentially curative therapies.

For instance, we’re now using information technology to rapidly expand the data we can gather about health, including patient-reported information, and real-world data. This kind of data, which is more robust than ever before, is not a replacement for controlled clinical trial data, but it offers a critical new perspective that can be used to better determine which treatments are developed and which patients should receive them. Ensuring that there are no roadblocks to using such information to improve patient care should be a shared priority of industry, academics, and government.

Similarly, we need to work together to re-think the health care system, particularly in the United States, to make sure that obstacles are not placed in the way of patients receiving the life-changing therapies that they require. We in the biopharmaceutical industry have a duty to align prices with the value we bring to patients, while government and insurance companies have an obligation to remove the regulatory and financial barriers to access.

Today, I assume the chairmanship of PhRMA, the unified voice of our industry. It is an important responsibility, made even more crucial in the context of the revolution in medicine through which we are now living. It is not enough to celebrate these advances. My pledge in this position is to ensure patients will be foremost in all policymaking, and I will continue our steadfast commitment to building a health system that maximizes both access and innovation.