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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Is competition the enemy of progress and collaboration the ally of success?

By Jessica Pacey, CEO, 67health

Jessica Pacey

In an incredibly competitive environment, such as the prescription product market, there is a natural business desire to keep hard-won knowledge under lock and key. 

Yet might there also exist a genuine appetite to embrace knowledge-sharing and collaboration that inevitably accelerates progress in the field?

Movements such as the AllTrials campaign and subsequent regulatory requirements to publish all clinical trial data in recent years have shown just how willing the pharma industry is to be more transparent about its findings and responsibly share data for the common good.

By increasingly seeking patient viewpoints to shape clinical trials from conceptualisation to execution, many companies are already seeing much improved results, from trial participant retention to regulatory approval of their molecules.

However, in an industry where progress often has immeasurable human value, an overwhelming amount of time and money is still being spent on duplicated efforts, when it could be spent on building upon shared successes.

We all appreciate that pharmaceutical companies are commercial, for-profit businesses that invest heavily in the research and development of innovative new drugs, so what is the solution?

Collaboration is, in my opinion, a cornerstone behaviour that our industry should adopt – not as a box-ticking exercise, but as an innate mindset.

What exactly do I mean by collaboration? Collaboration with academia to elevate research capabilities. Collaboration with those patients living with the diseases that pharma aims to treat from the very minute the idea occurs.

Collaboration with technology companies that complement their own solutions and bring them to larger populations. Collaboration with each other.

There are fantastic examples of pharmaceutical companies collaborating with their otherwise ‘competitors’ for the greater good on both a national and international scale.

Looking to Europe, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has brought together more than 70 industry companies with other public and private partners to help researchers tackle some of the EU’s biggest health challenges through sharing their collective experience and expertise.

The International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC) delivered on its 2020 vision to develop 200 new therapies in early 2017, thanks to the success of multi-stakeholder and multi-pharma collaboration to accelerate advances.

In addition to these formal bodies, experienced agency partners may be well placed to facilitate conversations between pharma and potential collaborators, given their strong commercial understanding and a pan-industry perspective.

In the race to be the best, the gold medal will be won by pharmaceutical companies who truly collaborate to ensure the needs of patients come first.

From some of the work I’ve had the privilege of being involved with, I know some companies are more than ready to outcompete each other.


By Jessica Pacey, CEO, 67health

Jessica Pacey is CEO at 67health

25th November 2019

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