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Pharma needs to be “revered by society”

Janssen’s Jane Griffiths and EFPIA chief Richard Bergstrom speak at eyeforpharma conference

Janssen Jane GriffithsThe pharma industry needs to build trust among healthcare providers in order to create collaborations necessary to take a holistic approach to patient care, according to leading industry figures.

Speaking at the eyeforpharma conference in Barcelona this week, Jane Griffiths, company group chairman responsible for the EMEA region, said: “We have to be an industry that is revered by society and right now it isn't.”

Referencing industry reputation surveys, such as the PatientView poll for 2013, Griffiths (pictured right) told delegates that consistent low rankings of pharma “drives me insane”.

She explained: “If you see our contribution to life expectancy and quality of life, we make huge differences to society and to health but yet we're not recognised. And part of that is because of how we are viewed as an industry - past behaviours that taint how people think of us - and because of that, it is difficult to set up partnerships.”

These collaborations are increasingly essential, however, as pharma companies need to change their business model to one that is focused on patient centricity and providing a full healthcare service, rather than just marketing medicines, said Griffiths.

For Janssen, this is taking a practical form via such projects as a homecare service in oncology and a programme to improve mental health adherence, but more needs to be done in order to create truly patient centric care, and building trust is an integral part of this process.

Speaking to PMLiVE, Griffiths added: “These collaborations can be productive and we can be a trusted party. It's not until you get deep into a project that people can see you are a normal human being who has patient interests at heart.

“We need to close that gap in trust between healthcare providers and industry. Where you work with stakeholders more closely you can start to build that. It's where you don't have an opportunity to speak to someone directly to explain what you do and articulate that clearly - and when people only read nasty stuff in the press - you can understand why reputation diverges.”

Bergstrom: "We are suffering from past behaviours"

This desire to improve pharma trust was backed by the chairman of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA) Richard Bergstrom, who was also presenting at the eyeforpharma conference.

“We are suffering from past behaviours,” he told PMLiVE, explaining that he has member companies who do not understand why pharma has a poor reputation.

However, companies should not assume that stakeholders are registering the changes happening in pharma to move towards creating a more ethical business model, said Bergstrom, who added: “they think they know us”.

“But if there is an interview with a CEO of an EFPIA company in the newspaper they skip over. They go to a conference and one of my guys is talking then they are on their iPad,” he added.

“It's not until you go to them and talk things through and say 'do you know that we've done this' that they realise and go 'oh that's interesting'.”

EFPIA is making attempts to turn this thought around through greater transparency, however, including regulation to ensure all payments to healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations are reported and a new set of principles for the sharing of clinical trial data, which has been influenced by recent criticism of pharma's lack of transparency on the matter.

“We are pushing to really be honest and open about what we are doing,” Bergstrom told PMLiVE. “For anyone in the sector this is a time of some pain – with transparency it can be seen the CME world is predominantly funded by industry and most of the scientific congresses rely more or less on company support. But this is an opportunity to be honest about what we do.

“If you look at our relationship with healthcare professionals and with regulators, these are relationships based on respect, integrity and increasing transparency.

“We need to keep talking about our values, what we stand for and what we are doing. Don't assume people know.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

20th March 2014

From: Sales, Marketing, Healthcare



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