Stories about: Nurjana Bachman

BioPharm 2011: Finding the healthcare value in pharmaceutical development

(David Sky, Creative Commons License 2004-2011)

“Value is more important than innovation,” declared Angus Russell, CEO of Shire Pharmaceuticals, in his opening keynote address at Biopharm America last week. At a drug development conference, where attendees typically focus on interesting new ways to address therapeutic problems, that sounded a bit heretical.

But it was a telling example of how cost pressures are now manifesting in pharma. Some complex treatments can be new and innovative, but not provide measurable improvement in patient outcomes. Can we conclude that they have no value? This has been one of the central questions fueling the debate over U.S. healthcare reform, and will influence development of medicines into the future.

Hospitals and others have been asked for some time to show that they can provide the same level of care for lower cost. Now, it’s pharma’s turn.

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Children’s partnership with Pfizer: A new way to speed therapeutic development

Over the past nine months, Pfizer has built collaborations with a number of premiere academic medical centers, including Children’s Hospital Boston. Wednesday marked the launch of the Boston branch of Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI), fostering independent collaborations with seven Boston institutions. The CTI aims to facilitate and support joint drug discovery and development — from the conception of an idea through early clinical trials.

So why is Children’s Hospital Boston, the #1 pediatric hospital in the country with an annual research base of $225 million, entering into a partnership with Pfizer? Simply, Pfizer has complementary knowledge, resources and infrastructure to support a number of our therapeutic projects. Pfizer, and other companies, can help us move early-stage discoveries out of the lab and safely into the clinic more quickly than we could on our own, ultimately supporting our mission.

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Can we tackle the health care system’s ills with learned optimism?

You’ll almost never hear innovators say, ‘Can we do something?’ You will sometimes hear them say, ‘How can we do something?’

I heard this last week from Kim Smith, a founding team member of Teach For America and founder/CEO of Bellwether Education Partners, at MIT’s Innovation in Healthcare Symposium. It reminded me of the innovators at our hospital, whose problem-solving visions we try to push toward real products.

Solving problems in the health care system itself seemed a far more daunting task. I arrived at the symposium thinking about the entrenched interests keeping current systems in place — the way doctors are trained, the way companies in health care create competitive barriers to information sharing, the pharmaceutical industry’s business model, the fact that insurance companies are incentivized not to cover sick people. The list goes on.

But I left this gathering feeling uplifted and inspired.

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