Over the next 24 hours, 353,000 babies will be born into a world that’s changing faster than ever, and they will be joining a generation of two billion people expected to be born from 2011 to 2025. Intergovernmental meetings such as the G7 and G20 provide the platform to ensure that our next generation, and their children, have greater access to care, grow up to embrace health and wellness and possibly survive diseases we consider impossible to cure today.
Dr Jane Griffiths is the Company Group Chairman of Janssen Europe, Middle East & Africa.
The healthcare issues on the table are manifold: the cost of healthcare will rise as older people make up larger proportions of countries’ populations and the prevalence of chronic illnesses increases. In addition to age related health problems such as dementia, global challenges such as obesity and diabetes, antimicrobial resistance or viral epidemics are on the rise. Though costs for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and respiratory diseases are expected to plummet, it is anticipated that over 50 per cent of global healthcare expenditure will be spent treating these three leading causes of death. Moreover, inadequate public health services can cause broader social and economic problems such as low workforce productivity.
Meeting these challenges in times such as ours with its ecological, political, social and economic changes and increased uncertainty requires more than just scientific and technological innovation. It takes increased collaboration between governments, health authorities, academia and industry with patient care at the centre. It also requires innovative financing models rewarding effectiveness and quality in care, as well as efficiency in budget management; and sustainable research and development models, applying technical innovation and medical advance in cost-effective ways.
As a healthcare company Janssen, the pharmaceutical division of Johnson & Johnson, is committed to play its part and innovation is the lifeblood of our work. Our founder, Dr Paul Janssen, was always very candid and open about the principles upon which he based his pharmaceutical research activities. He stimulated an environment that encouraged curiosity, entrepreneurship and freedom to operate for his scientists to research what they saw fit. His non-academic approach yielded swift success and resulted in the discovery and production of more than eighty transformative breakthrough medicines, four of which are listed in the WHO’s List of Essential Medicines.
Innovation helps to make possible the development of ever-more effective treatments, less invasive procedures with shorter recovery times, and improved patient outcomes. Advances in technology can help speed diagnoses, ensure medicine adherence for improved treatment outcomes, and allow for personalized real-time tracking to support prevention and facilitate positive lifestyle choices for improved health through prevention rather than cure. The development of disease interception techniques is an area of much promise for us and one which could help us all build more resilient healthcare systems If we are able to delay the development of complications and prevent chronic illnesses, decreasing overall health expenditures.
More than ever it is clear that we cannot work in isolation if we are to find solutions to the challenges before us. Innovation in healthcare is more than developing medicines that will transform the lives of patients. It’s about providing a better quality of service where the patient is at the heart of all decisions and improving access by keeping costs low.
We believe that a good idea can come from anywhere and anyone – and we seek to positively impact human health through innovation and collaboration worldwide. One of the forms this collaboration has taken is our network of Innovation Centers around the world, bringing together a network of academics, scientists, entrepreneurs and business development specialists to source the best possible solutions for unmet medical need.
Other examples of our efforts in innovation include three research platforms that have now been operational for a couple of years: The Janssen Prevention Center to advance disease prevention, The Janssen Disease Interception Accelerator to help pre-empt disease outbreak and the Janssen Human Microbiome Institute to move microbiome research from basic science to the delivery of breakthrough healthcare products. We offer our expertise to the governments and healthcare officials inviting collaboration.
This is where we need to call on governments and regulatory bodies. Biomarkers, patient perspective, real world evidence, disease interception models and diagnostics can guide healthcare delivery, yet regulation in industrialized nations has not allowed the potential to be realized. The divergence of regulatory treatment of these types of data and tools leads to delays. Modernizing and harmonising clinical trials and the collection of data and information would support such medical innovations.
We need to more effectively engage with authorities and public and private capital to ensure broad healthcare systems are sustainable for the societies in which they operate. Innovation in governance and systemic innovation are equally important. Occasions such as a meeting of the G20 and G7 may help to exchange perspectives with other players in the healthcare field and find common ground for reshaping healthcare for the people and societies of tomorrow.
How to keep innovation sustainable: a rewarding environment for risk and creativity
Recent research by the Deloitte Health Economics Group commissioned by Janssen has shown that innovation becomes more challenging for the biopharmaceutical industry: companies have had to take higher risks for potentially reduced and decreasing awards. As a company with a track record in delivering breakthrough medicine we continue to advocate for policies that help make innovation models sustainable. Steps can be taken to reduce unnecessary levels of uncertainty and to reward innovation appropriately.
The biopharmaceutical sector operates within a healthcare system that is composed of a wide variety of stakeholders, each with their own immediate concerns: patients with unmet medical needs, researchers and academia with scientific and budgetary needs, hospitals, doctors and paramedics with healthcare delivery challenges, authorities with public health concerns and issues of affordability, insurers and payers with cost-premium balances. More collaboration and a shared holistic view on where society is going with public health can strengthen an environment that fosters innovation.
Such an approach can improve the situation across the whole value chain, from early discovery, IP protection, research development and regulation, through to reimbursement policies. This would align policies and regulations more effectively to meet the healthcare goals of better patient outcomes and optimal positive impact for society.
The aforementioned report also provides new data that show that the biopharmaceutical industry is bearing high levels of uncertainty; these need to be addressed to make sure financial rewards are maintained at a level that safeguards innovation and the risk that has been taken to develop it.
Another approach that is increasingly winning grounds within the pharmaceutical industry is the move away from the transactional delivery of medicines: pharm companies usually develop and produce medicines and are paid following physical delivery. Future payment models could be based on therapeutic and patient outcomes: what is the value of x number of patients that are cured? How much long-term value to society is the eradication or control of a disease?
If our societies are to take healthcare and public health to the next level, we need to look at this together.