Pol Vandenbroucke’s interview about the future of the industry
Pol Vandenbroucke, Chief Medical Officer of the Hospital Business Unit at Pfizer, talks with PharmaPhorum on the importance of data and patient centricity.
Tell us about your current role. I am the chief medical officer of Pfizer’s Hospital Business Unit. The Hospital BU is a global Business Unit comprised of Pfizer’s branded hospital products, its sterile injectable portfolio, and its anti-infective portfolio, spanning many different therapeutic areas and products. As the CMO for the BU, I am responsible for a global medical in-country organization as well as a headquarter staff that supports the different product groups.
What are likely to be the biggest trends and changes that will affect your work in 2019? Without doubt, patient centricity is the most important factor in changing the way we work. Whereas previously we inferred patients’ input through our engagement with the medical community, patient engagement is now essential not only in order to develop new drugs but also to provide insights for medicines that are already approved and on the market. For some therapeutic areas this is more straightforward than others: for rare diseases for instance there tend to be well-established patient organisations who have a good knowledge of the development process; for other diseases that is much more difficult and it can be problematic to find input that is representative of the general patient population that has the disease. Patients’ view of pharma has changed as well, as patients are demanding to be heard, and in my view, that is a very good thing.
What role does data play in the future of your business? We have always been in the data business as developing medicines is in essence developing data around a molecule, be it on efficacy, safety, drug interactions, etc. The difference for the future is the way artificial intelligence will revolutionise the way we look for possible solutions for diseases and how we produce and analyse the evidence supporting them. This is both an opportunity and a threat for the pharmaceutical industry, as on the one hand it will enable a much faster and efficient discovery and development effort but, on the other, companies like Google and others are much more advanced than we are in terms of gathering and analysing large data sets.
Pol Vandenbroucke, MD, MSc, MBA, FFPM, his career has been dedicated to Clinical Development and Medical Affairs in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. He is an IFAPP Academy Module Coordinator and steering committee member. Member of the Board, BioVentures for Global Health; Member of the Advisory Board of the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; Fellow of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal Colleges of Medicine of the United Kingdom and member of its Fellowship and Awards Committee Lead Tutor and Advisor on Curriculum Content, Pharmaceutical Medicine Program, Karolinska Institute.
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