Failure Articles

Where the failure (success) of a drug company stems from

The economic performance should be integrated to the treatment and the social ones

Viviana Ruggieri

External Relations, Market Access & Regulatory Director Servier Group in Italy

By October 2020October 20th, 2020No Comments
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Photo by Lorenzo De Simone

The recipe for success of a company is about being able to rely on a group of motivated people who fully married its mission and values and collaborate with each other, supported by strong determination and a series of shared principles and objectives. It is disastrous to achieve results only aiming to reach financial targets while harming the quality of the workplace environment and the valorisation of the people that contributed to reaching them. This is why our company has always been paying particular attention on its employees’ professional development, caring for their quality of life, safeguarding them by offering several support activities and listening and responding to the needs of the community and its individuals.

Servier had already been largely engaged with smart working, but during lockdown, in the middle of the covid-19 emergency, it managed to put in place all its technology in order to enable home-based work and meeting attendance, so that everyone could carry on most of their activities, even sales representatives.

The sales representatives were indeed among the first ones in Italy to interrupt their in-person work. Nevertheless, they did not stop putting efforts in and valuing their role; they actually even strengthened its significance for the medical sector. Much attention and time were dedicated to training sessions to increase the scientific and technical know-hows that were necessary to safely reopen quality activities in terms of communication and content. This was only possible thanks to the collective commitment towards maintaining continued support to all employees, in line with the mission of the company, both in terms of financial sustainability and to offer treatment continuity for patients. Even though on the one hand we learned that we can work intensively and reach our targets despite working remotely, on the other hand we also valued further the interactions and physical closeness among colleagues, both in human and social terms. Work is not just operations; it is also made of professional relationships that the lack of direct contact can penalise. It seems that finding a new balance between “pre and post” covid-19 is now a crucial challenge, which in our case found its equilibrium between a mixture of remote and in-person work.

Safety, flexibility and the level of productivity are guaranteed and allow to create the right social dimension that not only concerns the company internally but necessarily projects externally as well.

We should keep in mind that for drug companies innovation undoubtedly constitutes a successful strategic leverage factor. However, the medicinal product alone, even the most innovative one, is not enough. Whenever one of the targets of the company is to increase its financial value- by sharing that among all the individuals involved in the project, from those developing the idea to those that utilise the final product- it is as important for the company that the patient can benefit from it and reach his/her treatment goals. This is the reason why we made a strong commitment to support patients, not only towards their access to treatments but also during their treatment journey, promoting actions that facilitate, in an appropriate and continuative manner, their adherence to the physician’s prescriptions.

Success is the result of the synthesis between achieving financial and health objectives, which nowadays are connected more than ever.

We know that, if taken correctly and for the specified length of time, a drug achieves its purpose; otherwise the benefits showed in clinical trials that led to its market approval and demonstrated its value cannot be seen. This result is not only valuable to the company but also to the system of the country in terms of its economic and social consequences- due to the waste of generated resources- that in practice fall onto the citizen himself. It is a worry that is shared by both the support services for people suffering with chronic conditions and the oncological treatment support. They are different areas where different phenomena can be observed: a common issue for cardiovascular diseases can be defined as “drug zapping”, a form of restlessness that leads the patient “skipping” from one treatment to the other due to the uncertainty over the efficacy of the prescribed drugs or due to the feeling of having resolved one’s problems. In the oncological sector, the failure to access certain therapies can be due to the excessive caution of the healthcare system or to the clinicians’ preference towards consolidated treatments. These are the reasons that motivate companies like ours to support educational activities aimed at those who can promote and safeguard the appropriateness of prescriptions and the adherence to treatment, making the patient the active and informed protagonist of his/her treatment plan.

Therefore success is the result of the synthesis between achieving financial and health objectives, which nowadays are connected more than ever, without losing track of the actions taken in terms of social responsibility. This is an essential target for any company that wishes to integrate well with the socioeconomic framework of the country.

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