We live in incredible times. AIDS is now largely treatable and preventable, cancer deaths are dropping, and gene therapy is advancing the war on disease. Innovation in the biotechnology industry is moving faster than ever before. Yet, much of our global population continues to lack access to even the most basic of healthcare options.
Panelists in today’s session, “The Changing Global Face of Biotechnology: Opportunities and Challenges for Healthcare Systems” came together to address solutions to these issues in the wake of these new breakthroughs.
Quentin Palfrey, Co-Director of Global Access in Action, called for improved global information sharing of research by private firms to expedite the development of cures for diseases that primarily affect poor populations, and for which there is often insufficient research funding. Palfrey went on to advocate for differential pricing strategies in countries that have both rich and poor populations as an effective way of distributing life-saving drugs to underserved communities in countries with wide income divides.
Fritz Bittenbender, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs at Genentech, noted that biopharma pricing continues to be a major issue that must be comprehensively addressed – both in the U.S. and internationally. While this is an issue companies and the industry on whole have been proactively addressing for some time, two major obstacles to global access remain: payor systems and regulatory delays.
Panel moderator Chris Smith, also known as “The Naked Scientist,” noted that populations within some of the world’s most underserved countries are growing at an unsustainable rate and continue to lack access to fundamental sanitation. To achieve workable solutions that improve global health, all the relevant players, including industry, hospitals, global regulators, payors and non-profits must comprehensively engage to address the manifold of fundamental obstacles.