Life Science Integrates’ flagship event sees leaders across the pharmaceutical sector call for global collaboration and novel approaches to world challenges
Life Science Integrates (LSI) is delighted with the success of its 10th Pharma Integrates conference, which took place on 16th November. With 17 panel discussions, a record number of speakers, and opening sessions from high-profile leaders, including Sir John Bell, Professor Trevor Jones and Ben Osborn, the event was a forum to share, discuss, debate, and challenge ways of working across the pharmaceutical industry.
A high-profile opening
Ben Osborn, MD of Pfizer UK and incoming President of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), delivered the opening remarks, emphasising the need to maintain the pharmaceutical progress made during the pandemic, the importance of governments working with healthcare to build resilience, and the need to invest in innovations and partnerships that reflect the UK’s position as a leader in the life sciences. He called for transformation to overcome challenges, stressing the challenge presented by antimicrobial resistance: “As science, data and technology come together like never before, I can’t think of a more important time for our industry.”
Attendees were treated to an exclusive interview with Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and Chairman of the Office for the Strategic Coordination of Health Research, conducted by Professor Trevor Jones, Chairman and Board Member of e-Therapeutics and Ascension Healthcare.
Both emphasised the need for global collaboration between scientists. Sir John Bell called for more transformational interdisciplinary science to facilitate innovations: “With the Rosalind Franklin Institute as a new feature in the ecosystem, this will enable both physical sciences and life sciences to work side by side, as all we do in life sciences is underpinned by the success in the physical sciences.”
Praising the MHRA for its agility throughout the pandemic, he emphasised the need for continuity. “A month of delay in approval can cost many hundreds of lives. We need to get things to patients faster.”
People, process and predictions
This year’s three themes - people, process and predictions - focused minds on three questions:
- How can we give people skills and support to provide the best possible patient outcomes?
- How can we accelerate development and delivery of medicines?
- How can we use the current focus on pharma to demystify future medicines and prevent future pandemics?
Leaders from academia and industry covered current and relevant topics in the field, from mental health to sustainability, advanced computing, and supply chains. Common themes included accelerating timelines, creating partnerships and collaborations, taking advantage of digital transformation, and adopting more sustainable models.
With healthcare accounting for 4.5% of carbon emissions, representatives from NHS England, ERM, Healthcare Without Harm, AstraZeneca and Novartis discussed practices they are adopting to achieve Net Zero. The panel called for a system transformation to a more holistic approach, including a shift to business models better able to adapt. “Current models in the western world are not the right answer,” commented Sonia Roschik from HealthCare Without Harm, who highlighted how her company had saved seven tonnes of plastic in just one year by rethinking when to use non-surgical gloves.
“We’re engaging with our supply chain to see how to achieve Net Zero. The challenge lies in how to make all the parts of the chain work together to achieve this goal,” added Sarah Ouanhnon, Senior Net Zero Delivery Lead at the NHS.
Jason Snape, Global Head of Environment at AstraZeneca, stressed that “the major challenges are clean heat and clean power”. AstraZeneca has invested over $100m to decrease its water footprint by 20%.
Montse Montaner, Chief Sustainability Officer of Novartis, stated that we must be led by benefit to the patient: “From the board to the company, everyone needs to understand their role in sustainability.”
The role of AI and high-performance computing
There has never been a higher demand from pharma companies for multi-dimensional data processing and interpretation. New data is coming in all the time, in addition to data already out there, but teams struggle to turn this information into actionable data.
Kevin Cox, Chair of Biorelate, stated: “We don’t have enough real-world information - we should aim to put people into real-world situations and use wearables to gather data that will give us useful insights.”
“We need to integrate all aspects - research innovation, advancing digital transformation, big data analytics, and quantum computing, so that we have all the data we need,” commented NVIDIA’s Craig Rhodes.
Active collaboration with excipient suppliers
“Excipients play an important role in helping drugs become available in more convenient forms, with improved durability, sustainability, and safety,” stressed Professor Jean-Jacques Zambrowski, from Bichat University Hospital and the University of Paris Saclay.
The panel highlighted the importance of patient adherence and the ability of excipients to make medicines easier to take, reducing the dosing burden and increasing reliability. They mentioned the importance of consistent standards: “In an increasingly global environment we need to make sure excipients have uniform quality standards and pass global acceptability criteria,” stressed Bruno Hancock, Global Head of Materials Science, Pfizer.
Patient centricity and digital connection
Experts from COUCH Health, Lindus Health, TranScrip, Zeesta, University of Aberdeen, and MRN highlighted the need to focus on patient-centricity, as well as responding to the growing numbers of digitally connected patients.
“We must put patients in control of their medicines and their medicines’ journey. Digital connectivity is about speed, agility, and connectivity. We should leverage the power of the QR code,” commented Jamie Unwin, Commercial Insights Officer of Nanoform, stressing the importance of considering patient centricity earlier in the product life cycle.
“The pandemic has shown us just how fast everything can happen when driving research by responding to patient needs,” stated Lucy Allen from Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Supply chains and collaboration to accelerate medicine delivery
The pandemic has highlighted two key challenges: supply shortages and global inequality in access to treatments. Increased engagement with the supply chain and more open collaboration, as well as including patient voices in partnerships can help improve this.
Experts highlighted the importance of the supply chain. “10 years from now, experts in supply chain management will play a much bigger role,” commented Dave Tudor, Managing Director of Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, CPI.
Experts from AstraZeneca, GSK, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Nanoform, BCG, and Ajinomoto Bio-Pharma Services Europe, acknowledged the need for pharma to maintain the forward-looking focus developed during the pandemic, and discussed the role of CDMOs as not simply a service provider, but part of the team.
“We must focus on creating open-source sharing platforms to share information, resources and developments. We are doing things for the greater good and not individual success,” commented Amit Shah, Investment Director at SR One.
Continuing the momentum
Professor Trevor Jones wrapped up the event by thanking sponsors, speakers, and attendees, encouraging everybody to carry forward the learnings from the pandemic into the post-covid world with a shift to a patient-centric approach. “Thank you for the work that you do for the health and wealth of our nations. One thing that is very clear is the value that partnerships have created and will continue to create,” he concluded.
Event content recordings are available online for you to re-visit at your convenience. LSI is excited to announce its first event on the crucial topic of sustainability in pharma which will take place online next year on the 24th February 2022. Following this, LSI’s annual Bio Integrates will take place in person on the 17th May 2022. The event will focus on the biotech, start-up, and emerging pharma sector. Visit the LSI website for information on all upcoming events.