Roche eyes clinical trials in PH

Published July 4, 2022, 5:15 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Roche Pharmaceuticals Inc., one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical giants, has announced strong interest to conduct “clinical trials” in the Philippines as another form of partnership to provide more access to its groundbreaking innovative health care aside from contributing to the growth of the domestic economy.

Roche Global CEO William N. “Bill” Anderson announced this plan during a media briefing at the Manila Hotel. Anderson is on a two-day visit to the Philippines where he also attended the Healthcare Innovation Access Forum: Bringing Groundbreaking Advances Within Reach, initiated by Roche (Philippines) Inc., which was participated in by some Philippine Legislators, different Healthcare Ecosystem Partners and stakeholders. The Roche Global CEO aims to better understand the health and related-industry situation in the Philippines as well as to have an exchange of ideas and sharing of current projects of the company with country leaders and healthcare ecosystem stakeholders.

“This (clinical trial) is another area we’re really interested in,” said Anderson adding that the Swiss firm has been supporting good clinical practice (GCP) training, one of the requirements to be a clinical trial location. He added that Philippines can also save costs in doing clinical trials.

According to Anderson, Roche has been supporting GCP training and accreditation for institutions in the Philippines.

Aside from the scientific importance of clinical trials, Anderson said clinical trials are but also a way of access for innovation. Roche is now one of the world’s largest biotech companies with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism, and neurology, and a leader in in-vitro diagnostics, and a pioneer in diabetes management.

He lamented the fact that the Philippines has more than 110 million population, making one of the biggest countries on earth, and yet its “clinical trials participation is a small fraction of that.”

Comparatively, he said, other economies including lower income countries have figured out how to become more of a clinical trial center. “And this is a win win for both the patients in the country as well as for the economy in the country,” he pointed out.

At present, Roche Philippines has existing partnerships with the Philippines including the Mission Leapfrog, Project Extension for Community Health Outcomes (ECHO), Roche Access Program (RAP), Project BrIDGE or Breast cancer Integrated Disease solutions in a Guideline-driven Ecosystem, Integrated CAre Network for Lung Cancer (I CAN For Lung Cancer). These projects proved to be impactful where partners and stakeholders are working together to achieve the shared vision for each person to have access to innovative diagnosis and treatment whether they are city executives or farmers in provinces.

Roche has been able to pursue these initiatives being the largest investor in life science research and development in the world.

This year, the Roche Global CEO said they are investing over $15 billion in research and development for new medicines, and new diagnostics.

In fact, Roche has taken steps over the last few years to significantly reduce all its other expenses other than R&D and to take the savings and put them into R&D.

At present, the ratio is already close to 50-50 on R&D versus everything else. And it is moving towards 60-40 and beyond.

Ultimately, he said, Roche’s R&D will end up at two thirds of its expenses as its commitment because the pandemic has showed the desperate need for great new innovation from life science companies.

But he also equally emphasized that investments to advance medical research would not be enough if their products are beyond reach.

With that the company seeks to make their medicines at a lower cost to society, “because it’s not good enough to have advances if the patients don’t actually get them.”

Anderson further explained that Roche is committed to pricing responsibly. This means the Swiss-based pharma giant commits to prices that all stakeholders feel are reasonable.

This means, he said, finding ways to have prices in every country that are affordable for that country.

”And that’s something that we’re very committed to and we’re committed to find ways to reduce the cost of illness overall,” he said.

 
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