What Can We Learn From Related Industries?
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In some ways, the pharmaceutical industry is unique from other industries, its upfront R&D costs, for instance are extremely high. But these panelists see some commonalities with other business sectors, and offer observations and counsel to drug manufacturers. Andrew Parece focuses on the trade of high tech goods, such as software, digital cameras and DVDs. There are difficulties controlling the free flow of these goods, and their prices, across borders—a challenge the drug industry also confronts today. Parece suggests that pharma companies “leverage their competitive advantage…to differentiate products, and turn offerings into products and services such as patient assistance and education, and disease management.” Tamsin Randlett of Gap, Inc. deals more with issues on the manufacturing end. The Gap outsources clothing production to companies in parts of the world where wage and labor standards lag. To respond to concerns about equity and human rights, Randlett partners with international labor organizations and NGOs. She suggests pharmaceutical industries similarly “leverage world health organizations…to bring greater credibility to your efforts” and sit down with politicians, even those opposed to industry positions. Stephen Sammut’s venture capital group invests in the biosecurity business. Just as in drug manufacturing, biosecurity involves risky and expensive R&D, licensing and liability questions, and unpredictable market size. Since “northern hemisphere concerns about biosecurity are the daily disease burden of many countries in the southern hemisphere,” says Sammut, one answer to the pricing problem may be creating drugs useful for both markets simultaneously.
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