The Astellas Way Blog

Reflecting on a Year Shaped by Changing Tomorrow

By Jim Robinson, President, Astellas Americas

Dec 18, 2017

It’s fair to say that we begin each new year with a sense of unbridled optimism, fueled by our commitment to improving the lives of patients worldwide. By any standard, 2017 has been a remarkable year for our company and our communities.

In a year of fractious debate over health care reform, we saw medical innovation embraced by public policy developments. Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), which not only provides the FDA with the resources it needs to review and approve new treatments, but also includes provisions that bring the patient closer to the drug development process.

We saw notable steps taken by regulators and Congress to preserve access to medicines for Medicare beneficiaries, while in the states, several legislatures – Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland – passed bills protecting access to treatments for late-stage cancer patients. We also witnessed an evolving focus on the value of medicines and the supply chain – a topic that is key to ensuring that patients’ best interests guide all health care decisions..

For Astellas, 2017 has been a year of making meaningful differences today and laying the groundwork for continued success. Some of the year’s highlights include:

  • Opening the Astellas Research Institute of America (ARIA), our new global hub for neuroscience research. At ARIA, scientists and researchers are making strides in developing new treatment options for central nervous system disorders so that, one day, we can ease the burdens of patients with conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.
  • The movement of promising new innovations through our pipeline. Most recently, the FDA granted Fast Track designation to gilteritinib, a potential treatment for patients with a form of acute myeloid leukemia. We’ve also made significant steps in the clinical programs for therapies targeted toward urothelial and non-metastatic prostate cancers.
  • A workforce determined to make a difference inside and beyond our walls. I am proud that we have again received recognition from multiple organizations and publications for our positive and inclusive work environment throughout the Americas. It speaks to the fact that our people and our principles make Astellas great. Hundreds of colleagues participated in Changing Tomorrow Day and even more gave their time and energy to improving our communities throughout the year.
  • Our commitment to all aspects of patient care. Our Patient Experience organization continues its journey to help establish Astellas as one of the most patient-centric companies in our industry – and we are making great strides. For example, the team has worked to enhance the health literacy of our patient-facing materials across functions, and is streamlining the process for patients and caregivers to get the answers they need when contacting us.

    For the second consecutive year, we also supported promising and innovative non-medicine ideas aimed at improving the cancer care experience. The 2017 winner of Astellas’ C3 Prize was Hernani Oliveira of Portugal, who developed an app designed to help pediatric cancer patients and their families. We debuted a similar program in Canada – called T3 – focused on enhancing the health and life of transplant patients.
  • Building the scientists of the future. This year we made great strides in helping pave the way for a new generation of scientists. For example, through the Astellas USA Foundation’s Rural Spark Project, we supported new STEM education programs in 26 rural schools in Illinois.

When I step back and reflect on what we have seen and done this year, I feel a great sense of hope and determination. Our company is dedicated to creating new medicines that help patients, but that is just the beginning. This past year we continued to find new ways to improve lives, bring hope to those with the greatest struggles and challenges, and take meaningful steps toward a better future.

Without question, next year will present new opportunities to build on our progress. I am looking forward to what’s to come in 2018, with the knowledge that constant innovation will yield the treatments and programs that make a healthier world possible.