The Astellas Way Blog

A Breakthrough Year for Team Astellas

by Jim Robinson, President, Astellas Americas

Dec 18, 2016

In its “Top Health Industry Issues” report at the beginning of 2016, PricewaterhouseCoopers noted, “This will be the year that, shift by shift, visit by visit, nurses, doctors and other clinicians learn to work in new ways, incorporating insights gleaned from data analysis into their treatment plans.”

Without question, 2016 has been an impactful year across our nation’s healthcare system, fueled in large part by increased integration of patient-focused data, new advances in research, and a recognition among public and private sector leaders that we’re living in an unprecedented era of medical invention. The overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of the 21st Century Cures Act by the U.S. Congress this month is a reminder of the momentum behind getting innovative treatments to patients in a more expeditious manner.

As I’ve traveled around North and South America and the globe, I’ve been constantly reminded of the extensive collaboration and idea sharing that is taking place across healthcare systems to encourage drug development and innovation.

You only need to pick up the newspaper to see how targeted immunotherapies are accelerating treatment of cancer. Today, we have a cure for Hepatitis C – seemingly a long shot a decade ago.  But that’s the reality of drug development. At Astellas, we’re making daily progress in areas like regenerative medicine and difficult-to-treat cancers that will lead to incremental innovation and new treatment pathways.

For Astellas, 2016 provided an opportunity to continue to enhance our focus on the patient and encourage others to join with us. Recently, I highlighted the importance of the “patients-first marketplace” and industry collaboration on a panel at the Forbes Healthcare Summit, which brought together more than 200 healthcare CEOs and other influential leaders in medicine and medical research, government and the media to discuss how to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges. As a company, we’re driven every day to help improve the patient experience. We’re looking internally and into the future to help discover innovative breakthroughs for patients.  We’re making a concerted effort to go beyond medicine to treat diseases holistically and identify new ways to collaborate with partners.

Our partnerships with world-class medical and academic institutions, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - just to name a few - share a core purpose to address unmet needs for patients around the globe. Equally important, through our strategic acquisitions and a commitment to open access, we’re going wherever the best science takes us.

In 2016, we reaffirmed our longstanding belief that conversations with stakeholders and patient advocates help advance tangible solutions. At our second annual patient advocacy summit, we listened to how we could more effectively meet patient needs through the drug discovery continuum – from development to approval to coverage of new treatments.

We convened the Astellas Patient Advocates Advisory Committee and created a new Patient Experience organization to ensure the patient voice is front and center across all of our therapeutic areas and business functions.

On the legislative front, the recent enactment of 21st Century Cures reflects how collaborative public policy can help encourage the development of new treatments and cures. Against the backdrop of an often-contentious environment on Capitol Hill, both parties stepped up to advance legislation that embraces public-private partnerships such as Cancer Moonshot, dedicates resources to help the FDA keep pace with our rapidly-advancing science, and prioritizes the patient experience in drug development and review.

I’ve been incredibly proud of our team and, in particular, the sense of shared purpose that everyone at Astellas continues to exemplify. It’s truly a special place to work, learn and innovate together. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday. I couldn’t be more excited about 2017 and continuing to build on our collective achievements to improve the lives of patients and reduce suffering across the globe.

It’s the Astellas Way.