Interview – Detlef Thielgen, UCB – Autumn PharmaAccess Leaders Forum 2014
Leading up to NextLevel Pharma’s 3rd Annual PharmAccess Leaders Forum, we are conducting email interviews with selected members of our prestigious speaker panel to learn more about their thoughts on this vital issue.
*Opinions below are those only of the individual and do not reflect upon corporate strategy or positioning.
Detlef Thielgen, CFO, UCB
NLP: What do you think makes the current financial environment in Europe so challenging for pharmaceutical & biotech companies?
Detlef Thielgen: This era brings together the need for superior and sustainable value to patients, the impact of an aging population and the financial and economical crisis in Europe, leaving the healthcare environment struggling for new business models that also give an adequate economical reward for doing good for patients.
NLP: Which trends have you seen on the ways in which the pharma & biotech sector approach financial matters over the past 5 years?
DT: In the last five years patent cliffs, lacking R&D productivity and pressure on access to patients and pricing have changed the financial reality for a lot of companies, who were reacting with restructuring, either increased focus or diversification, push into emerging markets or M&A, all to maintain a good financial outcome for the future.
NLP: How much do you think the financial roles in the pharma & biotech sector are increasing their influence over strategic & country-level decision-making?
DT: With the increased pressure on the business, Finance can be in the center of the action, however, only if it focuses on understanding the business, align with the needs of patients as well as its internal and external customers and driving value and process excellence through a solution oriented organizational structure.
NLP: What’s the best thing for you about working in financial roles in the pharma & biotech sector?
DT: We are in an industry with a great purpose "helping people" and the industry is at yet another inflection point to create substantial value in the future, so being passionate for performance in both areas I expect never to have a boring moment.
NLP: How can the CFO work with internal stakeholders (i.e. market access colleagues) to offer enhanced value to patients and external stakeholders?
DT: It is my belief that all stakeholders in the healthcare arena (payers, pharma industry, regulators, patient organizations) have to align with the aim to create value through addressing “real” patients’ needs and through that for the society. This value needs to be brought to the “right” patient population through differentiated medicines and other solutions. The way to achieve this might differ in developed or developing countries, but the prerequisites for success are the same.
We have to develop trust through transparency and win-win orientation. Market access is a critical interface to important stakeholders and together with them the CFO has needs to develop convincing value propositions, that can be transparently benchmarked against other treatment options and that explores new approaches, e.g. models that base on the “pay for performance” approach.
NLP: Why is this PharmAccess Leaders Forum event a good idea for people to attend in your eyes?
DT: With the industry being at an inflection point it is important not to miss the boot, be on top of the new trends, meet other smart people and reflect on their solutions to create even more value back at home.