Current pharma model “not sustainable” during COVID-19, says Daiichi’s UK lead


At eyeforpharma Daiichi Sankyo’s Manuel Reiberg spoke about why the industry should look to make drugs more affordable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and “leave the next generation a healthcare system that they have access to”.

“As we see increasing pressure on the healthcare system, I believe pharma has to start moving in a more sustainable direction – both when it comes to pricing but also investing in activities to support the healthcare system and reduce inefficiencies,” he said during a fireside chat at the event, which was due to be held in Barcelona but has been digitised due to the pandemic.

“We need to invest in more sustainable marketing activities rather than just throwing the money out of the window for promotion and advertising.”

Reiberg, who is the company’s UK director, said the world is facing three big challenges – the climate, food supply, and how we can ensure sustainable access to high quality care in an affordable way. 

“My hope is that technological enhancement will allow us to increase the efficiencies of research and development,” he said.

Inefficiencies in R&D are still a major cost driver for pharma, with most molecules never making it to market.

“If we create higher likelihoods of success we can probably reduce the prices for individual drugs. Perhaps we can do this by using computing power – as we enter the age of quantum computing – to run simulations.”

He added that he “genuinely hopes” the industry will be “wise enough” to pass the savings from those efficiencies onto healthcare systems and governments, rather than using them to sustain margins.

“We are currently facing a huge crisis,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, “and let’s face it, we're still suffering from 2008, so the current approach is not sustainable.

“We need to think about how we can leave the next generation a healthcare system that they have access to.

“Ultimately we are only patients and taxpayers ourselves. Our responsibility is to also serve society, beyond just creating shareholder value. Yes, it's important to ensure that we can deliver and create innovation, but we have a responsibility to create stakeholder value in a broader sense. 

“That requires some rethinking and finding the right balance between addressing population health needs and the needs of highly targeted brilliant therapies – but make that more affordable.”