This month, the eyeforpharma conference in Barcelona puts the spotlight on pharma companies that are breaking new ground in healthcare. One of these companies is LEO Pharma. MISC talked to Kristian Hart-Hansen, CEO of LEO Innovation Lab, to find out just how they are putting patients at the center of their solutions.
Leaders from across the pharmaceutical industry are meeting this month at the eyeforpharma Barcelona conference to explore new ways to become more trusted partners in the “era of customer and patient empowerment.”
One of the keynote speakers is LEO Pharma’s CEO, Gitte Aabo, who will discuss “What Is Next for Pharma?” As part of its 2020 strategy, LEO Pharma has established LEO Innovation Lab, a separate unit that focuses on making a difference to the lives of those living with skin diseases by looking beyond pharmaceutical products and focusing on digital solutions.
MISC met up with Kristian Hart-Hansen, CEO of LEO Innovation Lab, to see how they are expanding their mandate in an effort to become a trusted partner in the fight against skin disease.
Below is an excerpt from our conversion with Mr. Hart-Hansen.
MISC: What brought about the creation of LEO Innovation Lab?
KHH: There were 2 components:
/ We started with the basics, by looking at the end consumer. At LEO Pharma, we have been trying to do that many times and in many different ways with our variety of patient support programs. It became clear that if you want to do things correctly, you need to do something different – you need to look at the different options that exist outside of the corporate organization, especially corporate pharma.
/ When working in pharma, you need to be very aware of the market around you. We don’t think about if our industry is going to be disrupted, but when it will get disrupted. Having said that, you still hear a lot of people saying that this will never happen because the barrier to entry is so high and you have to conduct a lot of clinical trials before a product can be sent to market.
In reality, disruption comes from the interaction with end users. The power of the doctor is becoming increasingly limited, they don’t have as much freedom anymore and patients are far more demanding, informed, and decisive about treatment options. So it became clear to us that adding value to our products means adding value for the end consumers.
If we are not careful in the pharma industry, somebody else will come in and take ownership over the relationship with consumers and pharma will stand back and become solely a provider. Providing is just a matter of price, it doesn’t give you a real chance to offer value.
This is why LEO Innovation Lab was created – to innovate beyond the existing business of LEO Pharma and thus provide people living with skin diseases with digital solutions that go beyond pharmaceutical products and address all the areas of their lives that may impact their disease and their wellbeing, such as diet, fitness, mental wellbeing, family and children, and their relationship with the HCP.
MISC: Do you feel pharma currently has a relationship based on value with end users, or is it something that you are trying to innovate around?
KHH: Pharma is probably one of the most conservative industries. We live of innovation but have a tendency to have the same “go-to-market” strategy as we have had for many years. In general, pharma has never been strong in engaging the end user and has never really seized the opportunities the world is bringing. That has to do with the very strict regulations we are working under in terms of compliance, communication, and regulation, and it is probably a fear of doing something wrong that is keeping the industry back instead of looking at the bigger picture and explore how we can use technology and the digital world to optimize the treatment to the benefit of the patients. So if we want to win and create a better life for people living with a skin disease, we need to understand and engage the end users much more than what we do today.
MISC: LEO Pharma’s push to expand the parameters of value is quite bold, what has allowed the organization to move in this direction?
KHH: 99% of the credit goes to LEO Pharma’s CEO, Gitte Aabo – she has a very strong view that we need to listen to the people living with a skin disease to truly understand them and be able to develop solutions that improve their lives. To do this, we need to change how we work and do things in a radically different way. It was a very brave decision to go to the Board of Directors and ask for a significant amount of money, 60 million EURO over the next three years, to invest in LEO Innovation Lab.
How are we going to do it? We don’t know.
Are we going to be successful? We don’t know.
What are we going to do? We don’t know.
LEO Pharma is a truly patient-centric organization and when LEO Pharma talks about patient centricity, it is not just something the company says, it is what we are – it is our DNA. LEO Pharma is 100% owned by the LEO Foundation, which means that we have no shareholders but reinvest profits in the company with a mission to help people achieve healthy skin.
By establishing LEO Innovation Lab, LEO Pharma has taken a new step on our journey to become a patient-centric company that delivers services beyond products to make a difference for people living with a skin disease
MISC: Does LEO Pharma’s patient-centric commitment change the way the company assesses business value?
KHH: LEO Pharma believes that if you help people, business will follow. We don’t help patients to make money; we make money to help patients. Therefore, LEO Pharma is obliged to run a very optimized and profitable business in order to be able to invest in initiatives that truly benefit patients like our products, services, and now also LEO Innovation Lab – it’s just what LEO Pharma is all about.
In the world today with social media setting the agenda and the pressure from the payers, a company needs to deliver much more than just physical products – we need to show that we bring value to the patients beyond manufacturing and selling efficacious and safe products – we need to prove that we make a real difference in their lives.
eyeforphama runs from March 15th to 18th in Barcelona. MISC will be in attendance reporting on how other organizations aim to disrupt the status quo to redefine value for those living with diseases and the individuals who support them.