Q&A: Geno Germano - Pharmaceutical Executive


Q&A: Geno Germano
Geno Germano, president of Pfizer's Specialty Care Business Unit, talks about how to win support in a sector that prizes connection with patients

Pharmaceutical Executive

PE: How does Pfizer's Business Unit structure create the high level of product differentiation that customers expect?

GG: It's built into the model from the start. My team is responsible for the entire life cycle of our products, from proof of concept right to the end of the patent term. Our BU's asset teams frame and conduct Phase II and III clinical trials to establish the clinical basis for our products while also devising plans to build a market for the medicine and ensure access for patients at appropriate prices. It's an outward, "customer facing" structure, designed to integrate customer insights and health technology considerations into the development process.

In the past, the key barriers to creating a strong market rationale for a medicine in development were more internal. Clinical development, which was separate from the business, tended to focus more on regulatory requirements for approval with less focus on the perspectives of the prescriber, the patient or the payer. I've had to confront that perception.

Market forces dictate that it is no longer sufficient to set the prospect of FDA approval as the only marker of success in investing in a new drug; instead, the metric is how that drug is likely to appeal to customers in a competitive healthcare marketplace. Critical exclusivity time is lost if you cannot show value to the customer right from the start. It means you have to demonstrate to multiple stakeholders an improvement over the current standard of care and how the medicine is going to be used in clinical practice.

One of my goals, which I'm excited about, is to create more clarity and transparency around this value metric. Whatever we do, it will be for a deliberate purpose: to prioritize value as seen through the perspective of the customer. We can only build the business if we meet customer expectations in serving the patient. If we are not clear on that, then we all lose.

PE: What is the Specialty Care BU doing to improve the quality and scope of evidence that customers can apply in evaluating the benefits of a Pfizer medicine?

GG: Good information is essential to driving sales of specialty products. To generate meaningful data, we have formed market access teams responsible for creating a specific "payer value proposition" for each of our products. The market access lead serves as one of my nine direct reports; placing the function at this level is rare in the industry. It also shows our BU's commitment to creating a comprehensive picture involving economics, stakeholder analytics, patient needs, and outcomes—in addition to the science—when we make our case to the customer.

We follow a threefold approach to developing and supporting the value proposition for our medicines. The first is proactive engagement, where for medicines in development we deliberately seek out a dialogue with payers at a very early stage. This involves frank discussions on what kind of therapeutic advances customers are willing to pay for, not only today but further down the road. It is also important to cast the net beyond payers to identify key "influencers" who understand the motivations of decision-makers and can act as third party advocates.


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