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Pharm Exec talks to Hugo Fry, Sanofi’s General Manager for the UK and General Manager for Sanofi Pasteur UK and Ireland, about his vision for the company and the vaccine space in these markets.
During his 24 years in the industry, Sanofi’s Hugo Fry has gained breadth and depth in roles across the pharma spectrum. He began his career in sales and marketing in 1993, later moving to Paris for positions in general management, global commercial and strategy. He joined Aventis UK in 2003 as Head of Commercial Excellence, and from 2007 spent four years in Russia leading Sanofi’s Diabetes, Oncology, Cardiovascular, Internal Medicine and Consumer Healthcare businesses. He was later appointed General Manager of Zentiva, Russia, and then became Chief Marketing Officer for Sanofi Pasteur MSD (SPMSD). Recently appointed Sanofi’s General Manager for the UK and General Manager for Sanofi Pasteur UK and Ireland, Hugo talks to Pharm Exec about his vision for the company and the vaccine space in these markets and discusses the looming challenges of Brexit.
PharmExec: What changes have you seen in the vaccines space over the last few years?
Hugo Fry: I have welcomed the fact that it has become a high-value-to-public-health space. It is very public-health focused, meaning that every player in the vaccines chain has a mutual interest in working with each other. In the UK, specifically, whether it is Sanofi or GSK or Merck, we all work very closely with Public Health England, because their interest is our interest. The dialogue has become much more open. This is partly because things have become much more complicated; there are a lot of combination vaccines, for example, that are very complex to produce. And when anything is complex to produce, you can sometimes end up with shortages. That is when you really have to act in the interest of public health, working with the authorities, understanding when doses will be coming, and ensuring that public health continues, both in the “good times” and in the times when supply is difficult.
What is your vision for the UK and Ireland in the short to medium term?
We all know that, with demographic change, healthcare is becoming more complicated, especially for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. Sanofi has deliberately established a diversified strategy, which comprises five global business units to accompany people on their full healthcare journey. This allows us, even in complex, resource-constrained times to support authorities in reaching their healthcare goals, whether that is vaccinating babies from birth, tackling near-pandemic diseases such as diabetes, or supplying medicines for very rare diseases. In addition, we have a consumer healthcare group to support patients with self-care to take some burden off the healthcare system.
What we are developing is not just the treatments but the solutions that accompany them. In multiple sclerosis, for example, we supply the treatment to the NHS but we also supply services such as home delivery and home care to ensure that the patient is really taken care of. For Ireland, what I am trying to concentrate on is making sure we don’t re-invent the wheel there. We want to make sure that the things that benefit patients in the UK will also benefit patients in Ireland. In diabetes, for example, we supply support to nurses for patients in the UK. If that works, we will transfer that initiative to Ireland.
I would like Sanofi to get to a place where it is genuinely recognised throughout the UK and Ireland for delivering great prevention and great treatment, but doing it affordably and with the highest quality of service. I want Sanofi to be recognised here for adding value on top of innovation.
Having taken on your new role in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, what are your concerns for the UK?
The priority as Sanofi sees it is to get some clarity on regulation, with regards to the work the European Medicines Agency (EMA) does, and particularly the work the UK’s Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) does within EMA. Currently, MHRA does up to 30 per cent of the work of EMA. While we won’t lose that overnight, it could potentially leave a big hole, not just for the UK but for the rest of Europe, and ultimately it is a concern that patients in Europe and in the UK will end up getting treatments later than they would have normally. There is the risk too that the UK could go to the back of the queue for registrations if, for example, the FDA and EMA take precedence.
What are the current leadership challenges facing a pharma general manager?
There are a number of shifts going on in the industry. The environment is now a lot more complicated than when I started. Most of the jobs that exist now in pharma did not exist 20 years ago. There is a lot of diversity. The general manager used to be the person who had seen it all and done it all and could deliver the requisite words of wisdom. That is no longer the case. Genuine leadership today involves guiding teams in tackling complex subjects like market access, product delivery, patient access, and medical education. It takes a different type of leadership to manage all those complex, cross-functional teams. It takes a lot more listening and a lot more flexibility. You don’t just get people into a room and tell them what to do. It’s a case of leading by example. Not leading so much with knowledge but behaviour, behaviour that shows integrity, courage, respect, and that shows others it is OK to take risks.