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EF: Considering Brazil’s recent government changes and implementation of new healthcare programs; what are the main objectives and plans for Gilead Sciences' operations in Brazil for 2023 and the following years?
CS: For Gilead it has been a positive year, marked by the changeover. Product needs are reshaping the public market, where discussions on payers, verticalization, and consolidations are now gaining momentum.
Change has always been part of the journey, accompanied by both expectations and uncertainties. Brazil presents a competitive landscape with a mix of influential national and multinational stakeholders, where established players are growing and many newcomers emerging. It is a challenging environment and attempting to predict the future is risky - with a government still settling in and unfolding its plans but with a clear healthcare objective, what matters most is how we adapt.
Compared to other global affiliates of Gilead, who offer a full portfolio from virology, HIV, and liver disease to oncology, in Brazil, we are still launching products into the market. Our top priority is preserving our heritage with a strong emphasis on virology and are putting a focus on supporting the public healthcare policies through this portfolio. We launched the most innovative curative drugs to treat the Hepatitis C Virus and we are also in discussions to introduce our HIV portfolio, as the upcoming wave of HIV technologies is groundbreaking. Long-acting pharmaceuticals are revolutionizing treatment and prevention. They hold the potential to make a significant impact on public health by combating the HIV epidemic.
Additionally, we are entering the therapeutic area of oncology with a unique medication for triple-negative breast cancer, which is notoriously difficult to treat. We registered amazing results, improving the overall survival rate and offering hope to patients.
Regarding our operation in this country, we are not yet as large as other multinationals, but off to a successful start in oncology.
We are proud of our local team’s fantastic work and the transformational potential our medicines have in benefiting Brazilian patients.
EF: In a country as vast and diverse as Brazil, how is Gilead establishing a network to enhance awareness and access to products?
CS: One thing is certain: we cannot succeed on our own. Considering the number of stakeholders involved in HIV, coordinated efforts and public-private partnerships should be evaluated.
In terms of HIV, historically Brazil has one of the largest, if not the largest, public programs with universal access in the world. Therefore, a partnership with the government is crucial if we want to generate a significant impact. Meanwhile, we also collaborate with local partners and NGOs, supporting initiatives to improve the population’s well-being through awareness and prevention.
In Brazil, access is more than just a matter of scale. Treating a patient in remote rural areas is not the same as in the more urban areas. To effectively market a product, we must understand the complexity of this country. Diseases are widespread and we must be curious and keep learning while striving for success.
EF: How is Gilead using its position in Brazil to accelerate innovation in the regional market through R&D?
CS: One of my goals is to increase the number of clinical trials in the country. Gilead is now conducting clinical oncology research and looking to expand trials for our recently developed portfolio in virology, particularly in HIV prevention.
Through our trials, we can help more Brazilian patients while bringing innovation and new technologies to the country. We are allowing physicians to test our solution beforehand, showing that Brazil has all the necessary resources and capabilities available. We count on excellent research facilities and respected key opinion leaders, all of whom are homegrown in Brazil.
EF: How is Gilead leveraging digital transformation to broaden the company’s reach and improve other aspects of operations?
CS: In the current landscape, it is crucial for everyone to recognize the strategic significance of digital transformation. Using technology to enhance information sharing, frequency, and communication is commendable. However, in the end, Face-to-face interaction will maintain its value as we should not hand over full responsibility to digital. The prospect of tools like ChatGPT and their impact in the workplace generates a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty. Ultimately, humans remain integral to the equation and the question is how to harness the power of new tools to improve human experience and productivity.
As for concrete application of data technology: In Brazil, we have used predictive models and other tools for some of our initiatives. We are exploring digital channels to feed the healthcare community with useful information and insights to benefit patient care. Also, thanks to new technologies, we can merge enormous databases from various sources and obtain extremely distinct information to better shape the business and how we serve our stakeholders. We have been using this approach for the past four years, and it has enabled us to expand our limits and think creatively. This shows that technology is necessary, and we need to embrace it to not fall behind.
EF: Businesses are fighting for the best personnel- How does a company like Gilead attract and retain its talent?
CS: First and foremost, I believe a company should always challenge its employees. Therefore, an organization developing and implementing cutting-edge innovation, with a clear purpose to transform the lives of people, like Gilead does, always attracts prospective talent.
Additionally, creating a workplace culture that values integrity and fosters diverse perspectives is crucial in today's world.
We need to combine people of all ages and backgrounds with the positive objective of creating a demanding environment.
Despite the advantages of remote work, even tech businesses are starting to realize that physical presence matters. The human factor is always essential when it comes to building an attractive and productive work culture.
EF: What three pillars to establish a sustainable healthcare business in Brazil?
CS: Collaboration, in a wide sense, is one crucial aspect. In today’s fragmented landscape, everybody has their own interests and opinions. We have to be open to alternatives and find a common ground to thrive as a healthcare ecosystem for the benefit of patients.
Secondly, we need to increase the efficiency of our health system. We, pharmaceutical companies are part of the framework, but our products represent only a small part of our nation's healthcare costs. We have to collaborate with other stakeholders and the community to find more efficient ways in the long term and avoid waste of resources in the system.
Lastly, innovation is a key pillar for continuity. It will require an environment that allows, accepts and discusses innovation. We need an eye on the present dealing with the daily conditions and another eye continuously looking into the future for solutions for patients and families.
EF: As the year ends, what are your biggest achievements to celebrate?
CS: When it comes to celebrating this year’s achievements. I would count the patients we have treated so far this year. People's lives and those of their families are transformed by our work. That is what matters most to us and gives meaning to what we do.
Since our Oncology launch in February, we have witnessed remarkable improvement in women affected by triple-negative breast cancer. Given the severity of this cancer, survival is a significant marker of our success in introducing the medication. We are looking forward to impacting many more lives in the future.