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EF: What is your strategy for 2023?
IW: Novo Nordisk has had an exceptional year, with significant growth in almost all market segments. It is an opportune moment to be present as we engage in extensive discussions about patient and medical journeys, a vital aspect of our strategy.
Our objective to drive change towards a healthier society through innovative treatments for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, has been reinforced by the past year's events, making us even more determined. We are delighted to have reached over 4.3 million patients in Brazil in 2022 with Novo treatments and are committed to fulfilling our purpose. We have shifted our focus from a product-centric approach to a patient-centric approach. Our entire strategy centers on problem-solving and improving journeys for patients and medical professionals. Medical education is one of our company's key pillars. We continually seek innovative solutions through collaboration with stakeholders using data and technology to strengthen relationships and promote an even more patient-centered outcome.
We have two noteworthy outcomes that have emerged from our efforts. Firstly, we have developed a digital education platform called Novo Nordisk Academy. It offers the most updated and curated content for doctors and health professionals to enhance their knowledge and better treat their patients. This platform has been a critical achievement in our medical journey. Secondly, we have a patient support program in Brazil called Novo Dia, which provides discounts for treatments and offers support from nutritionists, personal trainers, and specialists. The program ensures that patients, especially those diagnosed with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity, are accompanied in their journey toward a healthier life. We ensure that quality of life is possible despite their medical condition.
We also kept our focus on creating awareness about chronic diseases a priority, with an emphasis on educating people about early diagnosis. We firmly believe that early diagnosis leads to better outcomes, and we continue to strengthen our awareness programs to encourage people to act toward a healthier future.
EF: How are you promoting Novo Nordisk and increasing your competitiveness in Brazil and the region?
IW: Novo Nordisk has been leveraging technology to accelerate its mission in Brazil since 1990. Rather than viewing technology as an end, the company regards it as a means to solving problems. The success of Novo Nordisk lies in our ability to capture our strengths, such as our reputation in scientific research, education, safety and quality treatments, and make them more accessible to a wider audience through a gentle digital transformation. The company's multi-channel approach, which balances face-to-face interaction with digital platforms, has allowed us to interact with a broader audience while maintaining a personal touch. At Novo Nordisk, technology should not be used for its own sake but to help answer important questions and achieve greater impact. This approach aims to recalibrate the current onslaught of doctors with technology and, instead, offer a balanced way forward.
The digital revolution has profoundly transformed the pharmaceutical industry's interaction with the medical community. Previously, doctors would only receive innovation information from Congress or publications. With the advent of social media and search engines, medical professionals can access and discuss the latest studies and developments instantly. This shift has revolutionized medical education and made the industry more collaborative. As a result, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers must work together to develop better treatment approaches that integrate medical expertise and industry insights. However, this presents a prioritization challenge, given the many options available. While face-to-face interactions remain crucial, companies must adapt to a multi-channel context to provide value to doctors, enabling them to offer optimal patient care. Consequently, the industry must find ways to integrate personalized care into digital interactions to improve outcomes for all.
EF: What skill set is required to create a viable and sustainable business in Brazil?
IW: As a curious and driven individual, I consistently ask myself what else can be done differently to add value for our customers. Coming from outside the industry, I have embarked on a two-year learning journey, taking medical classes with my team to understand certain diseases better. While our team has many great ideas, it is crucial to identify the best questions to drive the best solutions. It is important to be humble and recognize that we do not have all the answers. Collaboration with external stakeholders is key to building solutions tailored to specific communities, such as our program "Cities Changing Diabetes", just implemented in Campinas, the first city in Brazil to receive the initiative, which aims to reduce the prevalence of diabetes type 2 and the obesity in different cities globally. Our approach is not to offer a one-size-fits-all solution but rather to work with local stakeholders and experts to tackle the complexities of each situation. For example, at the launch of the program in Brazil, we had representatives from the health, education, and physical education sectors in attendance, recognizing that the solution requires input from various perspectives. Expanding our portfolio while addressing the same key issue of diabetes and obesity, we focus on the diagnostic aspect, recognizing its critical role in developing the disease.
Another aspect of a sustainable business is embracing different perspectives. We believe diversity and inclusion are key for a more creative, successful business that is also valuable to our society. In Brazil, we have prioritized female leadership equality as well as improving the presence of other misrepresented populations. We have implemented programs to ensure their inclusion in the company and reinforced the respect for diversity in our culture. Through our anonymous selection process, we strived to reduce bias in the hiring process. During interviews, an avatar changes in appearance and voice to prevent any focus on the candidate's physical attributes. This has resulted in a higher percentage of women and other minority populations being hired. We recognize the need to continue working on reducing bias in all aspects of our company. We have internal groups that build a community to ensure all employees feel included and part of the company. These groups help individuals navigate a reality that may differ from their past experiences and provide a platform for shared concerns. At Novo, we prioritize creating an environment where employees can be themselves and feel respected for their skills and expertise.
EF: Can you elaborate on Novo Nordisk's footprint in Brazil and what makes Brazil unique for the global enterprise?
IW: In Brazil, the number of people with obesity is expected to reach almost 41% of the adult population by 2035. Additionally, nearly 60% of the Brazilian population today is overweight, which increases the risk of developing obesity. The World Health Organization has declared obesity a pandemic, making it a priority for Novo and the medical community to address. However, tackling obesity is challenging, and doctors must understand and acknowledge the emotional burden that patients experience, as they require more than just standard medical treatment.
The prevalence of obesity in Brazil is alarming. Obesity is a complex disease, and awareness remains a key pillar in combating it, as it is often not recognized by patients or society until it is too late. To address this, Novo is raising awareness and promoting a more comprehensive solution that includes medical treatment, lifestyle changes, nutrition, and psychological support. It is important to recognize the emotional aspect of the disease and provide patients with the necessary social and professional support. We are promoting this perspective within the medical community as much as we are encouraging people to seek professional help and engage in dialogue about their burdens. We will only contribute to a healthier and more supportive society with this dual approach.
Access is another focus area for Novo Nordisk. In Brazil, we are very proud of our effort to incorporate innovative diabetes treatments into the public sector. This success is partly due to our state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Montes Claros, the largest insulin factory in Brazil and Latin America, which produces some of the best insulin treatments available. With Brazil's large population, knowing that such advanced technology is open to all is gratifying.
EF: What message would you impart to your team regarding the company's 100-year celebrations and significant achievements to ensure its purpose's longevity for another century?
IW: During our 100-year celebration, we showcased a film depicting the life of a patient with diabetes from the previous century. The movie conveyed a poignant message: in 1923, a diabetes diagnosis was a death sentence. Today, medical advancements have drastically improved the prognosis for patients with diabetes. We can revolutionize healthcare, potentially even curing once-debilitating diseases.
The same drive that made us achieve all that in 100 years is the force that will guide us to succeed in other arenas, such as Obesity and other chronic diseases. As a company, Novo Nordisk is committed to preserving ethical standards and environmental sustainability while enhancing patient care. We approach the future with excitement and confidence in our ability to positively impact lives through purposeful action, and each of our employees is fundamental to getting there.