Read the Conversation

EF: What are some of the lessons you have learned during the pandemic?

JF: Working in the CNS field, I learned about the importance of mental health disease treatment as the numbers are increasing, especially for untreated individuals. I also learned that people should re-evaluate their lives and give more attention to their family members. This personal reflection is crucial as we lost quite a number of people during this period. 

EF: 2020 was a year of diagnostics and prevention, 2021 was a year of vaccines. What do you think 2022 will be remembered for?

JF: My hope is that we see 2022 as the first year without COVID and the positive impacts of not having this virus back in our lives. A year where people will not be afraid to go out, walk around without wearing masks, and not be afraid to touch each other.

EF: If you had to choose two courses that would become compulsory for any manager to be able to go through a crisis like COVID, which would they be?

JF: The first lesson I learned is that it's very important to have a flexible workplace policy and a better understanding of the balance between an employee's personal and professional life. Of course, companies need numbers and results, but adopting a flexible way of management can change the perception of our employees as a well-balanced company and leadership, and this can increase productivity and motivation as well. 

The second one would be exploring technology for better communication and reaching customers. Digital transformation is accelerating and, in the next 5 or 10 years, it will be much farther along.

EF: What is the importance of mental health and CNS to Lundbeck in these markets in terms of policy or awareness of the disease? 

JF: Lundbeck plays a very important role in Brazil and is perceived in our market as the top-of-mind company from a psychiatrist’s perception. The number of patients with depression is increasing, and we've been working with the Psychiatry Association to support them and to have more space in the government to talk about mental health issues and include treatment for the affected patients. We have also sponsored the Mental Health Day and Suicide Prevention Month remembrance.

EF: How do you compare Brazil, Argentina, and Chile in terms of access? 

JF: I think Argentina has the best plan for CNS drugs despite the economic situation that it's currently facing, as its system has a good concept compared to Brazil, which hasn't covered certain diseases yet.

EF: Is there any product in your pipeline that you're going to be bringing to the market that you're most excited about?

JF: We have a migraine product in our pipeline this year that has already launched in the United States, and it is one of our first biological products. 100% of our products are in the retail market, and now we are going to have a more specific product that has 10-year protection.

EF: What does access mean to you?

JF: Access means how patients get their treatment. Even though our Brazilian constitution clearly states that all citizens must have their healthcare provided by the government, if they need real treatment and don't have any private health insurance, they'll have a problem.

EF: How do you think digitalization transformation will impact and reinvent Lundbeck's business?

JF: I think that the role of the pharmaceutical sales rep is an area that will be most affected by digital transformation, but I don't see a total replacement for this position. However, these professionals need to develop new skills to use digitalization in their favor.

For example, since the pandemic, we now have the opportunity to reach states in Brazil that we didn’t have before because of the technical assistance. We are now also able to meet more customers and have more meetings with worldwide participants, as well as physicians that only treat through telemedicine.  

EF: Fast forward a couple of years, 5 to 10, what would you like this moment in your career to be remembered for?

JF: I'm going to be proud of the way my management team and I handled the business, not only in Brazil but also in my total area. We have received lots of good feedback from our employees, and the humanization that they perceive in the way that we try to protect them or make them feel safe while still getting good results. For example, during the last two years, I had the best employee succession survey in the period. 

EF: Is there any final message you'd like to add on Lundbeck's role or commitment to Brazil? 

JF: Just to reinforce some of the thoughts that I have already mentioned, one of the main values of Lundbeck is to be driven by its patients, so our main focus is to improve access to treatments for mental healthcare patients. Our role, besides our numbers, is to contribute to the mental health system and have a voice in the government to pay more attention to these kinds of patients.

After being the only CNS-focused company in Brazil for 20 years, we are also improving in this area and are perceived that way by many physicians. So, we have an important role to contribute to the populations that are suffering from mental health issues.

EF: Do you think after the pandemic, people will be more aware of the role of mental health in productivity? 

JF: It's a working process. Even for us, before the pandemic, we were not taking care of that, and we weren't recognizing that employees could have this type of disease. However, it is a real disease, and I think we should treat it like we treat migraines or other impairments that sometimes affect daily base work. I do think we are going to see more movement and more companies appearing and implementing services to improve the treatment and lives of mental health patients.

April 2022