GHIC 2020: Global Health & Innovation Conference
April 4-5, 2020
Yale University, New Haven, CT

Unite For Sight's 2011 Global Health & Innovation Conference

Blog Report by Dennis Wang

"Pharmaceuticals For Humanity," Victoria Hale, PhD, Founder & CEO of Medicines360; Founder & Chair Emeritus of the Institute for OneWorld Health

Traditional Pharma

Victoria Hale, social entrepreneur and the founder of both The Institute for OneWorld Health and Medicines360, was the keynote speaker at this year’s Global Health and Innovation Conference.  Dr. Hale spoke extensively about the problems that currently exist in the pharmaceutical industry, and about what she called the “paradox” of drug development.  Later she shifted to talking about what a new, more socially responsible pharmaceutical company might look like.

Some of the evidence she cited for the failure of old-fashioned pharmaceutical companies included the amount of money spent getting the average drug to market ($1.24 billion) and the amount of time the process takes (7.5 years).  In the end, the number of drug approvals has actually decreased over the last decade, and big pharma has lost sight of what it means to provide a “service to humanity.”  Despite acts of corporate social responsibility, business practices are no longer fair, and do not cater to the actual needs of individuals who require their products.

Revolutionizing Pharma

In her own words, Victoria Hale’s vision is to “revolutionize the pharmaceutical sector – to rebuild it to serve humanity.”  She believes that our society is structurally supportive of products that prioritize humanity rather than profit, and that despite the monopolization of the pharmaceutical industry by a few major players, start-ups by social entrepreneurs can still find a niche, and she provides several examples of this.  The generics industry, for example, cuts costs while providing the same products to consumers, and many partnerships centered about neglected tropical diseases are still able to find their own places in the arena of global health, even when they are less profitable to research due to a smaller customer base, and bring drugs to market.

Victoria Hale has been through the “1st generation” of responsible pharma, which was reliant upon philanthropy to drive non-profit development of drugs for pharmaceutical partners to deliver to the public sector, and is now moving on to the “2nd generation,” of which Medicines360 is a prime example.  This business model will rely upon the commercial sector in addition to the public sector to generate sales income, which will then go back toward non-profit development, fulfilling both a social mission and creating financial sustainability by adopting policies based upon “price based on ability to pay” and “fair/reasonable profits.”

Take Away Points