Words by Helena Beer
Mention opioids in pharma circles and a silence will likely descend, for obvious but, I would argue, needless reasons. In our last issue, and on The GOLD Podcast, we spoke about the portrayal of pharma’s reputation in pop culture, referencing films and tv programmes such as Dopesick, and how the industry can work to counter these negative representations and bolster its reputation.
And that got me thinking: while there’s nothing that can be done to alter the past, there are definite opportunities for pharma to mitigate the effects of opioid abuse on communities around the world and change the narrative about its role in the crisis more widely. The key is to look ahead at positive opportunities to make a difference.
In this issue, we therefore focus on the ways in which pharma can improve access to life-saving treatments for people suffering from opioid addiction, as well as influence regulatory reform, prescribing practices and opioid stewardship. If these are widely embraced, there’s huge potential for a more positive future.
Embracing positive change is also a key theme in our cover feature, which focuses on digital innovation and the need for pharma to keep up with tech giants to meet growing patient needs and expectations. As José Maria Guido Avila, Customer Engagement Transformation Lead, Sanofi Genzyme, comments in the feature, “the last best experience you had becomes your expectation for your next experience”, irrespective of whether it was Netflix intuitively recommending a programme to watch or a pharma company supporting the management of a long-term condition. The sector has come a long way in digital transformation since the pre-pandemic days, but there is still so much to achieve, and looking to the Amazons, Googles, Apples and even Tinders of this world may offer some simple solutions and insights to help along the way.
And on that note, I’m also delighted to share the first in a series of regular columns written by Davidek Herron, Global Head of Digital, Roche. A previous Catalyst interviewee and a firm favourite speaker on the pharma conference circuit, Davidek will share his opinions and personal experiences on a range of topics. First up, he focuses on his career raison d’etre: not basketball (if you know, you know), but digital transformation. He discusses the importance of pharma keeping pace with digital innovation and striving to achieve operational excellence. It’s a fascinating read with lots of brilliant examples to spark inspiration, so click the link above to get started and make sure to look out for his columns in future issues, too.
This Editor's Letter features in GOLD 24 – read the full issue here.