Working to Make a Difference in the Lives of People

Makis Papataxiarchis, Managing Director of Janssen Greece, President οf PhRMA Innovation Forum, and Chairman of AmCham’s Pharmaceutical Committee, discusses the challenges of healthcare in Greece and the importance of innovation and cooperation in building a sustainable, patient-centric healthcare system.

Mr. Papataxiarchis, as Chairman of the Chamber’s Pharmaceutical Committee, how would you describe the current healthcare landscape?

In healthcare, there’s no time to waste. There are diseases to be treated, medicines to be developed, and lives to be enhanced and transformed. Today’s medical challenges are far more complex than ever before.

Medicines are an integral part of healthcare and contribute significantly to saving and extending patients’ lives. Innovation in medicine has made a major contribution to reducing mortality rates in many conditions. Pharmaceutical expenditure is a large contributor to the improvements in life expectancy and quality of life that have been observed in recent decades. Moreover, pharmaceutical innovation can reduce overall direct healthcare costs. The direct cost of an illness includes the purchase cost of medicines, but also costs such as hospitalization, outpatient follow-up, and home care.

Our goal as innovative pharma companies is to provide medicines to help people around the world live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. And our research promises to make an even bigger difference in the years to come. We are eager to work with stakeholders throughout the healthcare system to help ensure broader access to medicines. Our view is that all stakeholders involved in healthcare should strive for collaboration in research and education and all the way to patient access. Little can be done in isolation. The future of health will be defined by companies, academic institutions and governments who work together to leverage their strengths, thinking beyond current challenges and exploring new ways to innovate.

You are now Managing Director of Janssen Greece. Tell us about the company and how it is represented here in Greece.

At the heart of it, we are innovative, meaning we focus on transformative outcomes. We are collaborative, meaning we believe in connecting our expertise with others. And we are caring. We put people first. We do all of this in the spirit of improving the health of everyone in the world.

Our roots as a one of the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson define the rich heritage that continues to guide our work. In fact, our Credo, a guiding set of principles written by Robert Wood Johnson back in 1943, has only changed slightly since its inception. Our Credo guides us in everything we do. It outlines our responsibilities, starting with people—doctors, nurses, patients and their families—and our responsibility to serve them to the very best of our abilities. It highlights our responsibility to our employees and the importance of fair working conditions and compensation. Importantly, the Credo addresses our responsibility to the communities in which we live and work, recognizing the opportunity to make those communities better. And of course, we must consider our responsibility to our shareholders.

Janssen opened its first office in Greece back in 1973 and has been actively contributing to the local economy and society for more than 45 years. It is a member of the Johnson & Johnson family, the world’s largest and most broadly-based healthcare company. In Greece, Johnson & Johnson has 500 employees working in three different sectors: Consumer, Medical Devices, and Pharmaceuticals, while also operating a manufacturing site that produces consumer products that are exported to 33 countries. Janssen also has production and packaging activities in Greece through third parties, with approximately 60% of the output distributed in Greece.

We hold a strong market position in five important therapeutic areas, having a broad portfolio of medications across a wide spectrum of diseases, working to bring therapeutic solutions to patients and cost effective solutions to the healthcare system. At the same time, our portfolio is being enriched with new exciting acquisitions such as Actelion, which will further reinforce our companies’ leading position in the market. Although pricing, reimbursement and evaluation of innovation are becoming more complicated, we will continue to focus on the benefits that our portfolio has to offer, trusting that access will be given to Greek patients of the Greek population in need of treatment.

What about the Greek pharma industry? What are the key issues and challenges that the healthcare system faces currently?

Greece’s healthcare industry has evolved rapidly during the last decade. Almost all multinational companies have a long and strong presence in Greece and changes in recent years can optimistically be perceived as opportunities for growth and investment. Greek pharmaceutical companies are best in class, manufacturing a wide variety of medicines. On the other hand, Greece’s high level of medical services combined with its hospitality industry present a vast area of opportunities for wellness and health tourism.

With respect to challenges, we recognize that unobstructed access to healthcare products and services for all citizens is key. We acknowledge the affordability issues faced by healthcare systems and the pressure from rising healthcare demand. But when such concerns about the affordability of innovative medicines are expressed, it is imperative to realize that innovation only matters when access is available and that only optimized allocation of resources can ensure optimal patient-centric outcomes.

Despite rising healthcare budgets, increasingly less is spent on medicines. Pharmaceuticals are often inaccurately presumed to be the cause of rising healthcare budgets when in fact the proportion of healthcare budgets spent on medicines is decreasing. The pharmaceutical industry wants to be part of the solution in making healthcare more sustainable. Thus, communication among stakeholders is vital to ensure positions are part of the public dialogue.

We are eager to work with local healthcare stakeholders to find solutions to make medicines accessible and contribute to economic development and increased employment while securing future medical innovation and a stronger healthcare sector overall.

What do you think is the most important need for the Greek healthcare system?

What the Greek healthcare system needs is a strategy that balances cost management with healthcare quality. It is more imperative than ever that we can work together in that direction, because there is no company or health system that can solve the challenge of healthcare alone.

Greece should ensure that a modern, sustainable and dependable healthcare system is in place and serves all stakeholders: citizens, healthcare professionals, healthcare providers, and the healthcare industry. This could be achieved by hosting clinical studies, increasing pharmaceutical manufacturing, and engaging in world-class research and development. In addition to these, all stakeholders should develop and implement a healthcare strategy that is long-term, benefits Greek citizens, and is a key component to sustainable economic growth.

As leader of AmCham’s Pharmaceutical Committee, what are your aspirations?

The mission of AmCham’s Pharmaceutical Committee is to build bridges of cooperation and common understanding among all stakeholders, as well as to create beneficial synergies for the benefit of the patient. We look at improvements in the healthcare landscape taking into account the impact of our medicines on economic factors such as total cost of care, disability, and productivity and considering the long-term benefits to society. Moreover, we at Janssen have a motto: Don’t think about the product, think about the patient. And the way we are approaching innovation goes beyond products and services. We always have been and will continue to be resilient and innovative in our approach and actions. Maintaining this focus, we ensure that our work continues to make a difference in people’s lives.

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