Jordi Fernández
General Manager Mexico
Roche Diagnostics
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View from the Top

Comprehensive Diagnosis Solutions for Today and Tomorrow

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 12/21/2020 - 08:00

Q: How does Roche Diagnostics address the needs of patients?

A: A fundamental pillar of how Roche Diagnostics meets the needs of the sector with its diverse solutions is through the positive impact that it can deliver to patients, with methods supported by innovation and development. The company has a clear commitment to invest in R&D. Last year, Roche Diagnostics spent some CHF 11.6 billion (approximately US$13.503 billion) on R&D at the global level. This is one of the reasons we are a global leader in the healthcare industry.

We focus on patient’s needs, as our purpose states: Doing Now What Patients Needs Next. Focusing on future needs means we work on developing integrated diagnostic solutions that can reach a high number of patients. This includes molecular, sequencing, immunology and biochemistry solutions for the diagnosis of many different diseases. These solutions are developed with the concept of personalized healthcare, which allows us to give the best solution for each patient for a greater impact on their quality of life. With that, we help to create a more efficient health system.

Q: How has Roche Diagnostics demonstrated its quality during the pandemic?

A: One of the key demonstrations during the pandemic has been the effort and speed at which we have delivered high-quality diagnostic solutions. Quality is extremely important because not all diagnostic solutions available today have the sensitivity and specificity that is required for COVID-19 patients. We have almost 10 COVID-19 tests in global markets, though these are not yet available in the Mexican market because they must first go through the country’s regulatory process.

But it is important to remember that health is more than just COVID-19. We put high-value medical solutions in the market that target different therapeutic areas, which have also played an important role during the pandemic. For example, for pregnant women, we have a preeclampsia test that helps to reduce pregnancy risks, which are very high in Mexico. We also have tests in important areas like cardiovascular diseases or cancer.

Q: How does Roche Diagnostics identify solutions suited for the future?

A: The company is very decentralized. It is also very close to the market, the main stakeholders and patients. We also have almost 125 years of experience improving people’s lives. All of this puts us in a favorable position to meet future needs and deliver personalized healthcare. The most important stage of the process is direct testing with patients. This enables us to develop preventive solutions that can help with early diagnosis of any disease so patients find appropriate treatments sooner.

Q: How do the company’s software support solutions complement its clinical diagnostics solutions?

A: Digital solutions have grown rapidly over the past few years, diversifying the ways in which we can provide value to patients who we value the most. The value of digital solutions can be viewed from connectivity between our solutions and its integration to the electronic healthcare records (EHR). We have solutions to help healthcare professionals treat patients more effectively across several therapeutic areas such as diabetes, oncology, infectious diseases, among others.

The pandemic has shown us that if healthcare systems had been better digitalized, we could have delivered a more comprehensive answer to the pandemic. Digital solutions will enable caregivers to decide on treatments that will be more useful and impactful in treating the general population. For a while, we have been working with clients, private hospitals and health institutions in Mexico on the implementation of tech-led solutions for patients. We want to introduce distinct health solutions, some of which are connected to COVID-19, while others are not. With digital solutions, our processes are more agile and generate greater attention, which is better integrated for patients.

Q: What are the specific benefits of Roche Diagnostics’ COVID-19 tests and what is their value against other tests?

A: It is important to understand what the tests are for. Some are intended to check whether the patient is infected while others are focused on checking whether the patient has had the virus but has now recovered. In the first group, Roche Diagnostics has developed a high-throughput PCR automatic molecular test. We were the first to launch this high-throughput solution and receive a fast approval from the FDA. We are also offering a rapid-testing solution – the antigen test. Antibody tests are in the other group. We have qualitive tests – if the patient had or did not have the virus – or quantitative antibody tests that can tell us how many antibodies the patient has generated, which is particularly important to assess the effectiveness of the new vaccines. This antibody tests provides insight into the immunological response of the patients. Our antibody tests are designed to detect high affinity antibodies, which could offer stronger information on immunity protection in the long term. 

Not only does our portfolio of diagnostic tests offer a comprehensive and differentiated group of solutions, which is important for national healthcare systems, but each test offers high quality. Only the most specific and accurate tests like ours deliver the information health providers need to define appropriate treatments.

Q: Does the company have any other solutions that will soon reach Mexico?

A: We continue to focus on diseases that represent heavy burdens across the globe. We are developing specific tests in the oncology field, which will give results far more quickly and will help increase survival rates for patients. Similar developments are ongoing in the cardiovascular area, as well as for diabetes. We have not stopped any of these developments due to COVID-19 and we are aiming to expand the access our solutions into other pathologies like infectious diseases, metabolism illnesses and other chronic diseases.

The company knows that only in Mexico there are almost 20 million patients with no access to healthcare. It is important that Roche Diagnostics plays its part in bringing together the private and public health sectors so we can change this situation. The arrival of COVID-19 has heightened the necessity of this collaboration but the aim is for it to last long after the pandemic has ended.

 

Roche Diagnostics offers numerous in-vitro diagnostics solutions, including molecular diagnostics, clinical chemistry and immunoassays, tissue diagnostics, point of care testing, patient self-testing and next-generation sequencing. It also offers laboratory automation, IT and support services.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst