Sandra Cifuentes
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Japanese Pharmaceutical Introduces Specialized Oncology Portfolio

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 09/27/2021 - 18:05

Q: Why was it important for Astellas to enter the Mexican market?

A: Astellas is a Japanese-based pharmaceutical company with over 126 years of experience. It is committed to transforming science into medical solutions that bring value to patients and health systems. Astellas Pharma Mexico began operating in the country in 2020 with the goal of improving the health of Mexicans and serving unmet patient needs in oncology (commercialized directly), urology and transplants (commercialized through a partner). Mexico occupies an important place in our international business strategy, so we are excited to invest in the country.

Q: What has been the impact of your innovative portfolio in Latin America, as you offer solutions for the main diseases affecting the region?

A: We believe that our R&D contributions could benefit patients and help governments make an efficient, optimal use of resources. We began in Brazil, followed by Colombia and then Mexico. We are growing our business model in Argentina through the recent opening of a representative office. We are fully committed to Latin America.

In Mexico, we hope to have positive results, with a focus on oncology, our largest therapeutic area. In 2021 and 2022 we will build a solid position in the market to  contribute to the improvement of Mexicans’ health.

Q: How does Astellas make its innovations accessible to patients?

A: Our commitment is that the right patient receives the right treatment at the right time. All the players in the sector have a responsibility to use the health system’s resources efficiently to reduce unequal access. We are working together with governments and all our strategic partners to ensure that the patient gets the major benefit.

Astellas is committed to bringing into the Latin American market an evolving portfolio of innovative and specialized therapies to address unmet patient needs. We continue to invest in R&D to support new medicines and technologies.

Q: How is Astellas prioritizing the development of new drugs for neglected diseases?

A: Astella aspires to bring life-changing treatments to patients suffering from diseases that lack treatment options. For that reason, we are researching innovative areas, such as gene therapy for rare neuromuscular diseases, mitochondrial therapy and immunotherapy for oncology and cell therapy for ophthalmological diseases. We have 126 years of expertise as a pharmaceutical company that researches, develops, manufactures and delivers therapies, while incorporating patient insights and collaborating with external partners.

Q: What is the role of personalized medicine in Astellas’ developments?

A: For Astellas, patients are at the center of everything we do. For that reason, all our developments follow a personalized medicine approach as we focus on specific bio molecular targets. For example, we use gene therapy to target a specific gene affected by a rare neuromuscular disease and our molecule for leukemia is designed to target a specific mutation called FLT3. 

Q: How has technology supported therapy development at Astellas?

A: Astellas has established a Focus Area Approach for its R&D strategy. Our Focus Area Approach is defined as a combination of three components: first, conditions with high disease relevance; second, versatile modalities and technologies; and third, diseases with unmet medical needs that can be tackled by the first two components. This strategy allows us to build a sustainable and expandable drug discovery approach to develop new platforms, leverage expertise and create innovative products.

Astellas is committed to being at the forefront of healthcare change, turning innovative science into value for patients. With the explosion of data, innovative science is not just happening in laboratories. Valuable innovation is increasingly being driven by data and analytics, and Astellas takes those insights further through a division dedicated to these capabilities: Advanced Informatics and Analytics. Astellas has invested heavily to create world-class capabilities in this field because we clearly see the role that data-derived knowledge plays in the healthcare industry. For instance, it might prevent disease onset and slow progression by analyzing personal data.

Q: What new technologies have the biggest potential to disrupt the healthcare industry?

A: The explosion of healthcare and life sciences data promises tremendous value for society. Thanks to data and insights generated through advanced analytical methods, organizations that are seeking to discover, develop and deliver new therapies are creating value for patients in amazing and ever-changing ways, developing solutions focused on the needs and expectations of everyone.

Data, informatics and analytics are already elevating Astellas’ entire value chain and business operations by optimizing operational efficiencies, enhancing decision-making and improving the value of our existing products and pipeline. Mexico, Peru and Panama have begun to adopt the available technology. This is great news because it will allow them to start innovating and we are very excited to collaborate to change the landscape.

Q: How is Astellas incorporating sustainability into its practices and why is it important for pharmaceutical companies to move toward sustainability?

A: Astellas assessed how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would impact its entire value chain and identified items for priority action using the SDG Compass as a reference. We contribute to the attainment of the SDGs through a variety of business activities, mainly those related to health and welfare aligned with goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being. Astellas supports this objective by improving access to health through global initiatives such as The Astellas Global Health Foundation, which supports the most underserved communities in low and middle-income countries. We firmly believe that the decisions we make today contribute toward a sustainable future for our planet, our society and our business. 

Q: As a woman in a leadership position in the healthcare industry, what has your journey to leadership been like and what advances have you noticed in gender equality in the industry?

A: In Latin America, the industry has done well in promoting initiatives for gender equality. For example, I am working in a Colombian movement called MPodera, created by women in the healthcare sector. This movement aims to promote shared leadership and female empowerment. However, transformative policies are still needed to eliminate barriers on employment access, wage gaps and improve women work-life balance.

 

Astellas Pharma US, Inc. is an affiliate of Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc., a Top 20 global pharmaceutical research company. Its main areas are urology, immunology (transplants), cardiology and infectious diseases. Its R&D priority areas are infectious diseases, diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, oncology and diseases of the central nervous system.

Photo by:   Astellas
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst