Mariana Tolovi
Managing Director Latin America
Edwards Lifesciences
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View from the Top

Local Expertise, Involvement Deliver Personalized Solutions

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 20:00

Q: What advances has Edwards Lifesciences made in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases?

A: Cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death worldwide for the past 20 years.

Edwards Lifesciences orporation traces its experience with cardiovascular diseases back to 1958, when Miles “Lowell” Edwards set out to build the first artificial heart. In 1960, the first Starr-Edwards valve implant was successfully performed in a 52-year-old patient, who enjoyed a healthy and productive life.

Heart valve disease is a common condition of ageing, with up to 12 percent of over 75 years of age suffering from some form of the disease. It is a serious, life-threatening condition. About 50 percent of people suffering from severe symptomatic aortic stenosis die within two years.

The company’s commitment to innovation is backed-up with significant investment in R&D, currently running at 17 percent of the company’s annual revenues, twice the industry average.

We focus on building partnerships with physicians, placing Edwards Lifesciences at the forefront of major breakthroughs in the treatment of valve disease.

For over 60 years, Edwards’ therapies continue to benefit patients across the world. Our SAPIEN valves are the most widely studied transcatheter valves, with more than 30,000 patients treated in clinical trials and registries in over 65 countries. Since the first commercial approval of the SAPIEN transcatheter valve in 2007, the SAPIEN family of valves have treated hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide.  

With a growing ageing population, Edwards Lifesciences is addressing new challenges by focusing on tackling life-threatening diseases, allowing for active and healthy ageing and transforming healthcare systems.

Q: In Mexico, 70 percent of the valves used in patients are mechanical.  What is Edwards Lifesciences strategy to change this market?

A: New technology adoption is different in all countries worldwide. Mexico is a country with experience in mechanical valves. Edwards Lifesciences continues allying with medical societies, clinicians and academia to generate evidence and increase awareness on the benefits of tissue valves to patients and society.

Edwards Lifesciences generates evidence that support the benefits of our technologies to patients and healthcare systems. In Mexico, we published a paper alongside specialists from public institutions addressing the positive impact tissue valves can have on health. We partner with medical societies, decision makers and payers to propose solutions. As a global company, we value the partnership with our stakeholders worldwide. We have over 15,000 employees dedicated to helping clinicians, patients and their families.

Q: What are the main innovations Edwards Lifesciences is introducing to improve the quality of life of patients with heart disease?

A: Edwards Lifesciences is a global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease, critical care and surgical monitoring. We collaborate with the world’s leading clinicians and researchers to address unmet healthcare needs. It keeps innovating with its surgical biological valves. We introduced RESILIA, which is a bovine pericardial tissue treated with a special integrity preservation technology that effectively eliminates free aldehydes, a key factor in tissue calcification, while protecting and preserving tissue.

RESILIA has helped to improve the durability of valves. Younger and more active patients may benefit from this technology as it reduces the need for long-term use of blood-thinning medication. Mexico will be the first country in America Latina to use RESILIA in segment-specific procedures, in which physicians must replace the aortic tract and the valve. It will allow surgeons to do these two procedures in a single surgery.

Edwards Lifesciences leadership in transcatheter heart valve replacement is based on our commitment to meaningful innovation, rigorous scientific study, extensive clinician training and education and significant investment. The Edwards SAPIEN valve platform continues to raise the bar as the most widely studied transcatheter heart valve worldwide. 

The success of TAVI and Edwards’ expertise in surgical repair therapies has led to the development of new transcatheter therapies to repair mitral and tricuspid valves affected by valve regurgitation.

Q: How has Edwards Lifesciences secured product provision after Mexico’s public sector changed its medical supplies and medicines acquisition schemes?

A: Edwards Lifesciences’ commitment to tackle life-threatening diseases and enable active and healthy ageing can only be fulfilled if the company operates in a welcoming environment. While some believe that societal change is the sole responsibility of policy makers or governments, it is critical to understand that the companies delivering the therapeutic solutions that make a difference not only have the legitimacy, but also the responsibility to promote change at societal level.

With that vision, Edwards Lifesciences was able attend the Mexican healthcare system needs.   We made all the efforts to adapt to the changes requested by the authorities. Our Critical Care Business Unit and Supply Chain & Logistics teams had to order from UNOPS using a very different process than that which we use globally. We had to change our factories’ supply chain and quality to meet the requirements of this new process, and we were successful. The project was also carried out in record time and we supplied the first delivery in early August 2021.

As a global company, making such a significant change for a Latin American country shows our patient-centric culture. UNOPS is a recent process for us and we are confident that through collaboration between company and the government, we will meet their requirements while also meeting the patient and societal needs.

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

A: As an engineer, I am used to being the only woman or one of the few in the room. But for 10 years, I had a female general manager and I learned the difference this makes in leadership and in my development as a person. For instance, when I had my two children, I was still able to accept job promotions while taking my kids to strategic planning sessions because I was breastfeeding.

At the time, we would not openly speak about gender equality issues but the company naturally balanced the positions and it is through that experience that I learned that having equal representation of women is important to allow others to grow personally and professionally.

However, we also need to include men in the conversation. We need men to understand and participate in achieving gender equality.

 

Edwards Lifesciences is a global leader in patient-focused medical innovation for structural heart disease and critical care monitoring.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst