In today´s edition of the biweekly newsletter, MVA Update, we had the pleasure of publishing an interview with Managing Director of Merck in Denmark, Enrique Alvarez. We asked him a few questions about his international perspective on the framework conditions for life science and healthcare in the region and his business objectives as new Managing Director of Merck in Denmark. We think his answers are worth sharing also with non-subscribers!
1)As the Managing Director of Merck in Denmark, what do you think are the most striking features of the life science eco-system in the Medicon Valley region?
The life science eco-system in the Medicon Valley region is one of the best in Europe and is often compared to Switzerland and Germany. Consider everything the region encompasses: excellent research facilities; the largest recruitment base of highly-skilled employees; Scandinavia’s biggest pool of private and public sector researchers; an excellent clinical trials environment offering close collaboration between public and private scientists; access to 12,000 researchers, 15 science parks, 14 universities as well as other colleges of higher education that offer top ranked university-industry cooperation. All of this makes the region a rewarding research environment. For a vibrant science and technology company like ours, we continuously explore new collaboration and research partnership opportunities. For this reason we’ve also recently become a member of Trial Nation, the Association for the advancement of clinical trials in Denmark.
2) What are the must-win battles for Merck now and in the long term in this particular region?
Merck has thrived as a family-owned chemical and pharmaceutical company for more than 350 years. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases, to enabling the intelligence of devices the company has a diverse history of innovation. From medicines to treat conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and infertility as well as providing scientists with lab materials, technologies and services to make research and biotech production simpler, faster and safer within life science – our goal is to make a difference to millions of lives. Advancing public-private partnerships within biopharma and life science (as we have seen unfold during the COVID-19 crisis) as well as ensuring a continued smooth working process in the Danish Medicines Council is also of key importance.
3) What do you think are the key challenges and opportunities in the political environment?
Our healthcare system has been under significant resource and cost pressure for the last couple of years. This will continue to be the case moving forward. That is why we hope and anticipate that the forthcoming reform in healthcare will look into how we can make better use of the resources we have in the sector and involve the life science industry as well as a variety of different healthcare experts such as nurses and healthcare professionals even more. From Merck’s perspective, we believe it will be key to ensure that we address two things: first, the demographic challenge due to the low birthrate. Since 2014, Danes have only given birth to 1,7 children per household?. This potentially will have wide societal implications for the economy, workforce, as well as Danish identity and culture. Therefore, we call on the Government and politicians to address how we deal with fertility challenges in our society. Secondly, it is important that we continue to have a society where patients, including those affected by diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis, can continue to receive access to the best treatment options available. We are encouraged by the fact that the Danish Medicines Council will introduce QALYs in the beginning of 2021. This will be an important development in maximizing the benefits from health care spending, overcoming regional variations in access that currently exists and contain costs while managing demand.