Entrevista a Gitte Aabo, CEO & President of LEO Pharma

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Entrevista a Gitte Aabo, CEO & President of LEO Pharma

Del 12 al 14 de marzo se celebrará en Barcelona una nueva edición del eyeforpharma Bcn, encuentro internacional que sirve para analizar las últimas tendencias de nuestro sector en lo que a marketing, ventas e innovación se refiere. Es por ello que desde PMFarma os iremos presentando en las próximas semanas los actores claves de este encuentro (en inglés). Hoy entrevistamos a Gitte Aabo, CEO & President of LEO Pharma.

Could you briefly comment on your personal background?
I started in LEO Pharma’s finance department more than 27 years ago and have had several different positions primarily within finance, until I was announced President & CEO in 2008. When joining the company, I came fresh out of business school and was just looking for my first job. So, you could say it was a coincidence I came to LEO Pharma. But it was not a coincidence that I stayed. The unique company culture and true focus on helping patients appealed to me from day one – and do today more than ever.

How has digitalization changed the pharmaceutical industry?
Phenomena like big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning has and further will improve everything from research, trials, patient dialogue, diagnosis, adherence and much more. From our own digital innovation, I can point to an example within diagnosis. Here we see globally that only 45% of all GP consultations for a skin disease leads to the right diagnosis. That’s not because physicians are bad – on the contrary, they are highly skilled – it is simply because it is extremely difficult to diagnose when you have more than 3.000 skin diseases where symptoms often look alike. Results are, that more than half of consultations lead to the wrong diagnosis – and that patients therefore spend months with the wrong treatments and no improvement in their disease, just as they need to wait many months or maybe even years to get an appointment with a dermatologist.

By use of AI, algorithms and huge image banks with pictures that have been validated by up to 10 different dermatologists, we have managed to develop an application where you by simple use of a mobile phone can scan your disease and then get an indication of the diagnose. Today, it diagnoses psoriasis correct in 91% of the cases. As an example, this could be a tool for physicians, that could make a big difference both for them and the patients.

How should sales networks adapt to this new reality?
It is likely that we will see new and more personalized sales models with combination of personal and digital interaction depending on the preference of e.g. the individual HCP. But it is difficult to give one exact answer to that because local regulations on different markets open for different solutions – and because technological development happens with such a speed that change is a constant and we really can’t say what will be possible just short time into the future. But for the same reason you can say that in general, applying the highest possible level of agility and ability to identify and adapt to new technologies and ways of working will be essential.

How has the role of the patient changed in recent years?
Luckily, patients are becoming much more in control of their own disease and treatment of it.

As a patient today, you have access to information about your disease and treatment options. With a click you can connect to others in the same situation and learn from their experiences. And in all aspects, you have many more options to choose from. So, when referring to patients it is not patients in the traditional understanding but healthcare consumers who are informed and enabled to choose treatments among many alternatives. That, I think is good, because it creates the incentive for the industry to prioritize that, which at the end of the day benefits patients the most.

The pharmaceutical industry is already more than medicines, what should be its new added value?
There is a great potential within precision medicine which we will see unfold in the coming years. But also new added value will come from applying a much more holistic approach to what we do. Historically, pharma industry’s approach has been in the laboratories looking at how to scientifically treat a disease. Today, we approach things by looking at how we in the bigger perspective can improve quality of life for people with a disease. It not just about better treatments – it’s about better treatments and tools that fit into daily life with job, family, school, shopping and social activities. So, it is a different approach – and it starts with engaging with patients in different ways than what industry have traditionally done. As an example, I can point to our recent entrance into rare skin diseases, where we have partnered with San Francisco-based PellePharm to bring forward the first therapeutic treatment for Gorlin Syndrome. Before even being in the therapeutic area we invited patients into the process of assessing what would be the right opportunities and business case to pursue, so that at the end of the day we will bring the most value to them.

That approach combined with driving and combining all relevant scientific and technological advancements will add new value. At LEO Pharma we refer to it as dermatology beyond the skin.

Why is it important to attend eyeforpharma Barcelona 2019? What do you expect from this event?
As mentioned, industry and healthcare systems need to apply a much more holistic approach to helping patients. They are the real experts about how it is to live with a disease, and therefore dialogue and collaboration with patients simply is key to bring forward treatments and tools that makes the biggest difference for both patients, industry and healthcare systems. Here eyeforpharma plays a pivotal role in facilitating the dialogue and in putting focus on where we can look to improve. So I expect to travel home with more knowledge, insight and inspiration than when I came.


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