Interview with: Aleksandra Ivanovska, Country Manager at Roche North Macedonia
Published on: October 27, 2020
- What initiatives Roche Macedonia has taken in the last few months to be recognized as a company leader in the country?
Triggered by the pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry has undergone a tremendous change. It became bolder, faster, and definitely better. We managed to become agile in a highly regulated environment. Placing emphasis on partnership and collaboration, we are sharing data of proven treatments with academics and other stakeholders, offering access to expertise, research, manufacturing capabilities, and risk sharing with governments. As a company at the forefront of innovation, being deeply embedded in the healthcare system in North Macedonia has brought us even more in the spotlight with all the solutions we are developing to fight the pandemic.
It is worth mentioning what is Roche doing globally and what are we trying to bring to our health system? Starting from investigating new treatment options, to COVID testing and exploring collaborations throughout the industry. To name a few, Roche is investigating the medical product Actemra in COVID-19 associated with hospitalized pneumonia in several trials and treatment settings, together with the investigational antiviral Remdesivir. Reliable, high-quality testing is essential to help the healthcare system overcome the pandemic. Our portfolio includes a high-volume molecular test for detection of SARS-CoV-2, a laboratory-based antibody test, a SARS-CoV-2 rapid antibody test, and a rapid antigen test that detects SARS-CoV-2 within 15 minutes. In addition, we have announced the collaboration with Regeneron on developing and manufacturing the REGN-COV2 investigational antibody combination for COVID-19, the potential for one medicine to serve both as a treatment for those infected as well as protection for people exposed to the virus. This could be a critical line of defense against the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest partnership that we announced is that Roche and Atea partner with each other to jointly develop an orally administered direct-acting antiviral that has the potential to be the first oral antiviral to treat COVID-19 patients outside the hospital setting.
And there is no difference when it comes to Roche Macedonia, as we are bringing the same passion in delivering innovation to our patients. We work around the clock to make sure we secure access to our innovative medicines and diagnostic solutions to the patients. No innovation has value unless patients can benefit from it. Recently we have noted our 20 years of existence in North Macedonia. What is common for all those years is the continuous investments we make in our healthcare system. I refer to only some, in terms of bringing the know-how, educations for the healthcare workers, investments in clinical trials, donations in companion diagnostics, and many infrastructure donations, with only one goal – putting the patients in the center of everything we do.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had such a devastating effect on the world and our country and has put the resilience of our health systems to the test in an unprecedented way. As a leading healthcare company, we are doing all we can to support our country in minimizing the impact of COVID-19. In the past few months, we showed true leadership by collaborating with authorities, healthcare providers, and laboratories to ensure that patients continue to receive the needed tests, care, and treatment. We are proud to say that we managed to supply the market with no interruptions. Navigating through an unfamiliar area of working from home, managing lockdowns, childcare, and remote technology, our employees managed to develop and support solutions such as programs for home delivery of cancer treatment; home administration of hemophilia treatment, in partnership with the Red Cross. Also, worth mentioning are our donations in medical protective equipment and medicines for the treatment of patients with severe COVID pneumonia for the Clinic of Infectious Disease and City Public Hospital “8mi Septemvri”. We are currently in a process of finalizing the donation of Rapid Antigen Tests that will help our health institutions provide care for suspected COVID patients.
Our next phase will extend the support by providing digital-ready solutions to our healthcare system, and making available all the potential therapies for our patients.
- What was the main motivation for those initiatives?
In a COVID and a post-COVID-19 world, better healthcare systems are more important than ever. I have never been prouder to work for a company like Roche where innovation has been a driver for everything that we do. Especially now in the midst of the COVID pandemic, innovation has been even more noted, with a high sense of responsibility toward our patients and the healthcare system. Roche is a partner to all stakeholders in our ecosystem, not just as a company that delivers medicine but we stand together with governments, healthcare providers, and all those working in the front lines to overcome the pandemic.
3. What is your message to other companies during these uncertain times?
We need to embrace and springboard on the challenges that the COVID pandemic has brought to us. There are changes that should remain. Going back to the status quo would not be an appropriate or realistic option now. COVID is an opportunity to make us strive to reform the whole system and especially the healthcare system. We need to move towards data-driven ecosystems. The ability of health systems or organizations to build data-driven platforms and ecosystems is crucial now and post COVID-19. Relevant data is considered to be a valuable asset to better predict the upcoming health threats in the future, as well as any individual treatment options. We all have the responsibility to build a ‘toolbox’ of responses that governments can have at their disposal for rebuilding society and the healthcare system after the pandemic.
Partnerships between the public and private sector will become an essence both for us and also for the government. It is our obligation to change the perception that “for-profit” and “nonprofit” are creating a black and white reality, instead, we should be despite aiming for a better future, better economies, and better health.