The Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche, a global biotech giant, has expressed its eagerness to serve more cancer and rare disease patients in Bangladesh. Having been in the country for more than three decades, the drugmaker sees more prospects for the country to progress towards a stronger commitment to non-communicable disease care.
Adriano Antonio Treve started his career at Roche as a trainee in 1985 and is currently serving as the area head of Roche Central Eastern Europe, Turkey, Russia and Indian Subcontinent (CEETRIS).
Talking to Tawsia Tajmim of The Business Standard on Monday he shared the company's views on the heathcare sector in Bangladesh and their innovation on cancer treatment and non-communicable disease care.
Roche has celebrated its 125th anniversary. Could you please share about this incredible journey and the company's commitment for the next 125 years?
Throughout our 125-year history, Roche has grown into one of the world's largest biotech companies, as well as a leading provider of in-vitro diagnostics and a global supplier of transformative innovative solutions across major disease areas. Our commitment to our people, partners, stakeholders and, most importantly, our patients remains as strong as it was on the first day of our journey.
We are on the verge of advances never seen before, where we have unmatched diagnostic capabilities and digital technologies.
We are at a critical point in science where clinical research informs pre-clinical research, and disease biology is on the verge of advances never seen before.
We have lots of investment into research and development. This year alone we spent about $13 billion in research and development.
Coupled with unmatched diagnostic capabilities, and digital technologies that are changing the pace of innovation in healthcare, Roche is providing an environment where inventive minds can flourish. We are focused on delivering medical advances that provide life-changing benefits to patients, and reduce healthcare burden on society.
Working towards more patient benefit at far less cost to society, where diagnosis, care plans, treatments and outcomes are integrated and monitored seamlessly to get the right solutions to the right patient at the right time. We continue to rethink the way we innovate and how care is provided – as an industry and as a society.
How is Roche working to improve access to medicine in lower and middle income countries?
Adriano Antonio Treve: Improvements in genomic sequencing have allowed us to develop much more tailored therapies for previously untreatable diseases.
As an example of our highly targeted therapies, we have developed a monoclonal antibody which binds to HER2 receptors present on the surface of HER-2-positive breast tumour cells, blocking them from receiving growth signals and flagging them for destruction by the immune system.
We can now provide a huge set of therapies, targeted to the genetic fingerprints of individual patients and tumours.
Despite our technological progress, the costs of non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and rare diseases fall disproportionately on lower and middle income countries (LMICs).
With 90% of future urban population growth expected to occur in LMICS, technological progress is only half the equation. Medicines can only change lives when they are accessible where they are needed.
We work with both traditional and non-traditional partners in developing countries to identify and solve gaps in care. Worldwide, we are still only reaching 18% of patients eligible for our medicines.
Though more and more patients are benefitting from our products in Bangladesh, there is still a long way to go to fulfil the vision of Universal Healthcare Coverage that we all want.
What needs to happen in Bangladesh to implement the vision of personalised and patient-centred healthcare?
Adriano Antonio Treve: The pace of change in medical science, technology, and data analytics is accelerating everywhere, but each country we work in has different healthcare infrastructure, political, and economic starting points.
We can now highly personalise healthcare at the patient level with more accurate and earlier patient identification based on genomic or molecular insights, greater confidence in positive treatment outcomes, less over-treatment and lower risk of side effects.
At Roche we are also committed to personalising our partnerships on the ground. So we maximise patient, health system, and societal impact in accordance with local priorities and what's feasible.
This is an opportunity to dramatically improve healthcare outcomes in Bangladesh from the individual to population scale.
Innovation saves lives, but scientific progress is only transformational when the results can be accessed by those in need.
To achieve the vision of patient-centred and personalised healthcare we need to see a system-wide upgrade in partnership between innovative researchers, regulators, and policy makers.
We are working to help our partners in Bangladesh implement system-wide digitalisation and best practices in data collection and analysis.
What collaboration has there been with the Bangladesh government to improve access to Roche's medicine?
Adriano Antonio Treve: Each year, more than ten thousand patients in Bangladesh are treated with innovative Roche medicines. But far too many cases continue to go untreated.
Without supporting diagnostic and health-system infrastructure, we cannot get the highly targeted medicines of tomorrow to the patients who need them.
We have therefore been pleased to partner with the Bangladeshi government to boost diagnostic capacity across the country.
We have been sharing our interests with the government to ensure the centres meet up-to-date testing requirements.
For instance, supporting excellence in testing for HER2 - a biomarker for certain types of breast cancer.
After the disruption of Covid-19, we are delighted to see progress on the cancer centres continuing at pace.
What approach is Roche taking to the healthcare challenges faced by women in Bangladesh?
Adriano Antonio Treve: Women face a range of unique health challenges – in Bangladesh and elsewhere – that need to be better understood and addressed through specifically designed healthcare strategies.
Not enough is known about conditions that only affect women, or about how conditions that affect both men and women impact them in different ways.
At Roche, we do not think these challenges have been adequately recognised or integrated into existing approaches to care.
We think this needs to be fixed, so we have made addressing the specific needs of women's health one of our strategic priorities.
We are working to ensure every patient with breast cancer and cervical cancer get comprehensive treatment in Bangladesh at an affordable cost.
We are also working with the partners and stakeholders to ensure early screening, awareness and prevention to avoid premature deaths in Breast and Cervical cancer.
What is Roche doing to innovate in pricing and new business models to serve more patients?
Adriano Antonio Treve: Together with our healthcare system partners we use tailored pricing solutions to ensure as many patients as possible have access to our innovation.
These include our finance-based agreements such as price volume, cost sharing and capitation, which address concerns around affordability and budget uncertainty.
Our performance-based agreements use real-world data to mitigate outcome uncertainty around the benefit and impact of our medicines.
Payment is made according to the level of clinical or health benefit achieved. Pay for performance models, based upon drug-utilisation data, have been up and running in Europe for some time now. We also have patient support programmes that are designed to support patients in out-of-pocket settings.
International Differential Pricing (IDP) provides a framework for aligning prices public health systems pay for our innovative new medicines with countries' relative incomes.
We expect this to broaden and ensure faster access to our medicines in countries with constrained economies. Different countries and healthcare systems have different needs and priorities. Our aim is to tailor solutions that best meet them.