"We are engaging policymakers to overcome existing barriers for bringing innovation into the market and to make the innovation ecosystem sustainable for both pharma companies and public spending."
Can you provide a brief overview of Ipsen's activities in Italy and share some characteristics of the Italian market with our audience?
Reflecting our global focus, Ipsen’s key therapeutic areas in Italy are oncology, neurosciences and rare diseases. We have been strengthening our focus in oncology since 1990 and today we have an extensive portfolio for different types of cancers. Our second pillar is dedicated to neurosciences, with a special focus on botulinum toxin to treat movement disorders. We are also developing our activities in rare diseases.
Italy is one of the top five pharma markets in Europe an it has an ageing demographic; this is coupled with a very comprehensive healthcare system that, generally speaking, works well even though it can be slow and lack coordination as the recent pandemic highlighted. One of Italy’s particularities which has become very clear during the Covid crisis is the regionalized structure which makes for a very complex market access pathway.
Can you comment on Ipsen’s evolving portfolio and current innovation priorities?
Our recent breakthrough innovation includes a treatment for hard-to-treat cancers, used alone or in combination with other innovative molecules.
Pioneering innovations attract the most attention from the public and financial analysts because they significantly improve clinical results or even survival for patients. However, marginal, continuous innovations on existing products are also greatly beneficial for patients and deserve being mentioned. We recently introduced in Italy a long-acting formulation of our product in prostate cancer, a molecule that has been in the market for 30 years – giving patients and healthcare professionals more options to control the condition. We also partnered with patients to identify ways to improve the delivery device of one of our products used in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors and acromegaly.
How important are digital platforms in the pharma space and can you highlight some of Ipsen's initiatives?
In 2021 we launched “Oltre la Spasticità” (Beyond spasticity), a website designed to help patients, caregivers and the wider public better understand spasticity and how to manage it, covering the whole patient journey from access to diagnosis, treatment, care and expertise. 19% of patients who suffered a stroke develop spasticity 3 months after the stroke episode, and up to 38% patients develop spasticity symptoms a year after the acute event. Unfortunately, it is still often under-diagnosed and under-treated, causing severe disabilities for the patient and impacting strongly on the quality of life of both patients and caregivers.
Thanks to a comprehensive partnership with Patients Associations and interested scientific societies, we developed this platform which includes a list of all specialists and care centers who can help patients understand and manage their symptoms.
What is the significance of the 2020 AIFA pricing and reimbursement update for new drugs?
We must work with the public authorities to redress the short-term budget focus and instead look at long-term KPI indicators and the impact that a new drug will have in a 10-years timeframe to create a more comprehensive value package for new innovations. Taking a multi-stakeholder approach, I believe we can reach a sustainable market scenario for Italy.
The new law introduced in 2020 for pricing and reimbursement came with various challenges. The initial objective was to increase transparency but by making the process more burdensome we fear it may further slow access to innovation in Italy. The new law requires AIFA to renegotiate pharmaceutical products every two years. We think this will create an unnecessary burden and excess workload for AIFA and may negatively impact innovation as our sector needs a predictable and stable environment to operate.
Ipsen Italy was awarded for “Best workplace for women”. What has earned Ipsen this award?
We are proud of this award especially since it is based on the genuine feedback of our employees within a survey carried out by the Great Place to Work Institute Italia.
This is the result of a long-standing commitment to make Ipsen the best possible place for everyone. We value talent and diversity, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
What are Ipsen’s key priorities in the next 2-3 years?
Our goal is to continue bringing new assets of real and added value to patients. We are also engaging policymakers to overcome existing barriers for bringing innovation into the market and to make the innovation ecosystem sustainable for both pharma companies and public spending.