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We are committed to transforming healthcare by embracing the digital revolution and enabling the smart, efficient and safe use of data for the benefit of patients, science and research. Interview with Christian Rodseth, Managing Director Janssen, Administrator Johnson & Johnson Romania

Mr. Rodseth, you are part of Janssen for more than 13 years, and you have been working as the Managing Director of the company in Romania since 2016. What have been your challenges in this period and what are your objectives in this role?

 My experience in the pharmaceutical industry spans over 16 years, the majority of which I’ve spent with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Throughout this time, I have had the opportunity to experience different business sectors such as sales & marketing, health economics and general management, as well as a diversified range of geographies. In my current role, I have taken on the mission to make people’s lives better from a health standpoint. More than that, Janssen is member of a number of trade and business associations, of which I am the Vice-president of the Local American Working Group (LAWG) and President of the Romanian Association of International Medicine Manufacturers (ARPIM).

We are proud to be a part of Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest and most broadly-based healthcare company. Backed by the size and reach of Johnson & Johnson, we are transforming lives and reinventing healthcare.

Healthcare systems are shifting toward delivering improved outcomes, enhancing the patient experience and providing value-based care.

At Janssen, our objective is to extend access to pharmaceutical innovation for the Romanian patients. Complementary, we develop programs and structures that empower patients to manage their diseases efficiently and that support them to live their lives as close as possible they did before the diagnosis.

We made great progress towards this objective and key to this was dialogue and collaboration with all stakeholders, health authorities included. In addition, we also address two important challenges: the clawback tax and the policy of the lowest price for medicines in Europe that currently project their negative effects on the Romanian patients. We hope to in the near future through constructive dialogue come to sustainable solutions that impact Romanian patients positively.

 

The clawback tax – Tell us what the most appropriate calculation mechanism in your opinion would be.

In the last years, the pharmaceutical industry through the clawback tax covered for the cost of the treatment for 1 out of 4 patients, since the reimbursed medicines budget allocated by the authorities is not enough to cover all current Romanian patients’ treatment needs. Despite an increase of the reimbursed medicines budget, which the industry recognizes as such, the underlying issue remains almost the same – the reference budget. The industry’s estimations show that it will increase close to 30% by the end of the current year. Should the current tax project analyzing a differentiated calculation formula for the innovative pharmaceutical companies and the generic ones be passed, then we speak about 35% taxation on innovation versus 23% for the generics.

At present, pricing and reimbursement levels by governments and EU market forces do not accurately reflect the difference between the innovative and generic business models. Janssen supports all measures by the EU and its Member States that level the competitive playing field by rewarding innovation and establishing fairer pricing models.

Returning to the clawback tax, Janssen supports the calculation mechanism proposed by our trade association ARPIM that caps the clawback tax, excludes from the tax calculation the medicines under 20-25 lei, as well as the hospital consumption of medicines. At the same time, we propose that the industry pays the clawback tax on the producer price and does not cover the additional costs in the supply chain. Ultimately if we all place the needs of patients first we will find an equitable solution to the clawback that allows for continuous and regular updates of the reimbursement list.

 

This year, Hackathon4Health has reached its third edition. We know that the strategic partners of this project are the US Embassy in Romania and the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania (AmCham Romania). What can you tell our readers about the objectives and results of this project?

We believe that the best healthcare solutions to cover some unmet needs and gaps in the health system can only be solved through co-creating digital solutions together with all the stakeholders reunited around the same goal, and most importantly: together with the community, i.e. the ultimate beneficiaries. Our objective through this shared platform is to generate innovative ideas and IT&C solutions that may have a positive impact upon the health of Romanian patients while improving digitalization in the health system.

For all three editions we had as strategic partners the U.S. Embassy in Romania and the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania, and Smart Everything Everywhere as implementation partner. In total, the Hackathon4Health brought together nearly 300 participants with a result of more than 60 projects. Of these, nine are the winners of 5,000 USD pre-seed funding each from Johnson & Johnson Romania and benefit from mentoring from our teams so that they manage to launch their projects in the market. One of the projects from 2017, a mobile application supporting parents in monitoring their babies’ vaccination calendar and healthcare status, is already available for external users. Also, the winning projects from 2018 are in advanced stages of testing in real life, are fully functional, and both us and the developers are quite confident with the prospects for success and launching at large scale.

 

Janssen Romania promotes the improvement of the access to innovation for the Romanian patients at European standards. Tell us about the electronic health registers and their interoperability.

We are committed to transforming healthcare by embracing the digital revolution and enabling the smart, efficient and safe use of data for the benefit of patients, science and research. As an example, we believe that the interoperability of Electronic Health Records, will be an essential step to capitalize on the full potential of patients’ health data with benefits for patients, health providers, researchers (public & private), industry and governments. Patients would increase their health self-awareness and become more active in the management of their health. Furthermore, the sharing of personal health information with any physician in the EU will avoid duplication of medical tests and reduce medical fees and administrative burden. Healthcare professionals would have a comprehensive view of the patient’s medical background and history over time, ensuring the continuity of care.

Member States would be able to develop an interconnected electronic health platform that could be rolled out across all national administrative units achieving a balance of costs and benefits in healthcare budgets (e.g. better health outcomes and avoidance of duplicate medical tests). It also makes possible to obtain better health data, along with the ability to tailor specific prevention programs, improve reimbursement systems and develop more sustainable healthcare policies.

 

Last year, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s Pharmaceutical Company, celebrated 25 years of activity in the Romanian pharmaceutical industry. Please, describe in a few words Janssen’s activity in our country, in this lapse of time. What would be, in your opinion, the most important landmarks?

Last year, indeed, had a special significance for our local organization, our company being one of the first multinationals to open an office in Romania, back in 1993. A permanent landmark to us, and to our commitment, is making innovation available to the Romanian patients. The company’s local portfolio is made up of innovative medicines for some of the most severe illnesses such as blood cancers (chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, mantle cell lymphoma), prostate cancer, schizophrenia, psoriasis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. With a deep responsibility to the people we serve, we work tirelessly to advance and improve how medicines are discovered, developed and made. We work to ensure broad and timely access to medicines through unique collaborations with governments, healthcare agencies and others and we advocate for sustainable healthcare systems that value innovation and are accessible to people around the world. Furthermore, seeking to address some of the unmet care needs, we developed patients support programs that help healthcare professionals to make the most suitable treatment choice for their patients. For instance, in prostate cancer, patients enrolled in the program have access to imagistic regular tests as per their oncologist recommendation so that they can document their therapeutic results or disease progression.

 

Your company is involved in charity and social responsibility projects. Tell us a few words about the most recent actions in which Janssen Romania has been involved.

As Johnson & Johnson we are the largest healthcare company worldwide. We’ve shaped health & wellness for more than 130 years. Across three business segments, we are present in more than 175 countries, employing over 130,000 people worldwide. Given the very large variations of healthcare systems across regions, it’s crucial that we use our company global reach and expertise while focusing on the local set-up and the needs people and patients have in each country.

In 2017, we launched our community support platform: Together for Every Tomorrow focusing on three priority lines. In 2018 we participated as initiators or supporters in 41 projects with 35,000 direct beneficiaries. The projects we develop are either aimed at improving the education on healthcare or focus on bigger community purposes.

Last year, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary, we were the main partner of the Swimathon fundraising competition where 25 projects managed to raise financing through the volunteer participation of swimmer teams. Most recently, we just concluded the WiSTEM2D program together with Junior Achievement that we hope it managed to inspire students to pursue studies with STEM domains and careers.

 

What is your message for the American community in Romania, now, when you are celebrating the Independence Day?

We are members of several business associations and have very good relations with other U.S. based companies that are present in Romania. More than that, we always have had a constant dialogue with the U.S. Embassy in Romania, and H.E. Mr. Ambassador Hans Klemm, which we value highly. My message would be that we should continue to collaborate at all levels in the country, in the private and public sectors so that we can support further advancements in communities and quality of life, and especially from the perspective of the healthcare sector.

 

 

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