Biogen’s hemophilia spinoff, Bioverativ, is officially here. And while the company may be new, when it comes to corporate image, it intends to keep the old.
"Biogen has, I think, a terrific corporate brand that is about putting the patient first, and it's about innovation, and we’ll carry that forward absolutely," Bioverativ CEO John Cox said in an interview at January’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
While patient-centricity is a quality drugmakers across the industry are talking up these days, hemophilia companies take it to a whole new level. The cost of treating the disease, its tiny patient population, and the fierce competition among drugmakers together prompt pharmas to build relationships with patients at a young age. In some cases, companies offer grants, gifts, services, scholarships and more to firm up the connection, practices that have drawn some scrutiny.
Bioverativ EVP and chief global therapeutic operations officer Rogério Vivaldi, M.D., sees his company taking those patient relationships up a notch by putting them at the center of its commercial model, setting up "specific functions that touch each group of stakeholders"—and, as rivals have also done, enlisting hemophilia patients and caregivers themselves to help build bridges.
'Patient-centric' is quite the buzzword in pharma these days, with many companies claiming the title, but Vivaldi says his company will exemplify it. “I say you don't need only to say, you have to feel, to breathe ... Everything we do, we have to put patients first."
Cox also says Bioverativ can use R&D to help showcase its commitment to the community, something “our corporate brand will very much be about.”
Not only did the company, as part of Biogen, recently turn out the “first real innovation ... in 20 years” with the rollout of long-acting products in both hemophilia A and B, Cox said, but it’s also “looking to work on areas of unmet need.” Bioverativ is looking at helping women with hemophilia and providing analysis, studies and data around outcomes such as joint health, for example.
That’s not to say Bioverativ’s competitors—which include Baxalta owner Shire, Bayer and Novo Nordisk—aren’t looking for their own ways to innovate and get ahead. And they're not ready to cede leadership to the newly independent company.
“Hemophilia? Well, you can’t come to this conference without hearing a lot of news," Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov said during a presentation at J.P. Morgan. "Here’s the news that is the old news and will be continuing to be the news: Shire is the undisputed leader."