· 2 min read · Features

We need a special workforce, which understands that what we do today lays foundations for future health

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I feel fortunate to work in an industry that makes an enormous difference to the lives of billions of people worldwide. But, despite its many achievements, the pharmaceutical industry must continually work to ensure it is beyond reproach.

Image has a significant impact, both on current employees and on recruitment of high-potential individuals. Many of our 14,000-strong workforce in Janssen EMEA have their own stories concerning the health of family members and friends and so see how their work helps improve the health of millions of people.

We must, of course, be financially viable. Without my team delivering strong results, the company is unable to invest in discovering, developing and delivering treatments for patients in the future, which is our fundamental remit.

Society’s health standards and life expectancy exist largely due to previous and long-sighted investment in research and development (R&D). In the past 20 years, scientists have developed more than 300 new treatments for more than 150 conditions. Last year, Janssen EMEA launched new drugs in prostate cancer, hepatitis C, HIV and schizophrenia, revolutionising how patients are treated, improving quality of life and extending life expectancy.

Janssen devotes $4.5 billion to R&D annually. Because of this, we have one of the best portfolios in the industry.

Our challenge is to continue to innovate for the benefit of patients and society.

R&D is a 20-year, €1.25 billion ‘needle in a haystack’ search for each approved treatment. It can take 14 years to bring a treatment to patients and, along the way, promising compounds, which our people dedicate years to, will not get over the line. Because of these long lead times, we are focusing on diseases with high unmet need, which will be a heavy burden on society in the future. In 20 years, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s are predicted to have huge social and financial impacts in Europe.

Our people must respond to these challenges, while maintaining a marathon runner’s stamina for the future health needs of society. We require high intellectual capital, specialist skills and, importantly, the leadership flexibility to change as the industry evolves. We need a special workforce, which understands that what we do today lays foundations for the next generation’s health. In a world of short-termism, this is a special characteristic.

Treatments delivered in 20 years must be even better than the ones patients benefit from today. Fostering the next generation of a discerning, expert and devoted workforce will be an ongoing challenge. Janssen EMEA has many long-standing commercial and CSR initiatives that intuitively complement the Millennial Generation’s – our future workforce’s – social conscience. This inherent fit strengthens our workforce sustainability, but more importantly, bolsters future treatment discovery, development and delivery.

Gaining and maintaining respect to attract the best people is a common thread across industry. The future of health outcomes, for individuals and society, depends on the pharmaceutical industry’s success in this endeavour.

Jane Griffiths is group company chairman of Janssen, EMEA