Pfizer celebrates 175 years of dedication to scientific exploration and patient-focused advancements

Tuesday 4 Jun 2024

For 175 years, Pfizer has led medical breakthroughs, advanced global health and made a lasting impact on societies

Pfizer’s Regional President for the Middle East, Russia and Africa (MERA), Patrick van der Loo

In this interview, Pfizer’s Regional President for the Middle East, Russia, and Africa (MERA), Patrick van der Loo, reveals the company’s unwavering commitment to innovation in medicines, vaccines, and supply chains.

"We have been operating in Egypt for over 60 years and will continue to support the government’s efforts in transforming the healthcare sector for the well-being of the Egyptian population, in line with the Strategic Objectives for Health to 2030. The Africa Health ExCon positions Egypt as a hub for healthcare in Africa, and I am glad to attend it during my visit to Egypt," he says.

What is the objective of your current trip to Egypt and are you signing any agreements with the Egyptian government during the visit?

Egypt is one of the key markets for Pfizer in the MERA region (Middle East, Russia and Africa), and this is my second visit to Egypt in less than a year.

It is always a great opportunity to engage with the team in Egypt, listen to their inspiring stories and get to know more about their tremendous work and future plans to delivering our latest innovative treatments to patients in Egypt.

I also get to meet with our customers and partners and discuss our long-standing partnerships that support the current transformation we are witnessing in the Egyptian healthcare sector.

I am glad to be attending the Africa Health Excon that is held under the patronage of His Excellency, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, which I believe has created a great platform for exchanging experiences and knowledge for the African continent, and I am proud of Egypt’s efforts to complement and collaborate with the African countries through a clear vision to establish Africa as a continental hub for health innovation and trade.

In addition, this year marks our 175th anniversary and I am excited to be celebrating it in Egypt where we have been operating over the past 60 years and aspire to grow our business, ensure access of our innovative medicines to millions of Egyptians, and continue to support the government’s efforts in developing the healthcare sector in line with Egypt Vision 2030.

Africa Health Excon has been running for 3 years now. What opportunities has it provided for your business growth during this time?

We are proud to be one of the sponsors of the “Africa Health ExCon” for the third year in a row.

In addition to being a platform for exchanging experiences and knowledge, the “Africa Health ExCon” positions Egypt as a hub for healthcare in Africa and the MENA Region and is an important shift in the regional conferences concerned with the future of healthcare in Africa and the Arab world.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the UPA (The Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement, Medical Supply and Technology Management) in bringing together hundreds of exhibitors from various countries and leading international healthcare and pharma organizations to share their global expertise and knowledge with the objective of developing the healthcare sector in Africa.

And of course, the presence of His Excellency President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi reflects his support to the pharma industry and the healthcare sector.

During the first Africa Excon, we had the opportunity to share with His Excellency President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi an overview of Pfizer’s partnership with the Egyptian government and our support for various presidential initiatives to achieve Egypt Vision 2030.

What significance does Pfizer's 175th anniversary have for the global society and pharmaceutical industry?

2024 marks a significant year for Pfizer as we celebrate our 175th anniversary. That’s 175 years of unwavering commitment to advancing global health and making a lasting impact on society. As we reflect on our journey, we take immense pride in the profound contributions we have made to medicine and technology.

Our history is filled with groundbreaking achievements that have saved lives and improved patient outcomes, from bringing forth game-changing therapies for heart health and breast cancer, to developing the first mRNA vaccine against COVID-19.

We are determined to transform the landscape of healthcare for all patients, and we’re driven by the deep belief that we are capable of improving healthcare for everyone and for that reason we continue to innovate across medicines and vaccines, manufacturing and supply chains, and so much more.

At Pfizer, we remain focused on where and how we can make the most significant impact– providing novel, scalable and sustainable access solutions; bringing Pfizer breakthroughs to address the most pressing health needs; and investing in people and in knowledge transfer to healthcare professionals and in technology to strengthen healthcare system for the most vulnerable people.

How have you been supporting the Egyptian government's efforts to enhance the healthcare sector?

We appreciate the efforts of the Egyptian government and the healthcare authorities in transforming the healthcare sector for the wellbeing of the Egyptian population in line with the Strategic Objectives for Health to 2030, and I am delighted that we are given the opportunity to support this vision.

Pfizer has been supporting this transformation through working closely with the government, healthcare professionals and the wider healthcare sector to deliver on our commitment “breakthrough innovation to change patients’ lives”, and we will continue to invest in the Egyptian market focusing on knowledge transfer to HCPs, support the digitalization strategy and bring to the market our latest medicines.

We will continue to serve as a trusted partner to the government and support its efforts in developing the healthcare sector. And I would like to acknowledge the Ministry of Health for its efforts to encourage the cooperation with the private sector in key health initiatives and projects that support Egypt Vision 2023, and I look forward to continuing and growing our strong partnership with the Ministry of Health in the coming years. 

Can you share with us the company's milestones in Egypt and in the MERA region?

Throughout our 60+ years of our presence in Egypt, we have partnered with the Egyptian government in initiatives and projects that contribute to the development of the healthcare system and improve the efficiency of healthcare professionals, in addition to ensuring access of our innovative treatments to millions of patients in Egypt.

One of our key milestones in Egypt and a proud moment to us is our partnership with “Hayah Karima”; the national initiative that was launched by H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt in 2019 to improve the living standards of the most vulnerable citizens in Egypt. Our partnership with Hayah Karima Foundation comes as part of our commitment to support the Egyptian government’s strategy to achieve sustainable development in line with Egypt Vision 2030 through the joint efforts between the public and the private sectors. It also helps us continue our journey of expanding access to reliable and affordable healthcare to patients in Egypt.

In addition, we were one of the key partners in the Presidential initiative to support women's health, which supported around 48.8 million women as part of the breast cancer screening programs since its launch in 2019.

We partnered with the Ministry of Health, the General Authority of Healthcare, the Women Health Initiative, and the Egyptian Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology in the ‘Take Action’ campaign for Cancer Awareness and Screening that was launched last year in Port Said to raise awareness about breast, lung, colon and ovarian cancer and the importance of early screening.

I am also proud that last year we launched eight new products; four for cancer treatment, and this year we are bringing to the market four new treatments.

Our strategic partnerships expand across different MERA countries. For example, last month in Kenya we launched “Living With”, a new app designed to provide cancer patients with tools and resources to navigate the challenges of living with cancer. The App was launched in collaboration with national patient advocacy groups.

Moreover, last year we signed two MOUs with the Ministry of Health in Morocco. The first one focuses on the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and improving the Patient's care pathway. The second MOU aims to strengthen the Moroccan laboratory capacity for a national antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance system, foster talent, and develop operational AMR research.

Another example is our innovative partnership with the Dubai Academic Health Corporation and AXDEV Global to enhance care for patients with chronic illnesses. Through an independent grant from Pfizer’s Global Medical Grants, we will create an evidence-based model to boost capacity development at all levels.

How should middle and low-income countries adopt precision medicine? What role can Pfizer play in this regard?

At Pfizer, we envision a future where disease doesn't win, but science does, and that every patient, regardless of where they live, will have access to life-saving medicines, treatments, and vaccines.

Our goal when it comes to precision medicine is to develop medicines and vaccines with potentially transformational outcomes for patients by treating the right patients with the right medicines – an approach that’s embedded in the development of every product in our portfolio.

In the MERA region, we have developed a strong understanding of patients’ needs and know that barriers to access aren't just about the price of treatments but occur throughout the patient journey.

A few years ago, we launched ‘An Accord for a Healthier World’ initiative to provide low-income countries with our full portfolio of vaccines and medications at a non-profit basis. This initiative aims to close the health equity gap and help enable greater access to healthcare innovation for 1.2 billion people living in 45 lower-income countries around the world. This greatly helps in reducing the health inequities that exist between many lower-income countries and the rest of the world.

Placing affordability at the heart of our business, so far, we have managed to support the lives of over 15,000 patients suffering from various oncology, inflammatory, and rare diseases through our 30 access programs in 11 countries across the region.

We also launched IUdo mobile app in Egypt, Qatar and Lebanon, which is an innovative mobile app that aims to improve the patient experience for people accessing Pfizer’s medicines through our affordability program. IUdo is designed to improve both the patient and healthcare professional’s experience by speeding up program enrolment, providing seamless access to support treatment plans, and allowing the support program journey to be managed directly from their phones. The launch of IUdo places Pfizer at the forefront of digital innovation in the realm of pharmaceutical healthcare and comes in line with our belief that everybody deserves to be seen, heard and cared for.

In a world where everything is moving towards sustainability, what initiatives is Pfizer undertaking to reduce its environmental footprint and promote sustainability in its operations?

Since 2005, Pfizer has proactively communicated about our impact on society and the environment. In 2020, we took a new approach to align with the evolving landscape of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) reporting and stakeholder expectations about our impact on society. We also aligned our ESG priority areas and KPIs to our enterprise strategy and our core values that we believe will allow Pfizer’s colleagues to deliver on our purpose and unlock the power of our science.

Since 2023 we focused our efforts on achieving the Net-Zero Standard by 2040, which is 10 years earlier than the expectations of the standard. We also managed to achieve 13.9% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2019 baseline.

In addition, Seagen integration is designed to bring the best of the outside in as we focus on delivering transformative cancer therapies. Adding to this, 38% of Pfizer New Molecular Entity and novel biologic applications approved by the FDA between 2019-2023 are designated as Breakthrough Therapies

We know that health equity is only achieved when breakthroughs are made accessible to all, and we are focused on achieving transformational change by applying not only our science, medicines, and vaccines; but our people, resources, and expertise to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

And as I shared earlier, our “Accord for a Healthier World” and Patient Support Programs (PSPs) are good examples of our efforts that ensure access of our innovative treatments to eligible patients.


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