Adriano Antonio Treve, head of Central Eastern Europe, Turkey, Russia and Indian Subcontinent areas for Swiss multinational pharma company Roche, has recently visited Bangladesh. In a recent interview, he shed light on his journey with the world’s largest biotech company, its challenges and prospects in healthcare, cancer and government interventions etc.
Q: How do you evaluate your journey with Roche?
Treve: Roche is truly an innovation driven company, addressing the unmet needs of the patients across the world. Journey with Roche is a fascinating and exciting one. We are currently focusing on oncology and serving cancer patients. We aim to deliver faster services to more patients. Our personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients.
Still there are many untapped areas to do ethical business here in Bangladesh. We see our possibilities of expansion in terms of bringing new products and serving more patients. We have been here for three decades and we want to continue our journey and make an impact on patients’ lives.
Q: As you have explored many countries, what are the similar challenges and success stories in healthcare, especially cancer care, you have experienced?
Treve: Bangladesh is doing excellent in terms of development. The recent achievements in the fight against communicable diseases are very positive for the future. The pharmaceutical industry is still a generic driven market and there is a scope to do more with biologics and making innovative products available for the patients.
Pharma industry are often considered as a business entity across the world but Roche is beyond a business organisation and it focuses on serving patients by collaborating with development initiatives.
In terms of cancer care, I believe Bangladesh is on the right track in case of commitment and vision. We hope Bangladesh will also achieve a lot in its fight against non-communicable diseases.
There are still a lot of patients with rare diseases and they need to be addressed too. The financial burden of cancer and rare disease is significant to the LIC and LMICs, devising financial strategies are very important.
Improvement of quality of testing or diagnostic facilities is another challenge where we need to put extra attention.
Q. As you have been a part of Roche Bangladesh’s journey, what differences do you see in the last three decades of Bangladesh? Do you see any progress in the pharmaceutical industry?
Treve: The airport was situated in a greener area earlier and today it is in the city.
Bangladesh’s progress in different fields have already been globally recognised and we feel proud to be in Bangladesh. The pharma market is still generic driven where the world is moving towards innovation driven strategies.
Despite all the challenges, the country has made extraordinary progress in the generic market and in the fight against communicable diseases.
Our purpose goes beyond market share, our key purpose is beyond selling products, our purpose is to serve patients and ensure access to therapies. We have much more duties beyond business.
Q. In the recent cancer prioritisation at Bangladesh and NCD Focus, how do you see the prospects of serving patients at Bangladesh?
Treve: We congratulate Bangladesh government for taking timely initiatives and making a bold commitment for non-communicable diseases, especially cancer. This will surely open new doors for the cancer patients in Bangladesh. We are very much looking forward to the execution of the commitment and the collaboration scopes to serve patients together.
The future treatments will be done based on data. Diagnosing the disease by analysing the data and then going for treatment. We work together with all these tools.
Affordability will be another matter of concern, as Bangladesh is an “out-of-pocket” market. The recent commitment on Universal Health Coverage will also be the key instrument to serve cancer patients.
Q. What are the challenges you see in implementing the vision of the recent Cancer Care plan in Bangladesh?
Treve: Bangladesh still lacks a nationwide awareness campaign for prevention and cancer control. Relevant policies are coming in and we believe participation of the stakeholders would make those policies more effective. Primary screening, diagnostic service and affordability are the key challenges for cancer care plan of Bangladesh. We have fantastic medicines to serve patients and we very much looking forward to the expansion of our portfolio.
Sometimes, longer registration time is a challenge to serve patients faster. Custom duties, regulations with some long processes hamper the access to treatment, which can be solved easily if addressed properly.
In addition, we believe the government has the willingness to help the organisations and make a better environment for everyone.
Q. What do you think about Bangladesh’s health policy? In what ways do you think it can be made stronger in order to help people who are fighting against cancer and rare diseases?
Treve: Bangladesh’s cancer prioritisation is a very important milestone. We are here with knowledge, partners and scientific advancement for the Bangladeshi patients. As the government is keen to serve patients and ensure innovative medicines, we expect the regulatory authority will continue to support us so that we can also serve the patients. We still have to go through a long process to import free goods by which we want to solve the problem of affordability.
We want to contribute to Bangladesh by working together with the government as we have been doing for the last three decades. Bangladesh has a quite open and big generic industry here. For a company like us we have lot of innovative molecule and we want to bring those to Bangladesh.
Q. What are your plans for eight divisional cancer centers?
Treve: We are excited about the cancer centers seeing the future of the cancer care in Bangladesh. We are open to have dialogue with the government on how we can be a partner of this journey.
As we bring solutions for new therapeutic area and research, innovation is the first thing that Rosch will bring to the country.
We can play a big role by collaborating with this journey. For example, inclusion of patients in clinical trials. There are a lot of other areas also where we can collaborate.
If we could know the detail plans of the cancer centers and potential scopes to contribute, we are open to sit for dialogues and collaborate. We can help in finding treatment options, share the know-how that we have and extend support for data management and disease management.
We have similar experiences in other countries also where we established scientific partnership for the physicians for cancer and other diseases. We have also contributed in the field of diagnostics in many countries. We have so many examples but every collaboration is different. As for example, Brazil came to us with clinical trial issues and exchange of information between US Centers. There are extra ordinary opportunities that we can offer for the patients of Bangladesh.
Q. What are your plans for Bangladesh?
Treve: We want to expand in Bangladesh to ensure easy access to our new molecules. This is very critical. Expansion of portfolio that will really make a difference on millions of patients’ lives. Our key goal is to ensure our products and researches reach all the patients irrespective of location. We will make the necessary investments.
Q. What are the future plans and vision of Roche and Roche Bangladesh? What are the good news you have for patients in Bangladesh?
Treve: Roche has fantastic products in the pipeline. We are bringing new solutions for the new therapeutic areas. We are not only bringing products to Bangladesh but also addressing access to treatment. We are also working on the awareness, diagnostics, capacity and financing solutions. We are also introducing different Patient Support Programmes, which will make our products more affordable. We have also launched ‘Aastha’ project where we provide free psychological counselling and other required services to our patients for free.