In the 60 years since Pfizer set up its first factory in Taiwan, the company has relentlessly pursued life-changing pharmaceutical and biotechnological breakthroughs. The company’s most important accomplishment in Taiwan, however, is its contribution to improving patients’ quality of life through the introduction to the market of the most advanced, innovative drugs, notes Country Manager Cellina Yeh.
“When we introduce a product to Taiwan, we often start with the clinical trial stage,” she says. “We have about 45 clinical trials underway every year in Taiwan, which shows our commitment to society here. It’s also a testimony to Taiwan’s credibility – our headquarters has faith in Taiwan’s physicians and its healthcare system.”
Despite already serving four million Taiwanese patients with over 130 products spanning oncology, cardiovascular, inflammatory, vaccines, and anti-infective treatments, Pfizer is pushing itself to accelerate results. The company is undergoing a continuous transformation, aiming to continue achieving “breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.” By expanding its portfolio and focusing on prevention, patient education, and precision medicine, Pfizer wants to help transform Taiwan into a hub of medical innovation.
“When your portfolio changes, your mindset needs to change,” says Yeh. “If we want to be an innovation hub, we need to be bold, and we need to prove and articulate our vision, our capabilities, and our readiness to bring resources into Taiwan. We want to create a more courageous organizational culture and a workplace that moves at the speed of light.”
Pfizer’s ability to swiftly make advances in innovation was validated when the company received an emergency use authorization (EUA) to introduce its antiviral COVID-19 oral drug to the U.S. market last December. Having already established continuous and productive communication with the government, Pfizer was able to receive EUA approval in Taiwan a mere 25 days after the company achieved U.S. FDA approval for the drug.
“We worked around the clock, coordinating within the market and with the regional office and headquarters,” says Yeh, adding that the increased spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan in January meant that time was of the essence. “I can rely on every single one of my colleagues to do whatever they can to carry out our mission. We challenge each other to do more, to strive never to leave patients waiting.”
To produce more innovative drugs and treatments, Pfizer has implemented a collaboration and acquisition strategy that enables it to expand its knowledge and competencies. For example, last year it joined the National Health Research Institutes’ Precision Medicine Research Collaboration to generate impact for more patients. At the end of 2021, Pfizer also signed an agreement with Taichung Veterans General Hospital to create a gene therapy center of excellence for rare diseases.
Putting people first
The future of healthcare, notes Yeh, involves extensive patient education and advocacy. To support this, Pfizer, in collaboration with a medical society, developed an algorithm that provides patients with treatment options for their specific situation based on extensive data from doctor protocols.
“The entire medical ecosystem is now talking about shared decision-making,” says Yeh. “We want to create an environment where treatment stems from a mutually made decision regarding the best option for the patient. Such tools will help patients choose the most suitable treatment option.”
Pfizer’s penchant for lifesaving innovation starts with its people, which is why the company invests heavily in its employees. Yeh notes a generational shift in Taiwan from the traditionally relationship-based business culture with an emphasis on face-to-face meetings to digital preferences that focus on efficiency. To accommodate this, Yeh says the company is “transforming ourselves in how we engage with physicians, conduct meetings, and ask for and produce in-depth scientific data” by adopting technology that seamlessly integrates digital and physical healthcare.
Another key aspect of promoting innovation is creating a diverse and joyful workplace. Pfizer’s Taiwan office strategically provides employees with international opportunities to broaden their mindsets and fosters a culture of idea-sharing and debate. As a result of its efforts, the company has won multiple awards for best and happiest workplace both locally and regionally.
“To foster innovation, you need to include a diverse range of backgrounds and allow people with different opinions to feel included in the conversation,” says Yeh. “When everyone dares to speak up, innovation happens.”