Within the healthcare industry, innovation and scientific discovery involve years-long, multi-billion-dollar initiatives that span markets across the globe. These are not singular efforts, as innumerable inputs and contributors are required to make the kinds of breakthroughs in research and development that lead to groundbreaking healthcare products.
Understanding that no one company can lead the way toward innovative treatments and medicines for some of the world’s most pressing medical conditions, international pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Company has dedicated itself to partnering with governments, regulators, academia, and patient advocacy groups, among others. By doing so, it seeks to not only ensure continuous innovation in R&D, but also that patients can access its life-changing products through reimbursement and other programs.
Lilly’s purpose of uniting caring with discovery to create medicines that make life better for people around the world has propelled it through its nearly 150-year history as a pioneer in pharmaceuticals. The company has brought that spirit of continuous creativity and discovery to its operations in Taiwan, where it has deep roots. Since establishing the Lilly Taiwan office in 1966, the company has greatly increased its investments in Taiwan, and currently, around 60,000 Taiwanese people and their families rely on Lilly’s medicines each year.
For Lilly Taiwan General Manager Hidehito Katsuma, the reasons for the company’s interest in expanding its work in Taiwan are simple. “Taiwan is a market with advanced, high-quality healthcare,” he says. “But with disease progression giving rise to more challenges, there is always room for us to continue working to address Taiwan’s unmet medical needs,” adding that cancer care is chief among the areas where Taiwan’s healthcare could see improvements.
Meeting Taiwan’s healthcare needs requires the input and support of various stakeholders, Katsuma notes, which is why Lilly Taiwan partnered with the island’s National Health Research Institute (NHRI) in May this year on an initiative to accelerate Taiwan’s development of precision medicine. Through participation in the National Biobank Consortium of Taiwan (NBCT) program, the company has cooperated with the NHRI to develop personalized precision medicine treatments, build up the NBCT’s national databank, and reinforce the data it collects with real-world applications.
“Our collaboration with the NHRI was a great demonstration of the power of public-private partnerships,” Katsuma says. “By combining NHRI’s solid clinical research capabilities with Lilly’s record of excellence and innovation in oncology, we are striving to create a better healthcare environment for both patients and healthcare providers in Taiwan.”
In addition, Lilly has devoted significant energy and resources to ensuring that healthcare is equitable and affordable to all through programs such as Lilly 30×30, which seeks to provide access to quality care for 30 million people in resource-limited settings annually by 2030. The company-wide effort is supported by strategic collaborations with external partners, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It also mixes philanthropy and shared value-based approaches to improving health systems, focusing on diseases where Lilly has deep technical expertise, including diabetes, cancer, and, in recent years, COVID-19. Targeting the three key areas of Pipeline, Programs, and Partnership, the company is working to develop high-impact, scalable solutions to issues regarding patient access worldwide.
At the local level, Lilly has launched several patient support programs in Taiwan to make care more affordable and disease awareness education campaigns to shorten the clinical care gap. The company recently held a series of meetings with Taiwan’s health authorities, academics, medical societies, patient groups, and others to discuss solutions to the island’s healthcare environment for patients with diabetes. It also regularly participates in programs such as the Taiwan Young Patient Association’s initiative to foster a cancer patient-friendly workplace, helping more patients return to their normal lives.
Beyond these efforts, Lilly is among the many multinationals that have significantly increased their investments in Taiwan in recent years. The company cites Taiwan as one of its 25 core markets for clinical trials, thanks to its strengths in efficiently recruiting suitable participants. In 2021, Lilly Taiwan invested approximately NT$400 million in more than 40 clinical trials in areas including oncology, diabetes, and biomedicine. And this year, the company’s investment in Taiwan-based clinical trials has risen to at least NT$700 million, covering 36 trials.
“Our purpose in expanding and enhancing clinical trials in Taiwan is to accelerate access to medicine by accumulating more data to assist in the regulatory approval process and increasing knowledge of diseases among healthcare providers,” says Katsuma. “Through this investment, we are able to provide Taiwan patients with more treatment options should they need them.”