AstraZeneca Improves Healthcare Through Collaboration and Community

As an international biomedical and pharmaceutical leader, AstraZeneca’s impact on the global healthcare landscape is undeniable. The company’s pioneering efforts have been instrumental in safeguarding millions worldwide from severe illness and death. 

But exceeding expectations is something that is embedded in the company’s culture, explains Vita Chien, general manager of AstraZeneca Taiwan since November 2023. “We recognize that every team member brings their own strengths to the role, and we encourage people to work as a team to unleash everyone’s individual potential,” she says.  

Working across different markets and cultures, the company has done a lot to encourage movement and growth amongst its employees. Chien is the first female leader to have risen solely through the ranks of AstraZeneca Taiwan to lead the company’s office here.  

“I truly appreciate the importance AstraZeneca places on talent development,” she says. “I’ve benefitted from the company’s dedication to its talent myself over the past 15 years working in Taiwan, Singapore, and at our headquarters in Cambridge,” she says. 

Chien notes that the company focuses on five main areas: 1) cardiovascular, renal, and metabolism; 2) oncology; 3) respiratory and immunology; 4) rare diseases; and 5) vaccines and immune therapies. Working alongside hospitals, research institutions, patient groups, government, and other stakeholders such as startup companies in healthcare, AstraZeneca finds the Taiwan market to be a good testbed for its innovations.  

“The environment in Taiwan is genuinely collaborative,” says Chien. “It was important for me personally to ensure that patients in Taiwan can access the newest innovations and that Taiwan is the important global clinical trial site.” For its part, AstraZeneca is undertaking 214 clinical trials in Taiwan across many of its focus areas, the highest across pharmaceutical industries.   

The company’s presence in Taiwan – which goes back 75 years ago, when it arrived with the mission of eradicating malaria – has grown to now including over 500 staff as it bring more and more innovative drugs to Taiwan.  

“We don’t only limit ourselves in disease treatment but also the entire disease management, from education, prevention, early screening, disease treatment, and long-term wellbeing management,” Chien says. She points to a recent collaborative project with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) named Future Healthcare Laboratory 2.0, which aims to drive innovation and offer digital healthcare solutions to help fight chronic kidney disease.   

This issue is especially relevant in Taiwan, which has 12% of people on chronic kidney disease, trailing only Japan and United States. With more than 2 million individuals affected, the scale of this challenge is significant.  

 “Being a responsible pharmaceutical company isn’t just about selling drugs, it’s about caring for patients along the entire patient journey.” To that end, the company is a partner of the Lung Ambition Alliance together with Guardant Health and the Global Lung Cancer Coalition, and last year worked with the wider healthcare industry, AmCham Taiwan and the American Institute in Taiwan to deliver the 2023 Cancer Summit Healthcare Innovation Forum – on the theme“An International Collaboration: End Cancer as We Know It.” 

Recognizing its substantial impact on people and the planet, the company is also mindful of its environmental footprint. The fleet of hybrid cars provided to its 285 sales will be upgraded to fully electric models to help meet AstraZeneca’s net-zero carbon emissions target by 2030. The newly renovated head office in Taipei’s leafy Daan district relies on natural lighting from large windows and utilizes recycled materials throughout.   

Chien, who also co-chairs AmCham Taiwan’s Pharmaceutical Committee, adds that AstraZeneca also has a role to play in championing innovation in the industry.  

“Platforms like AmCham allow interactions beyond local Taiwan operations,” she says. “That is the value of working alongside our industry peers – ensuring that Taiwan innovative healthcare ecosystem stay globally competitive.”