The Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world by revenue and the leading provider of cancer treatments globally, has diversified activities in Hungary: the pharmaceutical, diagnostics and diabetes divisions and the Roche Service&Solution Center employ over 2,000 people altogether.
General Manager Raffaella Claudia Bondi, who has been at the helm at Roche Hungary for almost two years now, highlights to Diplomacy&Trade that this period has been a time of important learnings for her and for the organization. “Together, we have faced significant challenges, such as new waves of the coronavirus epidemic, the outbreak of the war in Ukraine or the economic crisis, which all contributed to an unprecedented level of unpredictability in the market.”
She adds that their focus has been – and will always be – patient outcomes. “We are very proud of having been able to ensure business continuity, which, in our case, means making it possible for healthcare professionals and patients to continue having access to the treatments they need and enabling the Roche employees to work in a safe and supporting environment.”
Personalized and sustainable healthcare
At Roche, the uptake of personalized therapies is essential for value-based and sustainable healthcare. As the General Manager puts it, personalized healthcare means being able to identify the most appropriate treatment for a specific patient and deliver it in a timely manner. “It’s not only about the innovation that we pursue both in terms of advanced diagnostics and treatment solutions, but it’s also about addressing the barriers which might locally prevent patients from benefiting from those innovations. To achieve such an ambitious goal, we believe in public private partnerships and multi-stakeholder collaborations.”
That is why, in Hungary, Roche established a Personalized Health Care Advisory Board where key players of the health sector define specific goals and inspire action plans to bring to life Personalized Healthcare in this country. The common aim is to enable rapid and data driven decisions, which allow the identification of the most appropriate treatment regimen for each patient.
Directions of research
Roche is the highest research and development (R&D) spender in the industry. Its research is focused on developing innovations which can transform patients’ outcomes across a variety of diseases, from oncology to neuroscience, including severe rare diseases and hematology malignancies.
An example mentioned by Raffaella Bondi is the progress achieved in oncology: “in the 1970s, if you had breast cancer you had only 48% chance to live ten more years. Now it is 78%! Data show that for an increasing number of patients, cancer can be cured or life can be significantly extended while maintaining good quality living. Roche solutions have significantly contributed to this progress.”
Another area of high unmet need Roche efforts are directed at (and where the company has already achieved important results) is ophthalmology. One of the main causes for blindness is connected to diabetes, which is an increasingly widespread disease. WHO estimates that the global prevalence of diabetes will grow from 177 million (in 2000) to 300 million by 2025. Diabetes can cause the loss of one’s sight, thousands are suffering from that. She stresses that “in 2010, the direct costs of vision loss worldwide were USD 2.3 trillion. Can you imagine how big a change it would be to change these numbers with simple and effective treatments?”
Digital patient pathway management
It has been more than a year and half that Roche – as part of a strategic partnership agreement with the Hungarian government – donated to the Hungarian healthcare system a digital patient pathway management application (BetMen).
“We have made good progress over this period, increasing the number of institutions and disease areas with direct experience with the tool – ophthalmology, diabetes, lung diseases and stroke aftercare. We are constantly collecting inputs for further development and the creation of new functions. The learnings generated in one area will help to make the implementation even more effective and wider,” the General Manager notes.
This is completely in line with the current strategic directions of the sector, integrated care, integrated patient pathways and close collaboration on different levels of healthcare. The collaboration between Roche and the government continues and is focused on integrating the system in the EESZT (the National eHealth Infrastructure, the official application for the production and query of health documents in Hungary) in order to make it available to all citizens.
Focus on society, environment and economy
Sustainability seems to be a key word at Roche. In fact, as Raffaella Bondi points out, sustainability, in its broader sense, inspires everything they do. “Our three focus areas are society, environment and economy. We are committed to adding value to the country's economy constantly. In 2022, we created 746 new jobs and we reinvested two-thirds of our annual revenue in Hungary. We do not have manufacturing activities here in this country, but we focus on how to make our logistics low scale in terms of emission.”
She adds that on a society level, they are committed to great working conditions, support for education and healthcare, with many initiatives directed at their large number of employees.
The importance of prevention and screening
One of the accentuated goals for Roche, as a systemic partner in healthcare, is to create even more added value for society. As to how Hungarian society will able to experience the tangible results of these efforts, the General Manager emphasizes that in 2022, they decided that they want to raise awareness about one of their most important topics, which is Women’s Health. “As mentioned before, cancer care has been changing a lot and becoming much more curable, still 2,200 women die of breast cancer and 500 die of cervical cancer in Hungary yearly. Many deaths would have been preventable with constant screening. Roche in Hungary is providing an extra day off for all of its 2,300 employees who are going for annual breast and HPV screening as a reward for their self-care. We encourage other companies to join us and do the same for their colleagues!”
Besides, Roche Hungary has just finished a social media campaign where they reached four million Hungarians, conveying to them the important message of prevention and screening. “I believe that we can influence each other in the right direction, so, I ask all of you here to go for screening and tell the same to your loved ones,” Raffaella Bondi concludes.
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