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Pennsylvania Bio Leadership Panel Program: Fall CEO Roundtable

On September 18th, 2013, Clarkston co-sponsored and attended Pennsylvania Bio’s Leadership Panel Program’s Fall CEO Roundtable, which brought together executives, researchers, lawyers, and consultancies from the life sciences industry to discuss common challenges and avenues for success. The panel consisted of prominent industry CEOs in the greater Pennsylvania area, including Adrian Adams of Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Sean McDonald of Precision Therapeutics, and Neal Walker of Aclaris Therapeutics.

The panel discussions centered on the need for companies in the life sciences industry to work together, regardless of size and location, to overcome challenges that we collectively face. Three primary questions surfaced during the event:

 1) How can we create a healthy balance between research and production, while also maintaining innovation?

One attendee shared his observation that smaller companies tend to start their businesses by investing heavily in research; however, once companies reach 500 employees or more, they begin to focus more on production – and the research department shrinks. As bio companies increase in scale, it is important that they continue to set research goals and collaborate with organizations & research associations that share similar interests.

2) How does early funding influence a company’s culture?

The panel agreed that initial investors should be taken very seriously, and companies should work with them on their offer, and discuss their expectations.  As companies grow and mature, however, they need to be cognizant of potential investors’ motivations and the corresponding business implications. To put it frankly, the panel agreed that companies should “be careful who they get in bed with.” Investors at any stage can not only affect company growth, but how the culture evolves over time.

3) How can industry leaders come together and mitigate healthcare policy challenges?

Changing healthcare policies are forcing a greater number of touch points in the supply chain before products finally arrive at the end consumer. In addition, patients are visiting multiple doctors, more frequently for their treatments; healthcare centers are no longer a “one-stop-shop.” With this in mind, we need to be more conscious of the regulatory implications at every step in the supply chain, and work towards getting products out of the door, and into the hands of the people that need them, quickly and efficiently.

The life sciences industry provides services and products that may ultimately change lives. The resounding consensus from the panel, and from those who attended, is that we need to work together to achieve industry solutions, which will optimize our research and improve our end results.