Member Spotlight - September 26, 2022
EUCOPE Member Spotlight: Q&A with AOP Health
Every month, EUCOPE spotlights a member company and the great work they’re doing to advance the life sciences industry and drive innovation to serve patients better. In September, we spoke with Johanna Grames, Senior Manager, International Government Affairs & Health Economics, AOP Health.
Johanna Grames is Senior Manager for International Governmental Affairs and Health Economics at AOP Orphan Pharmaceuticals GmbH, Member of the AOP Health Group. Prior to this, she was heading Corporate Affairs at AOP Health and contributing to the business development team. Based on her research background in mathematical economics she is still responsible for economic assessments in the company. Johanna holds a PhD from Vienna University of Technology and has lead interdisciplinary research projects at the University of Waterloo/ Canada and Tilburg University/ Netherlands.
Tell us about your organisation and its mission and how you drive innovation internally?
From its inception, AOP Health’s culture has been shaped by the entrepreneurial spirit of its founder. From its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, AOP Health, with over 20 subsidiaries and representative offices, now operates in all European countries as well as in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Israel with more than 450 dedicated and agile specialists as well as partners worldwide. We are proud to be a company that encourages employees to come up with new ideas and to show ownership and initiative every day. Focusing on the needs of patients with rare diseases and in critical care is our key motivator. Through close interaction with the scientific community, caregivers and partners we aim to provide integrated therapies and support patients beyond just providing drugs.
How do your organisation’s activities help patients now and into the future?
Thanks to more than 25 years of experience in the development of complex and individualized treatments, AOP Health gained special expertise and market presence in the field of rare diseases and in critical care.
Since its very start, AOP Health has taken on the responsibility of further improving the quality of life of patients with severe, rare, life-threatening diseases as well as patients in critical conditions. Our mission is to transform the patient´s experience and we strongly believe that conducting extensive research and developing and providing solutions for patients is the best way to fulfil this mission. When it comes to wanting the best for the patients, we stand side-by-side with each other as a team, with researchers, physicians, therapists, caregivers and patient organizations.
AOP Health is particularly proud of one of its greatest assets: the intensive exchange with key specialists in all markets allowing us to help patients with rare diseases or in critical care from Austria throughout the world.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life science industry today?
Patients deserve the best available therapies in the most efficient way – and healthcare systems should facilitate this. Even if the life science industry follows a patient-centred approach, most healthcare systems are not ready to act efficiently. This holds true for at least two areas:
First, countries (and often even regions) have their own budgets and, thus, their own instruments, pricing, and reimbursement.
Second, we believe, therapies should be developed in an integrated way: Developing not only the drug, but also related devices, specialised care, and digital applications. To do that efficiently, authorities and payers also need to be able to capture and respond to this extended environment.
Let’s look at an example: AOP Health is developing a drug together with a device and is also providing support to patients through special care professionals. During development, requirements from the general pharmaceutical legislation and the medical device regulation apply in parallel, and both EMA and notified bodies need to be consulted for approval. After approval, there are different rules for reimbursement of the drug and the device, not even talking about care at this point.
It would be great to put the patient in the centre and allow for one integrated healthcare system by being partners during development and providing fair and efficient reimbursement for the full therapy.
What are the major health policy issues and themes that you are most focused on in 2022?
First, we are still in the process of providing access to innovative therapies all over Europe. Especially in this context, we are advocating that the prescription of medicines off-label should be limited to situations where no authorised forms of treatment are available or have failed, and should not be misused for price comparisons. All players in the healthcare sector as well as the governments of the Member States should strictly follow the legislation in place to safeguard a high level of public health. Physicians’ duty of professional conduct towards their patients is not jeopardised by legislation or administrative practices imposed on them for the sole purpose of cost containment.
Second, we truly believe that the life science and pharmaceutical industries are substantial for Europe’s innovation and well-being. Thus, we constantly strive to create a positive image for our work and its impact on society and public health. Following examples like EUCOPE we will produce our own podcast series to inform the broader public and actively communicate our approach to certain topics and important milestones to various stakeholders.
What attracted you to join EUCOPE and how can we help you achieve your business goals?
We met representatives of EUCOPE at the European Health Forum Gastein. Their comments on European developments in rare diseases really described what we experienced and are passionate about. And apparently, they felt the same after another session, where our company’s representative stated his perspectives.
This was definitely a promising start and we are happy to be represented by EUCOPE, especially in times when so many regulations are under review. This really helps us to keep an eye on European developments and to give a voice to companies that are mid-sized (for now) and follow their passion to serve patients more than shareholder-driven profits.