Speeches & Presentations

Closing Remarks
PhRMA Annual Meeting

John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D.

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer — Eli Lilly and Company

April 11, 2013

San Diego, California

Good morning, everyone. It is my honor and my privilege as Chairman of PhRMA to welcome you this, our annual meeting. Our PhRMA staff has done a tremendous job in the conception, the design, and I think you will say the execution of this event. It is a massive, annual undertaking but they pulled it off once again and I am really looking forward to all that is in store for all of us over the next two days.

I would like to thank Riz Khan for a terrific job of moderating throughout our meeting.

And I want to express a special thanks to our panelists today and all the patient advocates who have been with us throughout this meeting and who remind us every day who it is that really matters.

April 12th is a fitting day to close our meeting. As I mentioned in my remarks a year ago, it was on this day in 1955 that Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine was approved.

Talk about translating science into hope!

From 1940 to the mid-1950s, a time when some of us in this room were alive, polio struck 400,000 American children and millions more worldwide. But thanks to Dr. Salk's work, just two years later, new polio cases in the U.S. had been cut by 90 percent. And by 1960, the disease was almost entirely eradicated in this country.

Interestingly, in Bill Gates' most recent annual letter on behalf of the Gates Foundation, Bill recounts his and others' efforts to completely eradicate polio from the planet. We are very, very close.

We have devoted this annual meeting to patients and to what it will take for our industry to continue to help patients stay healthy, overcome disease, and live longer, more productive lives. A single page in last Thursday's Wall Street Journal underscores the profound hope of biopharmaceutical innovation and the urgent need for continued progress.

Page A5 had two headlines. The first said "Scientists Close in on a Blueprint for AIDS Vaccine." The article is about a study in the journal Nature that describes how after years of work researches have begun mapping powerful antibodies that fight off the AIDS virus, which could open a window on developing an effective vaccine.

What amazing progress against the disease that only a short time ago was a death sentence! Since 1975, thanks to the efforts of the companies we represent, we have been able to reduce mortality from AIDS by nearly 80 percent. Yet, in 2011, 34 million people were living with HIV. So the need is great but, once again, hope may be on the way!

The second headline on the same page last week read, "Dementia's Costs Pile Up."

The article reported on a new RAND study that says dementia now costs the U.S. up to $215 billion a year in medical care and other costs. The article profiles a woman who was a caregiver to her late father who had Alzheimer's and her mother who now has mild memory problems as well. She is quoted as saying, "…the financial impact of dementia is wiping out families."

Folks, our discussions here at this meeting are more than academic.

The challenges of providing quality healthcare to the growing number of seniors and others in developed questions and providing access to quality medicines for developing countries are among the greatest of our time. That is why what we do, the medicines we discover and develop, and the solutions we create through partnerships has never been more urgently needed.

Let's face it,

  • The treatments for those diseases that remain unconquered, like cancer and Alzheimer's disease, will most likely come from laboratories like ours.
  • And even when you consider the diseases we do treat today, whether diabetes or heart disease or asthma, there is huge room for improvement and we are working on that, too.
  • As I said at the beginning of this meeting, and as we have underscored in many sessions here, innovative medicines have proven themselves time and again to be among the most effect ways to reduce costs and improve quality in healthcare.

When you take into account both the health and economic benefits of innovative medicines, you are hard-pressed to find their equals. To continue to make further progress, we must sustain medical innovation!

We are the only ones who can do this.

The good news is that advances in the life sciences are bringing treatments, once beyond our reach, finally into view. Today, the biopharmaceutical industry has, in some stage of clinical development:

  •  Nearly 900 potential medicines for cancer;
  •  More than 200 potential medicines for cardiovascular disorders, and nearly 200 for diabetes;
  •  80 potential medicines for HIV/AIDS; and
  • About 300 for rare diseases.

As someone trained as a scientist, I believe that the juxtaposition of new insights in the human biology, coupled with the application of new tools and advanced technologies has the potential to revolutionize our business more in the next 10 years than in the past 50!

That is why, for all our successes over the past year, sustaining this innovation ecosystem, we cannot afford to slow our advocacy for the four pillars that John talked about yesterday that support a thriving, innovative industry. We cannot afford to slow our efforts to get our message out and persuade others of the value, the urgency, the nobility of what we do as Bob Hugin talked about this morning.

The opportunity to innovate, to save lives, to help families is in our hands. The work we do to make the case for innovation and to promote a policy environment where innovation can thrive is an integral part of our mission to bring the benefits of new and better medicines to patients around the world.

Colleagues, I would like to close out my tenure as your chairman just as I began it, by recalling the story I told last year of a young woman from Lilly's ImClone Laboratories in New Jersey, who had just been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. She told her colleagues not to worry about her for a minute….but that she did have one request, and many of you remember this. She said, I want you to do your jobs. She also said she would be walking through the doors of ImClone again.

And I am delighted to tell you that she has, indeed, walked through those doors again and is back at work. In fact, I met with her in my office earlier this week and it is because of all of you and thousands of others, that continue to do you jobs that there are more hopeful stories like this each and every day.

It has been a real honor to represent this great organization, to represent PhRMA - and so many heroes - over this past year. Together, we will continue to champion medical innovation and the collective efforts that are improving health for millions of people around the world and help ensure that all the companies and organizations represented here today can carry on the heroic work of healing and saving lives well into the future.

Thank you very much.

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