Sep 02, 2020

Pfizer Country Manager: Danish Life Science Can Lead the Way Out of the Crisis

The Danish life science industry has enormous potential to attract further foreign investments. The Corona pandemic presents a perfect opportunity to make the necessary adjustments that will help unleash the industry’s full potential.

By Lars Møller, Country Manager, Pfizer Denmark – a subsidiary of the U.S. based Pfizer Inc.

In 2019, the Danish life science industry exported nearly DKK 130 bn worth of goods, adding up to., almost 17 percent of the total Danish export of goods. Thus, it is safe to say that life science is a vital contributor to the Danish economy. At the same time, life science is also an industry that is relatively resistant to cyclical fluctuations, and an impressive 27 % growth period from 2018 to 2019 makes it evidentthat Danish life science is a crucial weapon in the battle against the economic downturn that may  come on the heels of the Corona crisis.

There are two notable ways that life science can contribute to a recovery of the Danish economy; Through exports and by attracting investments from abroad that bring jobs, growth and innovation along with them.

As a Danish subsidiary of a large American cooperation, we are particularly interested in the latter, and we are continually focused on how we can make it even more attractive for companies such as Pfizer Inc. to invest in Denmark, e.g. by placing large-scale clinical trials of new medicinal products here.

Unleash the Danish Data Potential
When a pharmaceutical company initiates clinical trials, it typically entails a years-long project involving thousands of trial participants. As a Danish subsidiary, there is nothing we would rather do than to draw Pfizer’s clinical studies to Denmark – in fact, we are working to do so every single day.

Luckily, there is a strong case for undertaking clinical trials in Denmark. Another Danish subsidiary – Novartis – recently initiated a clinical trial of a drug against COVID-19 here in Denmark. Novartis’ Regional Director Peter Drøidal explained to MedWatch that the Danish approval process for clinical trials is unusually fast right now. Moreover, Denmark has skilled doctors and scientists as well as a robust public-private collaboration in Trial Nation – a single, national entry point for stakeholders of clinical trials.

We agree with Drøidal’s overall points in the MedWatch-story, but we want to add one crucial area that will help Danish life science unleash its full potential: Better access to – and use of Danish health data.

The quality of the Danish health data is widely acknowledged because of its scale and longitude, its quality and because it is possible to look at data across different registries. The data could be a gold mine of public health knowledge that can improve the treatment of patients across the world. However, in real life companies are struggling to get access to the data.

Renewed Political Focus
Fortunately, politicians are aware of the issue, and we are hopeful that better use of Danish health care data will be part of the upcoming life science strategy 2.0 [FL1] Radikale Venstre’s science spokesperson, Stinus Lindgreen, has told MedWatch that strengthening access to public health data and public-private partnerships should also be taken into consideration. Now is the time to focus on the solutions, says Lindgreen. We can only support this view.

The Danish life science industry is already an enormous growth driver, but it has the potential to grow even stronger and become more attractive for foreign investments from companies such as ours if we create better access to- and use of our unique data; Obviously supplemented with strong data security and updated data laws.

I hope that the corona crisis will become the catalyst that ensures that good intentions  are translated into action when it comes to access to health data, and that we find a solution allowing companies get better access in a responsible manner.  This is critical for Denmark to be prepared and able to realize its full potential.

This article was originally published by Kongressen.com in Danish and has been translated by AmCham Denmark.