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Courage is key to R&D leadership

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    What skills set will be needed to lead drug development in the current and future healthcare environment?

    This question was addressed during a panel discussion at an R&D Leadership Summit. The topic is an interesting one because among the expected key traits of keen intellect, curiosity, attention to detail, and passion for identifying new ways to help patients, is a real need for individuals with courage.

    Courage is critical for drug development because as important as it is to recognise drugs that may make a real difference to people living with severe diseases, it is just as imperative to recognise a drug that will not offer those same patients real, transformational value.

    It takes true mettle to watch excitedly as a drug moves through the pipeline but suddenly shows that it may not be a real differentiator and make the call to step away.

    Courage is critical because making the decision to no longer advance a molecule that was once at the forefront is not an easy one. And swaying others to do the same takes even more strength of will and a resolution to hold patients at the center. Keen judgment, based on a diversity of experience, reinforces the strength needed to take a stand and make a meaningful difference for patients.

    We owe it to patients and the medical community to recognise when a drug will not present transformational value and to make the decision to focus our efforts elsewhere. Patients are at the core of what we do – and patient value is what needs to drive the agenda of drug development.

    The development cycle is a truth-seeking process. Does this drug work? How well? Will it make a transformational difference to patients? Which patients?

    These questions are not always easy to answer, nor is the answer always what you want it to be. That is why we are looking for courage – courage to ask the questions, make the call, and to do it with patients at the core.

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