Statement 4 November 2014

Dr John C. Lechleiter, farewell remarks: chairman, president, and chief executive officer Eli Lilly


Dr John C. Lechleiter

Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Eli Lilly and Company and IFPMA President

Farewell Remarks

Global health conference “Investing for Healthier Societies: Innovation, Inclusiveness and Sustainability” that the IFPMA is hosting in partnership with Devex (4 November 2014, New York) (

Thank you, Eduardo, and good afternoon, everyone.

It’s a pleasure to be here and to have this opportunity to extend my thanks to all of you for the honor of serving as president of IFPMA these past two years.

I want to congratulate Stefan Oschmann, of Merck Serono, as he assumes his new responsibilities as IFPMA president. Let me also acknowledge Masafumi Nogimori of Astellas for his continued service as a vice president, as well as our new vice president, Bob Hugin of Celgene. And I want to thank all the Council members for their willingness to take time in leading the organization to advance the causes of global health, increase access to new therapies, and improve the regulatory and compliance environment for innovative medicines.

Finally, let me express my sincere gratitude to Eduardo Pisani for his leadership as director general of IFPMA, along with the staffs of IFPMA and the member companies and associations, who have done all the essential work to support our common efforts.

When I assumed this position two years ago, I outlined three imperatives for all of us – the IFPMA, our member companies, our trade associations, and so many others who understand the critical importance of our work. They were, and are:

  • First, to stand up for policies that support and encourage innovation;
  • Second, to continue to work for solutions through collaborations that offer the most effective approach to solving complex global health problems; and
  • Third, as the basis for all our efforts, to continue to build trust with all our stakeholders.

Today, as I step down, I’d like to discuss briefly each of these areas.

With my remarks focused on innovation and partnership, I am delighted to be here in New York City, and in particular, at the Alexandria Center. New York is renowned as a global center of innovation, particularly in biopharmaceuticals. And the Alexandria Center is the premier life sciences research hub in New York, a microcosm of the intense collaboration that takes place day after day among scientists from our industry and New York’s great research hospitals and universities.

With that, let me review each of the imperatives I outlined:

First, we need to support policies to sustain R&D of the new medicines that are essential for health care progress.

There is no better demonstration of the value of, and the need for, innovative medicines than the global effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals focused on health. With the target date of 2015 just ahead of us, we can point to significant progress, for example, toward the goal of reducing child mortality. The under-five mortality rate has been halved since 1990 and is falling faster than at any other time during the past two decades.

More generally, the commitment to achieving the MDGs has saved many millions of lives. Innovative medicines have contributed to these gains, and our industry is hard at work on the next generation of therapies to address urgent unmet needs around the world. There are more than 4100 potential medicines in the pipeline for noncommunicable diseases … a scourge of premature death and disability that not only takes lives but also spreads poverty and stifles development. Our industry is also advancing more than 300 preventive and therapeutic vaccine candidates that can potentially add to the three million lives saved each and every year through immunization.

The global commitment to the MDGs has created a valuable legacy of lessons learned, best practices, and innovative instruments for securing funds, purchasing life-saving interventions, and developing new therapies for diseases of the poor. Continued progress against disease … with its devastating impact not only on the development of the world’s poorest economies but also on the individuals and families who live there … will depend on continued efforts to discover and develop new medicines. IFPMA and our partners must continue to make the case for policies that make it possible for us to make the necessary investments in this life-saving research.

The second imperative is a continued focus on collaboration to solve complex global health problems.

Innovation is a complex and often very difficult process that involves engaging talented people towards a shared objective. In our industry, that process involves a vast network of research … exemplified by the collaborative work that goes on in this building … to discover and develop new medicines that bring benefit to people across the globe.

But at the end of the day, , “research isn’t finished until everyone can use the results.” And that means understanding the broader network of collaboration in which we operate today.

The IFPMA has played a key role in facilitating collaboration between industry and a wide range of partners to bring the benefits of medical innovation to the people who need it most … recognizing that industry has a crucial role to play, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. In recent years the IFPMA has helped to set in motion a number of innovative collaborations.

One example is the 4HealthyHabits partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Through a worldwide web of IFRC volunteers that connect with communities on a daily basis, we have the potential to reach 3 million people with relevant information that helps them adopt healthier lifestyles. This initiative has real potential to complement our efforts to treat noncommunicable diseases … estimated to contribute to 36 million deaths each year … as healthy behaviors can prevent up to half of all NCD cases.

Another partnership with the International Telecommunication Union and the World Health Organization leverages the pharmaceutical industry’s expertise using mobile technologies to expand outreach. Still another enables us to share information on compounds that may help researchers around the world develop new medicines to fight Neglected Tropical Diseases.

To underscore the importance of partnership, the IFPMA have also just launched a new version of the IFPMA Developing World Health Partnership Directory. I believe that this is the most comprehensive international database for health development programs of this nature and includes more than 250 partnerships with more than 20 pharmaceutical companies and 1000 partners. It demonstrates a clear commitment from our industry to global health and tells the stories of people working every day to implement programs on the ground and patients whose lives have been saved or improved.

The third imperative is essential to achieving the first two. If we are to build support for policies that foster innovation, and to attract partners in the work of medical innovation, we must continue to build trust with all our stakeholders.

Stakeholders need to learn to work together, putting differences aside, overcoming barriers and building trust. This underlines the importance of coming together today.

An example of the innovative ways we can build trust is the Consensus Framework for Ethical Collaboration. Five global healthcare organizations representing patients, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and the pharmaceutical industry agreed to support ethical research and innovation, ensuring independence and ethical conduct, and promoting transparency and accountability. This pioneering initiative was launched at the World Health Assembly this year, and demonstrated the common goal of putting patients first.

Another important collaboration to build trust in our medicines is the “Fight the Fakes” campaign … an innovative partnership which currently includes 25 partners … representing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, patient organizations, international financial organizations, leading foundations and the private sector … to raise awareness of the dangers of fake medicines.

With fakes accounting for up to 30 percent of all malaria medicines in Africa, the threat to patients is very real. They put patients at risk of further illness, disability or even death; and they can also undermine a patient’s confidence in the medicines they are prescribed, as well as the credibility of health care providers.

Fight the Fakes has received praise and recognition from around the world for the way it highlights the real threat to patients, and it demonstrates how we can tackle big problems together.

As I have discussed, great strides in global health have been achieved through innovation … not only in the form of new medicines and vaccines but also in the ways we conduct research, deliver health care, apply technology, and train health care professionals.

The Ebola epidemic is a poignant reminder of the need to sustain innovation to address the many unmet – and unanticipated – health needs around the world. In particular, we must encourage innovation for neglected diseases. This should remain firmly on our collective agenda.

IFPMA and its members are deeply concerned by the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa and its consequences on the people and the health systems of the affected countries. Our industry welcomes the leadership of the WHO in providing strategic guidance to counter the Ebola outbreak and stands ready to contribute with knowledge and expertise

In early September, Ebola scientists and representatives from companies and regulatory bodies met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, to discuss how to speed up clinical development of vaccines … which are believed have an important role to play in stopping the catastrophic outbreak in West Africa. I am hopeful that the fast-tracking of select compounds, with researchers and regulators accomplishing in just three months what would normally take a year and a half, will produce some medical solutions soon and help put a stop to this frightening disease.

We’re at a crossroads for global health. 2015 will be an important year to set the stage for the vision we should work towards for the next 15 years. We need to make a difference now if future generations are to benefit from the fruits of innovation – in the widest sense of the word. We need to make sure we set the right targets and goals to meet the shared aspiration for a healthier society for all, wherever they live.

For all the progress we have made, we are acutely aware that despite millions of people moving towards healthier lives with greater access to education, health services, electricity, and cell phones, more than 1 billion people remain stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty and disease. Access to clean water and safe nutritious food … essential for a healthy society … remains a fundamental challenge.

We are confronted with a situation that has never existed before: many countries have a low income combined with modern or semi-modern disease burden. The need is urgent, and our industry is learning to work together more effectively and efficiently with health care providers, governments, and civil society to support prevention, management and treatment of these diseases.

Health must therefore feature prominently in the new Sustainable Development Goals. It is crucial to maintain focus and commitment – ensuring that we continue to build upon the success that we have achieved together on global health. The IFPMA and its members are fully committed to being a partner in this effort. In Africa they having a saying, alone we may go fast but together we go far.

It has been a great honor and privilege to represent a group of people who devote their lives to alleviating suffering, inspiring hope, and providing additional years of precious life to millions of people around the world.

Thank you for your untiring efforts as IFPMA remains a valued strategic partner in our collective efforts to improve global health.

Thank you.

Check against delivery


The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) represents over 90 innovative pharmaceutical companies and associations around the world. Our industry’s almost three million employees discover, develop, and deliver medicines and vaccines that advance global health. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations and contributes industry expertise to help the global health community improve the lives of people everywhere. For more information, visit

Learn more

Media Contact

Elliot Dunster