3 questions to our new board member: Dimitri Gitas General Manager Switzerland – MSD - Interpharma

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6 June 2024

3 questions to our new board member: Dimitri Gitas General Manager Switzerland – MSD

May we ask you to briefly introduce yourself and tell us a little about your current position in your company?

I am originally from Canada and am married with two young kids. I have a degree in biochemistry from the University of Ottawa, and I started my professional career at MSD. Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure to work in Canada, the US, Greece, Poland and I’m privileged to serve as Managing Director of MSD Switzerland for the past year and a half. I have been with the company since 2004 and have held various positions in global, regional and country commercial roles. My journey with MSD has been incredibly fulfilling as I’ve seen first-hand the transformative impact our medicines and vaccines have on patients’ lives.

At MSD Switzerland, I am committed to providing access to our innovative medicines and vaccines to Swiss citizens. As a company we are focused in the therapeutic areas of Oncology, Vaccines as well as other therapeutic areas in Hospital and Specialty care. I lead a very talented team and our mission is clear: to discover, develop and deliver innovative healthcare solutions that address unmet medical needs. My responsibilities include strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, talent development and ensuring operational excellence in all sides of our business. It’s a role that requires agility, vision and a deep commitment to our corporate values of integrity, collaboration and patient-focus.

Promoting diversity and inclusion is also one of my top priorities. Around 50% of women at MSD Switzerland work in management positions. We support the involvement of our employees in various networks, such as the Women’s Network, the Next Generation Network and the LGBTI Network. We are proud to carry the Swiss LGBTI Label, a certification for companies and organizations with an open and inclusive culture.

What do you want to focus on in your role as a board member of Interpharma?

I see my role as an opportunity to contribute to the broader dialogue on healthcare policy, regulation and industry collaboration in Switzerland. As the association representing the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland, Interpharma plays a critical role in advocating for policies that support innovation, patient access and the overall sustainability of the healthcare ecosystem.

I aim to use my experience to shape discussions and initiatives that advance these shared goals. This includes engaging with key stakeholders, policymakers, and other industry leaders to address the challenges and opportunities facing the pharmaceutical sector in Switzerland. Whether it’s advocating for streamlined regulatory pathways for drug development, promoting investment in research and development, or championing initiatives to improve patient access to innovative therapies, my focus remains on driving positive change for the benefit of patients and society.

I’m driven by the need to bring innovation to patients quickly. I want to foster a mindset of collaboration, supporting partnerships and dialogue to accelerate access in all disease areas. One area that I have taken a leadership role within Interpharma is the prevention and early diagnosis taskforce. While Switzerland has a robust healthcare system, we lag in the prioritization, coordination and investment in prevention. One such example includes coordinated efforts to educate and vaccinate patients to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can cause certain types of cancer. Although an HPV immunization program exists in Switzerland, it struggles with lack of visibility into vaccination coverage rates. Consolidating data and tracking program progress is crucial for accurately assessing impact and improving public health outcomes. Prevention is essential in this effort, but without data, its full potential remains untapped. 

The pharmaceutical sector is vital to the Swiss economy and companies must keep their global competitiveness. As digitalization and artificial intelligence reshape healthcare, we must adapt quickly. New market entrants are bringing innovative technologies that require a supportive policy environment. Collaboration is key and will be one of my top priorities on the board.

How important is Switzerland as a pharmaceutical center for your company? Where and how can Switzerland as a pharmaceutical center continue to improve and how should the framework conditions be adapted?

MSD’s success story in Switzerland began in 1963 and is marked by significant milestones that have made us what we are today: one of the leading research-based biopharmaceutical companies. We employ around 1,000 people at five sites in the cantons of Lucerne and Zurich and this year we received the Top Employer Switzerland award for the twelfth year in a row.

At our Zurich site, The Circle, we run the newly opened global innovation and development center. Our main therapeutic areas are oncology, infectious diseases, cardiovascular, immunology and diabetes. We also have a broad portfolio of vaccines for the prevention of disease in children, adolescents and adults. Switzerland plays a big role in MSD’s global clinical research program with more than forty clinical trials per year. And at our Schachen site in the canton Lucerne, we manufacture drug products for global clinical trials and run a forensic laboratory.

We are deeply committed to our investments in Switzerland as it holds a special place in MSD’s global footprint, serving as a key center of excellence for our research, development, manufacturing and commercialization as well as for our finance, market access and distribution activities. Not only does Switzerland provide us with access to world-class talent and infrastructure, but it also serves as a strategic gateway to international markets.

Looking ahead, there are several areas where Switzerland can further strengthen its position as a leading pharmaceutical location. One key area of focus is the regulatory environment, where efforts to streamline processes, reduce administrative burdens and increase transparency can help accelerate the development and approval of innovative therapies. In addition, continued investments in digital health technologies, data analytics, and personalized medicine hold great promise for future advances in healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.

Moreover, Switzerland’s attractiveness as a pharmaceutical hub is based not only on its scientific prowess, but also on its ability to foster collaboration between industry, academia, and government. By fostering ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship, Switzerland can continue to attract investment and talent, ensuring its continued leadership in the global pharmaceutical landscape.

In summary, Switzerland plays a pivotal role in MSD’s global strategy, and we remain fully committed to contributing to its continued success and growth as a premier destination for pharmaceutical innovation and excellence.

Georg Därendinger

Member of the Executive Board / Head of Communication

+41 79 590 98 77

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Interpharma, the association of Switzerland’s research-based pharmaceutical industry, was founded in Basel in 1933.

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