Since its founding in 1978, Biogen’s goal has been to defeat devastating neurological diseases. What has been achieved since then?
We have made great progress, but there is still so far to go. For more than 40 years, Biogen has been tackling some of the most complex and challenging conditions: Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Alzheimer’s disease and more. As pioneers in neuroscience, we have developed and delivered life-changing medicines for diseases that were previously untreatable. We have helped hundreds of thousands of people live fuller, better lives. But this is only the beginning. We continue to take risks to pursue innovation in areas of high unmet medical need. Even when we face setbacks, we refuse to give up. We learn from experience for a deeper understanding of disease and how we might treat it. That spirit, inspired by our visionary founders, drives us forward in everything we do.
Biogen is a member of Interpharma since 2013, you have been member of the board since 2016. What is your motivation to be an active part of the association of research-based pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland?
Biogen was founded in Geneva: in fact, that’s what the “gen” in our name stands for. Today, we manage our international operations from our headquarters in Baar. We currently have about 800 employees in Switzerland and invest about CHF 1.5 billion in our next-generation biologics manufacturing facility in Luterbach near Solothurn. So Switzerland is a very important part of our past, present and future. Being part of Interpharma, we have the opportunity to work with other leading firms to help shape an efficient, high-quality healthcare system that provides patients with rapid access to the innovative treatments they need. As members of Interpharma, we can help more people get access to the best possible care – both here in Switzerland and worldwide.
With Covid-19 the world is experiencing an unprecedented health crisis. What measures does Biogen take to help patients and communities?
We put patients first in everything we do, including our response to COVID-19. We have committed more than $10 million from the Biogen Foundation to organisations fighting COVID-19 around the world, including Switzerland. Our donations are focused on expanding testing options, easing the strain on medical systems, providing training for frontline health workers, and supporting access to necessities like food.
We are also part of scientific efforts to develop treatments or vaccines. We entered into a Clinical Development and Manufacturing agreement with Vir Biotechnology, Inc for the process development and clinical manufacturing of human monoclonal antibodies for the potential treatment of COVID-19. In collaboration with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Partners HealthCare we have also launched a consortium to build and share a new, first-of-its-kind biobank. At the biobank, Biogen employees and their family members who have previously tested positive for coronavirus and recovered from COVID-19 can volunteer to donate blood samples, provide medical data and other information about their symptoms.
These are just a few of the things we are doing, and we will continue to look for more ways to help. Working together, the scientific community, public health authorities and the pharmaceutical industry will rise to this challenge.
Interpharma, the association of Switzerland’s research-based pharmaceutical industry, was founded in Basel in 1933.
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