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Why Investment in Open Innovation Has Become So Important During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During a recent session of The Next Normal, we discussed how investment in open innovation can lead to more accessible health care.

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During a time where health is globally prioritized more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learning about investment in open innovation has become an important part of accessible health care. Vaccines, therapies, diagnostics and treatment regimens are now able to be developed quicker than ever with the proper incentives and resources. Kathleen Entwistle, private wealth advisor at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, Paul Fehlner, cofounder and president/CEO of reVision Therapeutics, Inc., and Barbara Handelin, cofounder and CEO of Audacity Therapeutics, PBC, recently discussed with Worth how medicine is changing the future of health care.

According to Handelin, Audacity Therapeutics’ main focus is to develop “as many medicines as we could for important, serious diseases using all kinds of innovation, including, and especially, the repurposing of existing drugs, and investing in the kinds of diagnostics that just will never be touched by venture capital.” However, when it comes to COVID-19 and in general, there have been no incentives to do that financially.

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“So it doesn’t happen, there’s no end, there’s been no incentive to develop new antibiotics—were this not a viral pandemic, but a bacterial one. Or say, when we get to a state where the bugs in the world are resistant to all the antibiotics that we have in our storehouse, there is no incentive to develop new antibiotics,” Handelin explained.

It goes beyond antibiotics, though. “There’s also no incentive to be ready with vaccines, a lot of this could be sort of within 20 yards of the finish line,” she added. “But there is no system in place. And therefore, there has been no investment in it. So all those things just got dashed into public view, all at once. And so what you see is on the therapeutic side, it’s not just a vaccine; we need therapeutics, because people are going to get COVID, people have had COVID, people are still getting COVID. We need therapeutics, and there’s been no new drug development…it’s all been repurposed.”

In terms of stakeholders, their incentives for taking a different approach have to do with their relationship with payers. “There’s two ways payers can help,” Fehner revealed. “One is putting money into the companies, so that they have the resources for development. But development fails, so you have to be prepared for that. And that’s a tough thing for a lot of investors to face. And the second piece is, we’ll commit to making the product available right now, even the pharma companies are left to teach doctors about a new medicine. And that strikes me as very odd because the system in principle should be advantaged by the availability of a new medicine. But the system generally is doing nothing to make those medicines available. So it falls on the industry to do it.”

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See the whole conversation about ‘How Investment in Open Innovation Can Lead Us to More Accessible Health Care’ below.

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