Presentation by Andreas Seiter

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Bio-Society Issues and Related Processes

(Andreas Seiter, Novartis (Switzerland))

Andreas Seiter explained the need for a multi-stakeholder approach from an industry’s perspective, based on the example of “access to healthcare”. He gave a brief definition of the term “bio-society issues”, involving:

Impact of genomics revolution on humanity and society at large;

Ethical boundaries (e.g. embryonic stem cells, cloning of human beings, germ line therapy);

Novel risks (cross-species infections, new bio-warfare agents);

Access and benefit sharing (intellectual property, costs, allocation of funding, equal access to treatment).

The challenge of bio-innovation lies in the disruptive change, which creates fears like loss of status, economic disadvantage and increasing external control of our lives. Bio-society issues have a potentially major impact on the fundamentals of human society. The goal of achieving equal access to live-saving medicines for all becomes more difficult to achieve if such medicines become a reality in increasing numbers - but at high costs.

The genomics revolution, the North-South divide and an aging society create a mix of conditions, which threatens a (remaining) consensus. A refined and more sustainable direction of global healthcare policies is necessary. The healthcare industry used to portray itself as a “philanthropic industry” and suddenly finds its business model under public attack.

Governance issues requiring MSPs in this area include:

Reducing the healthcare divide between the rich and the poor;

Human rights versus luxury - where is the line?

Role of the private (capital market funded) healthcare industry; creating a sustainable business model;

Balancing market forces with social and development goals;

Measuring, monitoring, and sharing “good practice” in pragmatic problem solving.

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