CSI Specialty Pharmacy PodcastThis week, Richard Williams, R.Ph., Senior Vice President of Pharmaceutical Innovation and Insights at CSI Specialty Group, joins host Andrew Maddigan, Vice President, Client Engagement, to recap key takeaways from January’s 38th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference from San Francisco, CA.

Don’t miss this overview featuring some of the major trends and announcements from industry leaders, emerging tech companies and private equity/investment firms at one of the year’s most influential healthcare conferences.

Tune in to Discover:

  • The future of IT and digital health
  • Key conference takeaways, challenges and opportunities in the healthcare space
  • What’s in store for gene therapy products
  • How CVS may disrupt the retail health service and delivery space
  • The latest news around pharmaceutical innovation and other potential disruptors in the industry

About Richard Williams, R.Ph.

Richard Williams is a second-generation pharmacist who has spent three decades in the pharmaceutical industry. Throughout his pharma career, he has sold, promoted and contracted for more than 40 products, including more than a dozen blockbuster drugs and many specialty molecules. His background includes experience in neuroscience, endocrine, including diabetes, oncology, and cardiovascular diseases.

In his role as Senior Vice President of Pharmaceutical Innovation and Insights, Richard provides executive leadership and strategic direction to CSI and their partners with an emphasis on business development and growth. 

Prior to joining CSI, Richard practiced retail and hospital pharmacy before joining Eli Lilly & Company. During his time at Lilly, he worked with physicians, integrated delivery systems, academic medical centers, long-term care providers, specialty pharmacies, regional and national health plans, and PBMs.

Richard earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. He has served on several boards, including Christian Leadership Concepts and Hope Smiles. He regularly volunteers with The Bridge, a Nashville based non-profit that helps the homeless, where he is currently working on intersecting street medicine with population health.

About Andrew Maddigan

During the past 30 years, Andrew Maddigan has directed business strategy and marketing functions in a variety of venues, including health care, education, aerospace, and energy. His previous roles have included VP of marketing for the nation’s largest not-for-profit hospice agency, VP of sales and marketing for a national specialty and long-term care pharmacy, and communications director at a large urban school district.

Andrew also led marketing and strategic communications efforts for an international health care accreditation agency, serving as the organization’s liaison to the United Nations Development Program. Andrew earned his BS in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He earned an MS in Educational Administration from Canisius College and an MBA from St. Bonaventure University. Andrew currently serves as VP of client engagement at CSI Specialty Group.

Transcript Notes:

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Specialty Pharmacy Podcast, your prescription for Specialty Pharmacy success.

Andy Madigan: Hello and welcome to the CSI Specialty Pharmacy Podcast. I’m Andy Madigan, CSI vice president of client engagement. Today is our first episode of 2020. We’re joined by Richard Williams, CSIs senior vice president of pharmaceutical innovation and insight. Richard has over three decades of experience in the pharmacy and pharmaceutical industry and is in fact a second generation pharmacist.

Andy Madigan: Welcome back, Richard, and first I should say happy new year. Happy new decade, as a matter of fact, 2020.

Richard W.: Happy new year, Andy. I’m glad to be back and this year has started off very quickly.

Andy Madigan: It sure has. Each year, one of the first major events to hit the calendar is the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. And Richard, you’re here to give our listeners some insight about this year’s event. So let’s jump right in and get started. Richard, what can you tell us about this year’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference?

Richard W.: Well, Andy, as many of your listeners know, this is an annual conference. It’s one of the biggest conferences of the year and it really sets the tone for what’s going to happen in healthcare throughout the entire year. This was the 38th year with more than 450 healthcare company presenting at the four day meeting in San Francisco. It’s really a who’s who in healthcare with company CEOs telling their stories and selling their companies.

Richard W.: Paul Keckley, who many of your listeners may know, calls JP Morgan the Woodstock for healthcare leaders and investors. This year’s conference was pretty upbeat with almost all of the 482 companies that presented being pretty upbeat and confident with regard to their growth strategies for 2020. These companies presented new ideas and discussed the current state of the industry.

Richard W.: The companies range from companies that everybody knows. Johnson and Johnson has a market cap of over almost $400 billion, I think it’s $392 the last time I looked, to brand new bootstrap startup companies. Although primarily made up of lifecycle companies like big pharma, medical devices and biotech companies, there were 27 not for profit health systems. Entities that you would recognize like Ascension, Intermountain Healthcare, Henry Ford, Aurora Health, Mass General. There were also presentations from retail chains, physician organizations, health IT companies and analytical companies. The attendees to the conference also included consulting firms, investment banks, venture capital funds, accounting firms, law firms.

Richard W.: At the end of the podcast, Andy, what I’d like to do is I’ll share the strange and fascinating facts and share with your listeners how you differentiate all the different players that participate in the JP Morgan conference.

Andy Madigan: Sounds good, Richard. So what were some of the key topics that were discussed this year?

Richard W.: Most of the pharmaceutical companies discuss their current product performance as well as their future pipelines. They also defended drug prices. They discussed government policy and regulations, and of course the cost of research and development are always topics that they get a lot of questions about. In addition to that, they talk about the value of the new medicines coming to market and how they will impact society.

Richard W.: The dominant theme from other companies included outsourcing, how to improve the supply chain, digital interoperability, artificial intelligence, robotics, analytics, the evolving consumer and how they can partner to improve patient outcomes and consumer satisfaction. We’re beginning to hear more and more about the patient becoming the consumer.

Richard W.: Other big topics that JP Morgan health this year included the lack of diversity at the executive ranks, drug pricing, big text march into the sector and the missing patient voice.

Andy Madigan: Can you talk a little bit about one of the topics you touched on briefly, digital health? What came up with perspective digital health at the conference this year?

Richard W.: You know, Andy, it’s interesting. Many of the attendees complained about the confusion over the definition of digital health and that that lack of clarity could really hold back this sector. Digital health is broadly considered the intersection of health and technology, but the term is so overused and overhyped, it’s no longer clear what it really means.

Andy Madigan: So to you, how would you characterize digital health?

Richard W.: When I think of digital health, I think of two things. One is invisible data. Invisible data, it’s a stuff that’s created by our iWatch or Fitbit or other types of devices that are wearables that are creating and tracking and monitoring information. We’re also seeing it with Amazon Echo devices and how they’re capturing information in our homes and in our cars. So that’s the first thing about health IT.

Richard W.: The second part of it is the information that is being captured and that will ultimately become a therapeutic and may require a prescription from a physician and/or there are companies like Express Scripts that are now evaluating the different devices and technology because they have the potential not only to help patients but also to harm patients and there’s misinformation coming from them.

Richard W.: So I think there’s two different aspects, when I think of IT, that you really have to delineate and I think we’re going to need to do it more and more going forward.

Andy Madigan: So Richard, what would you say are the biggest takeaways from the conference?

Richard W.: Andy, there were five things that jumped out of my notes as I listened to the different topics being discussed. First of all, it was according to former FDA commissioner, there are going to be 10 new gene therapy products approved in 2020. Of course, those are exciting and patients are hopeful that for the first time we may have cures to some amazing diseases. However, we’ve got to figure out a way to pay for that innovation as well.

Richard W.: The second was conversation with the leadership from CVS health that they will open 12 new health hubs a week. CVS plans to transform how healthcare is consumed. They’re going to open 1500 stores or open health hubs in 1500 stores over the next two years, after launching the first three stores in Houston in February as part of their pilot project, and they’re going to update almost or allocate 20% of the retail space to these health services. I think that’s really going to be a significant change to how healthcare is delivered in the future and watch other companies like Walmart following that, but it’s going to put tremendous pressure on health systems and hospital systems going forward.

Andy Madigan: That’s a game changer in retail. When you say that they’re going to reallocate 20% of what was a retail space in the front end of the pharmacy of what most people, consumers, can relate to. To see this commitment being made is, it’s quite remarkable.

Richard W.: Yeah. I think it’s certainly a story that we will continue to follow that will impact everybody in the healthcare ecosystem going forward. The third thing is a lady named Jen Horonjeff. Jen is the CEO and founder of a cooperative called Savvy, and she was named in 2018 as one of the top 50 daring entrepreneurs. She showed up at this year’s meeting wearing a hospital gown during her panel discussion at the independent theater where she spoke about the future of pharmaceutical innovation. When asked, why did she wear a hospital gown on stage in front of 99% of an audience that was wearing suits, she basically said she wanted to highlight the power imbalance between decision makers and end-users.

Richard W.: Many times patients are facing some of the scariest moments of their lives. We put them in a cold room, stripped them of their clothes and dignity. Jen challenged us to remember who is not represented at this meeting. I found that to be a really impactful reality of what’s missing in healthcare conferences, not only JP Morgan but other healthcare conferences. But we talk about keeping the patient in the center of all of our decision making. Jen really brought it to life.

Andy Madigan: Absolutely.

Richard W.: Andy, the two other things that kind of jumped out, one was a new startup company called E-O-R-X. Was launched a couple of days before the JP Morgan conference and they’re actually going to be involved with creating novel medicines that are more affordable for patients and then also Pear Therapeutics. They’re specializing in prescription digital therapeutics. And I mentioned earlier that there will be digital devices that are going to require a prescription and Pear Therapeutics is one of the leaders in that space.

Richard W.: So those were two kind of evolving companies that presented and shared some of the work that they’re doing.

Andy Madigan: Some pretty promising innovations. So the JP Morgan conferences known for deal making. Was there much talk about mergers and acquisitions this year? Are there any things that, any rumors going around the hall?

Richard W.: Andy, you’re absolutely right. JP Morgan, historically, is really all about mergers and acquisitions. Jim Cramer from CNBC Mad Money always does a remote broadcast from the JP Morgan conference and in doing so, he talks to a lot of the CEOs about deals that are being made. This year, the lack of M&A activity was also news. But when you look at it historically, the data would suggest that there is less business deals during an election year. 69% of the individuals surveyed that typically are involved with deal-making say that the valuation gap between buyers and sellers is the largest that it has been since 2008. So there’s a big gap in determining what the true value of a deal is.

Richard W.: During the four day event, there are hundreds of receptions, dinners and one health meetings. What we don’t know is who met with who, what deals were discussed and what followup meetings will take place after the conference. Be assured though, any deals that you read about later this year were probably initiated during the JP Morgan conference.

Richard W.: I should also note a funny fact that in the lobby of the Hilton hotel there was a champagne vending machine to celebrate all the deals made at the conference.

Andy Madigan: Nice. Nice.

Richard W.: I’m not sure it received a whole lot of business this past week.

Andy Madigan: So Richard, was there anything else about the conference that really jumped out at you?

Richard W.: You know, one of the presentations I found interesting and I think your listeners will as well, is Viatris, which is a combination of Milan and Pfizer’s [Upjohn] division. They laid out the future of that company, which was really announced in July of 2019. They really talk about creating a new global healthcare gateway and their 2020 revenue’s going to be made up of about 34% generic products and over 50% branded products, but they have access to more than a thousand molecules and expect to increase their sales by over $3 billion over the next four years. They’ve got a suite of products in different therapeutic areas including brands, generics over the counter, biologics, biosimilars. They also have a really broad organization that includes over 13,000 sales reps, 2,500 scientists, a thousand regulatory experts, and over 600 medical product safety professionals.

Andy Madigan: Wow.

Richard W.: And they want to take what they, this global footprint, and partner with pharma companies, pharmaceutical companies, some of the smaller mid sized companies to help them really commercialize future branded products. So I think this is a company that there’s some skepticism about can they hit their financials, but it’s also a very intriguing combination of two good companies that do have a global footprint that I think could disrupt the market in some really positive ways.

Andy Madigan: So Richard, earlier you mentioned that you would kind of help us identify different types of people who attended the conference. I think you called it strange and fascinating facts, right?

Richard W.: Yeah.

Andy Madigan: So can you tell us a little bit about that?

Richard W.: Andy, JP Morgan conferences is one of those conferences that you kind of love to hate, if you will. One is it’s the most expensive meetings probably in the entire year. It is invitation only. Hotels in San Francisco require a four night minimum and rooms go for usually about a thousand dollars a night. If you want to sit at a table in a hotel lobby, which many of us have done many, many times, it requires a minimum purchase and/or you can rent it for a 30 minute time interval. An example is the JW Marriott, to sit at a table, it was $125 plus an 18% gratuity. Of course, for that you got to table, four chairs and four glasses of tap water, but that … it’s a pretty expensive meeting.

Richard W.: There was a guy at the conference who summarized each of the attendees based on how they were dressed. Omar [Kahti] pointed out how to differentiate the JP Morgan audience. If an individual is wearing a black suit, they were probably an investment banker. Blue suits were reserved for med tech or pharma CEOs. If an individual is wearing an outdoor vest, they were probably, or a hoodie, they were part of a startup. If an individual is wearing a Patagonia vest or jacket, they were probably part of a well funded startup. And of course there were a few people wandering around with sweat pants and t-shirts and they were the billionaire investors. And of course one day we all want to be walking around a conference like that in sweatpants and t-shirts.

Richard W.: There are many important conferences each year. JP Morgan gives us a glimpse into the future. Based on this year’s event, the general consensus is that 2020 is going to be a very interesting year. The majority of the participants were very upbeat about what’s going to happen with healthcare, the advances we’re going to make and that they’re going to have a very successful year. So the tone of the participants was very upbeat and we look forward to an exciting 2020.

Andy Madigan: Great. Thanks, Richard. That’s a great way to start things off for the year and that’s about all the time we do have today, so I will thank you Richard for sharing your insights and we of course look forward to having you join us again.

Andy Madigan: Thank you for listening to the CSI Specialty Pharmacy Podcast. If you’ve enjoyed listening today, I encourage you to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast delivery platform. I also encourage you to visit our webpage, csigroup.net, and download your free copy of the 2019 State of Specialty Pharmacy Report. Again, that’s csigroup.net forward slash survey. I will say that we are already working on the 2020 State of Specialty Pharmacy Report, so look for information about how to participate in that and then of course to obtain a copy when it’s released.

Andy Madigan: You can also keep up with us on social media by following CSI Specialty group on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. CSI Specialty group is a subsidiary of group purchasing organization [Intalayer 00:00:17:08]. CSI expands Intalayer’s suite of solutions to healthcare providers, health systems, pharmacies and pharmaceutical partners. Intalayer is owned by Intermountain healthcare, a leading healthcare system based in Salt Lake City, Utah. CSI supports our parent organization’s vision of providing tailored smart solutions to help deliver a superior services at an affordable cost.

Andy Madigan: You’ve been listening to the CSI Specialty Pharmacy Podcast. Until next time, good day.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Specialty Pharmacy Podcast. If there’s anything we mentioned in today’s show you missed, don’t worry, we take the show notes for you at csigroup.net slash podcast. If you’re not already a subscriber, please consider pressing the subscribe button on our podcast player so you never miss one of our future episodes. And if you haven’t given us a rating or a review on iTunes yet, please find a spare minute and help us reach and educate even more of our Specialty Pharmacy peers. The Specialty Pharmacy Podcast is a production of CSI Specialty group, your go to firm for all things Specialty Pharmacy. Thanks again for listening and we’ll catch you next time. Doctor’s orders.

Here’s How to Subscribe

Via iTunes
Via Tunein
Via Soundcloud