How has MSD evolved since its founding in 1968, and what is the importance of the Spanish market for MSD?
We are a heavily research-oriented company. More than 50 years ago, we reached an agreement to develop and produce the antibiotic penicillin in Spain, and with the current environment surrounding COVID-19, it is important to point out how R&D was the initial point of this subsidiary. Today, we have some 1,400 employees and a division of medicines for human and animal health. We have a production plant in Salamanca, where we produce vaccines for animals. We play a massive role in what today is called One Health, because we need to develop the proper medicines for people and animals. In addition, we are fully committed to working on climate change and the environment. This is what MSD Spain represents.
Can you provide an overview of products in your portfolio today?
At the moment, our most important portfolio is on the oncology side, immuno-oncology. We are growing, and we have committed from a R&D perspective to providing access to patients. We have a broad portfolio. From a historic point of view, the fight against infectious diseases has been extremely relevant, especially in the subsidiary in Spain, because we conduct significant research and development antibiotics and antifungals for more than 70 years. We are also strong in HIV. We are also committed to vaccines and are one of the companies with the broadest portfolio on vaccines. Apart from that, diabetes is one of our core businesses as well.
What is the importance of R&D for MSD and for the sector?
COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of R&D. The actions of the healthcare sector collaborating as stakeholders is important. MSD globally invests 20% of its revenue in R&D, which is remarkable. I am proud to say that Spain is a relevant market for clinical research. We are leaders in terms of the number of patients participating in these clinical trials in Europe within the company. The Spanish agency in collaboration with hospitals, together with all the clinicians and pharma companies, makes Spain one of the most important environments to do clinical research. We have a team that is growing, and, with the economic crisis, that is not easy to say. MSD in Spain participates in more than 80% of the clinical studies that MSD do in oncology globally, for example.
What is your vision for the sector, and do you foresee any further public-private collaboration as a response to the medical needs of society?
The reputation of the healthcare sector has improved. We have a high engagement with the public sector for many reasons. R&D is one, as is access, collaboration with hospitals, primary care, and the reconnection of patients. These can only happen through private-public collaboration; there is no other way. We have many public-private agreements, for example one in Granada with Fundación Medina, where we are developing basic research for antibiotics. This is a great example, but we need to have more.
What are the main goals and objectives for MSD for 2021?
We need to be resilient and flexible, and we need to support the healthcare system and our customers on the potential consequences of more waves of COVID-19, specially patients. This means oncology, diabetes, and vaccinations. Many people have not received the proper vaccinations, and this needs to be ramped up. Furthermore, many surgeries have been postponed, and we support the system to foster to reconnect with patients to avoid potential disastrous implications. Of course, we need to continue to develop the style of working to be adaptable and flexible and ensure the best mental health for everybody working here with us. Finally, to do a proper evolution into the future, we need to take care of three things: people's health, animal health, and the climate. We call this “One Health."