Pfizer hosts stakeholder roundtable on the future of Australian life sciences

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Pfizer brought together leaders in industry and the life sciences sector late last week for a roundtable to discuss the impact of COVID-19.

The event was led by Biointelect who are now working with Pfizer to identify potential policy levers that could be leveraged to strengthen the sector as Australia moves out of the pandemic.

The discussion featured stakeholders from across the relevant sectors with representatives including TGA head John Skerritt, AusBiotech chair Michelle Burke and CEO LorrainChiroiu, as well as MSAC chair Professor Robyn Ward. There were also representatives from Medicines Australia, the Department of Health, the George Institute, ARCS, MTPConnect and a number of academic institutions.

The roundtable focus was a report commissioned by Pfizer - Response and Resilience: Lessons Learned from Global Life Sciences Ecosystems in the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Pfizer’s medical director Dr Krishan Thiru said the sector has been resilient during the pandemic but that there are lessons.

“We of course hope that Australia continues on its trajectory out of COVID-19 and life can start returning to some form of normalcy,” said Dr Thiru.

“When we look back on the impact of COVID in years to come, it will be a story of great loss and suffering, but also a story of resilience, of innovation, and of hope. 

“Nowhere is this more evident than across the life sciences sector. Unified by a common goal, researchers, institutions, Government and industry embraced flexibility, collaboration and speed to better understand the threat of COVID, how the disease behaves, its impact on our way of life and to explore treatments and vaccines to overcome it.

“The importance of this event was to recognise that this capability can’t be stood up overnight. They must already be in-place, fully operational, and proven well in advance of future threats,” said Dr Thiru.

Biointelect managing director Jenny Herz, who chaired the roundtable, said, “Pfizer have commissioned an excellent report and we explored the key themes in the workshop. A clear take-home message was that many of the usual barriers to life science commercialisation fell away, in the face of a global threat and a common purpose.

"The Australian ecosystem’s challenge now is to sustain momentum, continue to advocate for ongoing partnership between industry, government and academia, so that things don’t go back to the way they were before.”