Pf Power List 2019: Who is shaping the pharma & healthcare sector?

Pharmafield logo in lightbulb: Pf Power List 2019

The Pf Power List has looked at who is making a difference in pharma and healthcare in 2019.

This year has brought a range of developments for the pharma industry, the NHS and the wider healthcare system. From the NHS Long Term Plan to ongoing Brexit planning, the industry has not stood still. But who is driving it forward, having an impact and delivering results? Pf Magazine asked the industry to nominate the Pf Power List 2019.

Julie Wood Chief Executive NHS Clinical Commissioners: Pf Power list


Julie Wood

Chief Executive NHS Clinical Commissioners

With more than 30 years in NHS service development and innovation in primary care and commissioning, Julie has been instrumental in establishing NHS Clinical Commissioners. She is a regular witness at the Health and Care Select Committee and Public Accounts Committee, making the case for clinical commissioners on issues including primary care and public health, the financial sustainability of the NHS and the NHS Long Term Plan. She also suggested legislative change for NHS England and Improvement’s proposals to facilitate collaborative working in the NHS.

To ensure the NHS medicines budget is used efficiently and effectively, Julie worked closely with NHS England to hold public consultations and produce national guidance on items which should not be routinely prescribed in primary care. Evidence shows that spend on these items is becoming less varied across the country and patients are getting more effective treatment.

At a time when politics is divisive and pressure on the NHS is growing, her colleague Sophie Brown said: “Julie has an unparalleled ability to bring, at times divergent, partners together, unite them behind a common purpose, and drive forward change for the benefit of both the health system and patients.”

James Burt Vice President, EMENA Accord Healthcare: Pf Power list

Notable mentions on Brexit

James Burt

Vice President, EMENA Accord Healthcare

“Through James’ vision, Accord Healthcare has made significant investments that represent a vote of confidence in UK science and manufacturing, counter to the challenges over Brexit,” explained Hayley Jayawardene when nominating James.

Accord Healthcare’s post-EU referendum investments include acquisition of a major pharmaceutical plant in North Devon, purchase of a facility in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and a distribution site in Oxfordshire, securing Accord Healthcare’s commitment to the UK.

Txema Sanz General Manager Astellas UK: Pf Power list

Inspirational leader

Txema Sanz

General Manager Astellas UK

Nominating Txema as Inspirational Leader, Rina Newton of Complimed said: “Txema became Astellas UK’s General Manager during a very turbulent time for the organisation. Under PMCPA audit and heavy scrutiny, they had been suspended from ABPI membership for institutional compliance failures. This had a huge impact within the company: on culture, employee engagement, and paralysed decision-making. Across the industry there was marked external criticism of Astellas too.”

Through empathy, understanding and commitment, Txema gave employees a voice, driving engagement and showing his “desire to do the right thing, rather than force compliance or ticking the compliance box.”

Rina added: “It is not surprising that under his leadership, the organisation has achieved high compliance standards as part of their ‘business as usual’, is no longer suspended from the ABPI or under PMCPA audit. This is a stunning testament of an inspiring leader.”

Dr Elisabeth Björk MD, PhD, Senior Vice President & Head of Late-stage Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic (CVRM), BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca: Pf Power list


Dr Elisabeth Björk

MD, PhD, Senior Vice President & Head of Late-stage Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic (CVRM), BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca

Nominating Elisabeth, Matthew Kent, Global Media Relations Director at AstraZeneca said: “How many people can say that they were instrumental in re-shaping the clinical future of a therapeutic area that could protect the lives of 130 million patients?”

In her role, Elisabeth is responsible for the overall development strategy and delivery across the company’s CVRM portfolio. In 2018, AstraZeneca officially integrated Renal into its CVRM Therapy Area, recognising the clinical overlaps between these patient types and the company’s experience in investigating novel medicines in cardiovascular and metabolism. Elisabeth has advocated for looking at the CVRM patient as one, and notably, ensuring that patients with or at-risk of chronic kidney disease are no longer left behind, despite decades of little innovation.

She has led the development of a first-in-class sodium-glucose cotransporters 2 inhibitor to treat patients with type-2 diabetes and secured its first major regulatory approval. She has also shaped the overall clinical strategy of the medicine to explore potential cardio-renal protective benefits in patients with and without type-2 diabetes. Elisabeth has also driven the clinical collaboration with a partner company to advance a first-in-class medicine for the treatment of anaemia caused by chronic kidney disease. The medicine made history in industry by earning regulatory approval first in China, ahead of the US and EU, a first for a first-in-class medicine.


New product development team, Origin

Origin’s New Product Development Team (NPD) is driving innovation in child-resistant pharmaceutical packaging, developing commercial solutions for child-resistant compliant packaging for the UK, Europe and the USA. The team also focuses on overcoming the challenges of accommodating both older people friendly and child-resistant values in packaging design.

In nominating Origin, Rich Quelch, Global Head of Marketing said: “The NPD team is committed to preventing instances of accidental drug ingestions, working with the Child Safe Packaging Group to promote industry best practice and raise the profile of this issue among policymakers. Each year Origin contributes to avoiding over 40 million ingestions of tablets and liquids, through its insistence on effective and compliant child-resistant plastic container design.”

Dr Loubna Bouarfa Chief Executive and Founder OKRA Technologies

Women Leading the Way

Dr Loubna Bouarfa

Chief Executive and Founder OKRA Technologies

Rasim Shah, Director and Chief Revenue Officer at OKRA Technologies nominated Dr Loubna Bouarfa to recognise her achievements in driving artificial intelligence (AI) in life sciences. Starting her entrepreneurship journey in 2007, she researched how AI could be used to predict surgical errors in real time. This was applied directly to the operating table – alerting surgeons to potential errors in order to prevent them – and is now the most cited research in the field.

In the last year, Loubna has led the company to become thought leaders on AI, and begun collaborations with Top 10 Pharma to allow industry to combine multiple, complex data sets and generate evidence-based insights in real time to drive medical and commercial outcomes. She has been appointed onto the European Union High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence advising on ethical, legal and societal issues and co-authored the recent European Commission Guidelines for Trustworthy AI.

Loubna has also directed OKRA towards social care, working within foster care to improve children’s quality of life. Developing a placement stability predictor tool, OKRA can help social care workers identify the best family/carer matches for a child, as well as how and when intervention is required to avoid placement breakdowns. She also champions women in tech and STEM, constructing OKRA as a female-friendly workplace.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Chiesi Limited

In May 2019, the Chiesi Group, including Chiesi Limited in the UK, was the first global pharmaceutical company to achieve B Corp certification.

B Corps® or Certified B Corporations® meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good: their economic activity, in addition to generating profit, creates a measured and certified positive impact on people, society and the environment.

Tom Delahoyde, Managing Director of Chiesi UK said: “In order to achieve this accolade, Chiesi Limited underwent a rigorous, material measurement of its governance structure, impact on its workers, customers, community, and environment.” Some of the changes include:

  • Introducing a Social and Environmental Policy with quarterly audits.
  • Introducing sustainability objectives in all manager job descriptions and the Head Office bonus scheme.
  • Partnering with an energy efficiency consultancy to calculate their carbon footprint and steps to reduce it.
  • Switching to 100% renewable energy and introducing other environmentally-friendly elements to the business.
  • Contributing to community good causes and initiatives.

Best Practice

PCBU Leadership Team, Sanofi UK

Nominating Sanofi, Paul Frith of Rubica Change and Analytics said: “For the past year, the Sanofi PCBU Leadership Team has boldly embarked on a journey to revolutionise the Business Unit. The business was operating in a complex landscape, where traditional selling was no longer effective. The business also had to deliver on a new and demanding strategy with streamlined resources. The team pursued Key Account Excellence (KAE), but not in the conventional sense. They mobilised everyone, leveraged the existing organisational set-up, encouraged cross-functional working, built competence and confidence across the business and empowered people to become self-sustaining and able to challenge the status quo. They are now delivering KAE with a £6m increase in operating income, volume growth in key geographies and market research.”

Marion Laverty Office Manager, NHS Engagement and Northern Ireland ABPI: Pf Power list

Mentors Making a Difference

Marion Laverty

Office Manager, NHS Engagement and Northern Ireland ABPI

Marion promotes science in Northern Ireland schools using ABPI resources. Her interactive lessons cover how medicines are developed, how to safely use medicines and the roles of those in the pharmaceutical industry.

Well-received by teachers and children, Kirsty Gelsthorpe of the ABPI said: “Marion sparks children’s interest in science at an early stage. Her efforts have meant that the ABPI has been invited to participate in the Annual Royal Dublin Society Primary Science Fair, the Enthuse Celebration Awards and the STEM Ambassador Awards.”

Under Marion’s leadership, ABPI Northern Ireland has recruited five STEM ambassadors to join the STEM Network promoting these subjects in schools.

Marion also plays an active role in the first ever Enthuse Partnership which promotes STEM in schools along with continuous professional development for teachers.

Marion is now working on the WHO Challenge ‘Medication without harm’ and supporting the NI response to this.

Dr Zubair Ahmed Chief Executive Medicspot


Dr Zubair Ahmed

Chief Executive Medicspot

Dr Zubair Ahmed has taken a different approach to digital healthcare expanding the capabilities of what a healthcare professional can do remotely.

Medicspot’s connected diagnostics enable GPs, pharmacists and nurses to treat 75% more conditions than with video-only consultations.

At a time when independent community pharmacies are under increasing pressure, Medicspot is supporting over 200 independent community pharmacies, providing them with an extra revenue stream and increased footfall. It’s making a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of over 10,000 patients in the UK.

Lucas Wickens of Medicspot said: “Zubair is committed to using technology for good and driving digital healthcare forward to make communities happier and healthier.”