John Flannery, CEO of GE Healthcare, has worked for General Electric for 30 years, but moved into health care only two-and-a-half years ago. He has had significant success since then, turning a division that was large but stagnant into an $18 billion money-maker. He talked recently with STAT about building a biopark, why applying data analytics to production is like craft brewing, and how his business is expanding into the developing world. This interview has been edited and condensed.
You’ve said that about half your business involves selling equipment and services to the biological drug production industry. What does that entail?
Seven or eight of the top 10 drugs now are biologic drugs. We have a role in supporting all of those drugs. We work closely with the drug companies and pharma companies as they’re researching and developing these drugs. The production process is really an integral part of the final approval of the drug itself, so we stay with these companies for years after these drugs come to market. It’s a good growth business for us.
And you’re expanding now into cell therapy — supporting companies like Kite and Juno that are developing CAR-T cancer immune therapies. What do you think you can provide to that process?
The industry really needs help standardizing protocols, standardizing procedures, how do you verify the chain of custody — these are things that are going to be unique to cell therapy business and hurdles if they can be overcome that can help the business grow.