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If you gave the same early-phase compound to two different companies, would they achieve the same results?

IDEA Pharma believes this question is at the heart of pharmaceutical innovation and has created a system to rank how effective organizations are at getting new compounds through the regulatory approval process and into the hands of patients. Johnson & Johnson ranked first on IDEA’s Productive Innovation Index (PII) five of the past six years, including the recently published 2015 PII.

To better understand the PII and get a glimpse into the future of pharmaceutical innovation, we independently interviewed Mike Rea, CEO of IDEA Pharma, and Dr. William N. Hait, Global Head of Research & Development for the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Q&A with Mike Rea

What does the word innovation mean to IDEA Pharma?
“The only innovation that matters is the innovation that gets to patients. Our PII is about meaningful change. It’s about understanding which companies are getting meaningful new therapies to market, and what is contributing to their success. It reveals practices that serve companies well and those that don’t.”

How do leading companies approach innovation?
“The best innovators don’t necessarily have the biggest pipeline in the industry. They pick best-in-class agents carefully and don’t have trouble throwing away products that aren’t working. As a result, they launch meaningful products that are better than anything else on the market.”

What will innovation look like in the future?
“Innovation will require new business models, and will have to create more value than it has historically. The idea that pharma is about stamping out pills that people take every day of their lives, for the rest of their lives, is no longer true. For example, if a single pill cures a disease, or a vaccine prevents cancer, how is a company going to price it to make money and continue innovating?”

Q&A with Dr. Hait

What does the word innovation mean to you?
“Innovation is looking at a difficult problem and coming up with solutions that no one else would have thought possible. Conventional wisdom often stands in the way of innovation because it relies on traditional explanations of disease. If we wish to transform today’s ‘disease care’ into true health care, we need to transcend the limiting boundaries of what is already known.”

How does Johnson & Johnson approach innovation? 
“Einstein said, ‘If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.’ That’s how we approach innovation. We focus on the disease, whereas most companies focus on mechanisms of action. We learn so much about a disease that we can prioritize pathways and concentrate on the right targets, which makes the probability of success much higher.”

What will healthcare innovation look like in the future?
“We envision a world without disease, and I believe that we can get there. But to succeed, we need to focus on transformational innovations that prevent, cure, or intercept diseases. If we can figure out who’s at risk of developing a disease, and then intercept the process before it can take hold, that’s a fantastic thing to shoot for. And we’re shooting for it.”

Click to read more about IDEA Pharma’s Productive Innovation Index.