Russell Williams’s Vision for Rx&D
These are “exciting” times for the pharmaceutical industry, Russell Williams observed. In his address on February 22, the president of Rx&D and erstwhile MNA for Nelligan used that adjective frequently as he outlined his enthusiasm for an expanded and enhanced “partnership” role for the pharmaceutical industry in the Canadian health care system.
In its contacts with cost-conscious governments and other stakeholders, the industry must promote the notion that innovative medicines “are part of the solution” to sustaining the health care system, Williams said. Promotion of a business climate conducive to investment and in which intellectual property is adequately protected will bring in the resources, funding and researchers for development of novel medicines. Assuring broad access to new drugs and expanded choices for medical practitioners calls for effective communication and cooperation not only with governments but also with health care providers and patient groups, he suggested. “We are clearly looking at trying to advance our industry but we do believe our agenda is shared by researchers, health care professionals, patients and governments.”
Crucial to the success of this ambitious agenda is enhancing the industry’s reputation as a health care provider. “If we are going to ask to be a partner with government, [our industry must] withstand public scrutiny and changing times. We must be, in perception and reality, above reproach,” Williams averred. Changes put in place by Rx&D, such as modifications to the code of ethics (still a work in progress) and a new focus on transparency, are steps in the right direction. It is significant that the Canadian Medical Association has supported the alterations to the code of conduct, he remarked.
Williams noted that his passion for the country’s health care system – “one of the cornerstones of the Canadian identity” – was a principal reason for his move from politics to the private sector. “What drives me and makes me excited is that if we do this right, we will increase the quality of life of Canadians, giving them a greater life span and a higher standard of living…with an exciting new economy and new investment and also better health care.” At the same time, he added, “if we do this right, this could be an exciting time to make Canada the research capital of the world.”
By Carol Duthie, freelance medical writer and editor
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