"I'm not sick of innovation. Perhaps the best thing that happened to me is that I found myself surrounded by young people who have another idea every week, ever more surprising and amazing, some good, some not so good. I think that never in the history of humanity has there been a period in which there has been such a flood and torrent of ideas," entrepreneur Yossi Vardi said yesterday in an open dialogue with Prof. Yitzhak Peterburg, chairman of Teva, in the context of a panel on "New Definitions in a Changing World: People, Companies and Technology in 2025" at the Globes Israel Business Conference 2016 in Tel Aviv.
"The biggest change," said Vardi, "is the democratization of the ability to innovate. You don't need to be part of General Electric or General Motors or some other giant company in order to innovate. And not only can you innovate quickly, you can also threaten the biggest companies."
On the way Teva copes with innovation, Peterburg said, "There are always barriers. In the health world and in Teva's world there are the natural competitors, like Pfizer. In the same breath, when we explain to ourselves what has changed, I think that the biggest change that has happened is not the technology but our customer. The health and pharmaceuticals industry is perhaps one of the last traditional industries to be dragged along after innovation, and someone can easily come along with an idea and change your entire industry. You have to be prepared for that.
"The customer, as in other industries, wants everything now and fast. Even the definition of value in the pharma world is different: it's not how much it costs and what it does, but how convenient and quick it is, and if you don’t have a solution for all this, then you are not meeting your consumer's demands. Today, 60% of young people in the US prefer to see a doctor via their mobile telephone, and over 50% prefer to go to a drugstore chain and meet the doctor there rather than in their clinic. We have to respond to such demands because these are our customers, and I think that Teva is orientated towards that.
"We should not put ourselves into a situation in which we tell our customers what they need. They know very well how to define what they need. Teva has 87 production plants all around the world, we produce a crazy number of pills, and every day Teva treats 200 million people around the world, and one in five prescriptions in the US is for Teva. That in itself is not enough. It is necessary all the time to check what the customer wants, and, to tell the truth, he or she doesn't really want a drug. The customer wants a problem solved, and so we are starting to hear a mantra that is being repeated by all drug company CEOs: 'more than just a pill.' We need to provide a solution and not just the chemical product, the pill that is designed to treat you.
"Woe to any company that fails to realize that it needs to worry about innovation by smaller companies. One little miss, and it can be wiped off the map."
One of the audience asked Peterburg to comment on Teva's latest acquisitions. "They're excellent," he responded, "I suggest we wait. We have a tendency to raise up quickly and put down quickly. I think that Israel has good reason to be proud of Teva, and the company has the right solutions."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 12, 2016
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