What do Water, Medicine and Equal Opportunity Have in Common?

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Posted: October 11, 2018

What’s the link between water bottles on a tarmac, medicine and equality in the workplace? Access.

With the pace of natural disasters increasing at an alarming rate, I’ve been thinking a lot about the image of thousands of pallets of water bottles currently left on an airfield in Puerto Rico a year after Hurricane Maria. Everyone had the best of intentions to deliver access– from manufacturing the water bottles to getting them to the island.

I’m sure there is much to learn about what occurred, but the fact remains that those water bottles did not get into the hands of the people who needed them most. And if they aren’t in people’s hands, they aren’t doing any good. The same can be said for medicine. In speaking at The Atlantic Festival last week in Washington, D.C., I compared the water bottle scenario to the access challenges the pharmaceutical industry faces today.

We have promising innovations and deep pipelines to bring important and complex generics to market. The FDA is approving generic drugs at a record pace to help increase access to more affordable medications. But, like the water bottles sitting on the tarmac, approvals alone do not create access if the medicine is not getting into the patient’s hands at the pharmacy counter.

Specialty medications are one of the biggest drivers of prescription drug cost, yet we are only seeing 10-15% generic utilization of these complex products. We need structural fixes to ensure preferred formulary placement for generic medications, just as we once had, to produce the savings that this country has relied upon for decades. There is an urgent need to achieve greater balance between innovation and access and I was grateful to shed light on this issue at #AtlanticFestival.

Equality in the workplace and access to growth opportunities is another topic that I’m passionate about, and it’s always great to have a chance to share my perspective. I've said this for a long time. If every female executive helped each other to progress equality in the workplace it’s not going to move the needle, because there are simply not enough of us. It's going to take our fathers, brothers, sons and husbands to change their view and respect and empower women in the workplace. While capability and work ethic know no gender, opportunity certainly does. The issues we face today are large enough that we need everyone to have equal access to the opportunity to solve them.

Thank you to Steve Clemons and The Atlantic for creating a forum that allows individuals to bring awareness to some of the toughest problems facing Americans and our world today. It is only through open dialogue that we will begin to tackle these important issues together.