Why did you get involved in the life sciences?
I’ve always loved science. Growing up, I always chose the science courses at school. I didn’t have an end goal in mind – I just loved studying science, so I kept pursuing it.
When I graduated university, the pharmaceutical industry was in a period of strong growth. I saw early on that my science degree was applicable to the real world, and that there was an industry where I could use the skills I’d learned to ultimately help people. That really excited me and so I entered the industry thinking I'd try it for a year or two and see how it went. And 30 years later, I'm happy to be able to say that I’m still as inspired to help and serve patients as I was in those early days.
What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned along the way?
One important lesson I’ve learned is that the best asset that you can have are the people around you. The people you work with are the most important components in helping to achieve common goals and deliver big, ambitious projects. They provide inspiration, expertise, and a desire to always do better – all of the things that help a life sciences company succeed. With the right team you can go further than you ever expected and deliver beyond what you’d ever imagined. And that means that you can ultimately provide better outcomes to patients.
I also learned early on that life doesn't always work out the way things do in the lab. Bringing innovation to patients and healthcare providers in the real world takes consideration, versatility, delicacy, critical thought, and a strong understanding of every factor that can impact the world around you. This is why personalized medicine will continue to see a significant surge in the coming years.
What makes your company unique?
For one, Taiho is a Japanese company. The Japanese culture component is something that is very special and unique. Our team at Taiho Canada has skillfully blended the best of Japanese culture with the best of Canadian culture to create a thriving company. It’s a unique mix of innovation, discipline, respect and striving to improve always. We support and rely on each other. We have immense passion for what we do. We have a meticulous attention to detail.
“From the beginning we’ve remained focused on tangibly improving the lives of those living with a range of tumour types.”
We’re not a large company in Canada by design. We’re agile and specialized, which allows us to understand the needs of our patient and clinician communities intimately. From the beginning we’ve remained focused on tangibly improving the lives of those living with a range of tumour types. Our tagline,“Making the human connection,” speaks to this commitment. One of the most important factors in our culture is “resilience”, as we relentlessly explore the options to help improve patient access to new cancer therapies in Canada.
How do you define success when developing innovative cancer therapies?
The first measure of success is that patients have access to the therapies. You can develop and study the best molecule in the world but if nobody has access to it, it's virtually useless.
The other real measure of success is defined by improving patient outcomes. If the therapies we develop have positive outcomes – if they give patients better survival rates, or better quality of life, or both – more time, better time, or better tolerability – then that’s success. We want patients to access our therapies and fare better using them, and for them to be able to experience and enjoy more of life’s special moments with their loved ones. For those living with complex cancers like stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, or bone marrow cancers like myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), quality of life is an important part of every conversation with one’s family or one’s oncologist.
What does the future hold for Canada’s cancer communities?
The future is so bright for patients.
Advancements in oncology have made massive strides, and will take quantum leaps forward, in the coming years. Nowadays medicine and technology are coming together to result in advancements that were once called ‘science fiction’ only a few years ago. For example, artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools are now assisting in diagnosis and helping to determine a patient’s optimal treatment path. Liquid biopsies are being used to detect cancer cells or tumour DNA in one’s blood sooner. Precision medicine is being harnessed to develop targeted therapies that consider an individual’s genes, environment, and even lifestyle. The list goes on and on. I am so excited that we, as an industry, are bending the curve in cancer survival rates.
The future for us at Taiho is exciting, too. We have a strong pipeline of molecules. Our researchers are relentlessly looking at new and unique pathways and mechanisms to kill tumour cells and eradicate cancers. We’re working hard to bring new therapies to market and are focused on ensuring patients have timely and unencumbered access to them. Bringing a new therapy to market is a difficult process and I genuinely hope readers understand how committed we are to bringing world-class therapies within reach for all Canadians impacted by cancer. We want to be our best on a patient’s worst day; because for patients, every moment matters.
To learn more about Taiho Pharma Canada, Inc., visit www.TaihoPharma.ca.
This story was created by Patient Voice, on behalf of Taiho Pharma Canada, Inc.