If You’re Not Innovating, You’re Planning Your Exit

Pennsylvania Bio’s CEO Roundtable brings biotech leaders together to discuss challenges facing the industry

September 17, 2015

By Christopher Florentz

Paul Perrault - Commenting During Panel

CSL CEO and Managing Director Paul Perreault (center) responds to a question from the CEO Roundtable moderator.

Downturns in the global markets may have a significant adverse impact on some businesses, but CSL Behring isn’t one of them, CSL CEO and Managing Director Paul Perreault recently shared with more than 250 biotechnology leaders from the U.S. east coast.

“Organic growth is the base of our business,” Paul said at Pennsylvania Bio’s CEO Roundtable in King of Prussia, Pa. where CSL Behring is headquartered. Paul said CSL focuses its world-class research and development, high-quality manufacturing, and patient-centered management to develop and deliver innovative biotherapies and support programs – all to prevent and treat people with life-threatening medical conditions and help them live full lives.

“We’re a growing presence in China and in other emerging markets, in addition to those where we’re firmly established, such as Europe and North America. So we’re not impacted by downturns in the global economy to the extent that some businesses are.

“At the end of the day we ask ourselves, first and foremost, whether a new medicine will help patients and if so, whether in our best judgment it’s a therapy that can get approved and be brought to market.”

“We’re also fortunate to have a robust pipeline. Innovation has been in the DNA of CSL since our beginning in 1916, and continues as the core of everything we do today,” Paul added. “With an army of 1,100 R&D experts who focus on solving patients’ unmet needs every day, there are a number of ideas we’d like to pursue. But first, we always make sure that what we invest in gets done. At the end of the day we ask ourselves, first and foremost, whether a new medicine will help patients and if so, whether in our best judgment it’s a therapy that can get approved and be brought to market.”

Paul also noted the importance of “smart acquisitions” in fostering sustainable growth, with the key being the addition of genuine value to the business. In August, CSL acquired the Novartis influenza vaccine business and is working to integrate it with its bioCSL flu business, creating the second largest influenza vaccine business in the $4 billion global industry. “It’s not easy to identify good business opportunities, but having that optionality is critical to future growth. The bottom line is to make acquisitions that fit with your company’s core competencies, adjacencies & strategy.”

“The bottom line is to make acquisitions that fit with your company’s core competencies, adjacencies & strategy.”

Paul discussed several other topics which were posed to him during the CEO Roundtable, including highlighting the importance of patient engagement and early diagnosis in creating a healthier global population. “The fact that many patients go undiagnosed for years is a reminder that there is still much that needs to be done to achieve timely diagnosis and access to care,” Paul said. “For those who are diagnosed, the human connection is so critical. There are patients with a bleeding disorder who have never met another patient with the same disorder. The isolation they feel, on top of their disorder, is extremely difficult.”

Paul Perrault-Standing with Panel Members

CEO Roundtable participants (left to right): Chris Molineaux, PA Bio; Robert Radie, Egalet; Jeffrey Hatfield, Vitae Pharmaceuticals; Paul Perreault, CSL; Brian Doerner, Ballard Spahr.

One way in which CSL Behring has been working to remedy the isolation many patients may experience is the Gettin’ in the Game Junior National Championship. CSL Behring developed the program, which was the first national golf and baseball competition designed specifically for the bleeding disorders community. The program gives children with bleeding disorders an opportunity to compete in golf and baseball and provides education and information-sharing opportunities for participants and their parents/caregivers.

Paul said company has grown to more than 14,000 employees and conducts business in over 60 nations, but he never wants to lose connection with the people that rely on CSL’s therapies. “To me it’s personal,” he said. “Delivering on promises is what we do. I tell our people to work every day as if somebody’s life depends on it, because it does. I can’t think of a better motivator.”

“I tell our people to work every day as if somebody’s life depends on it, because it does. I can’t think of a better motivator.”

“No matter how large your business becomes, try to keep the organization feeling small. I still walk around the office. I’m just trying to make a difference and that’s what I want our people to do. We look for people who embrace innovation, not just in science, but in all phases of operations.

“I’ve also learned that you can’t get in people’s way and expect them to make decisions. In this way you will foster a genuine culture of trust in your organization. Make sure people feel like they’re trusted, engaged, and have a real purpose.”

In summing up his view of the biotechnology industry, Paul gave the biotech leaders this parting advice: “If you’re not innovating, you’re managing your exit.”

christopher florentz
Christopher Florentz is Manager, External Communications at CSL Behring

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