Paul Navarre is in what some might consider the catbird seat. Not only is he the US CEO of a company that has enjoyed a rapid annual growth rate for the last 20 years, he also enjoys the benefits of heading up a privately-held enterprise. This gives Ferring the ability to do what they think is right, taking the long view rather than responding to shareholder pressure for quarterly gains.
It also affords Paul the luxury of speaking his mind. He says that “Healthcare has partially lost its humanity.” He cites many influences on the healthcare industry: industrialization, robotization, price hikes, scandals, Wall Street pressure and more. On the treatment side, we see HCPs spending a mere eight minutes per patient, and devoting 50% of their time to digital tasks.
How to counteract the impact of these factors? He offered a plan that begins with “caring for the patient first.”
He noted what he called “empathetic care,” a relative of the now-ubiquitous term “patient centricity.” Paying attention to the concerns of the patient – often beyond the symptoms of a condition itself – has numerous benefits that help deliver better care and bring down costs for all participants. It reduces stress and optimizes patient experience, leading to more efficient use of resources. In diabetics, for instance, patients experience 42% fewer re-admissions when they experience empathetic care. Paul stressed that “Technology need not de-humanize healthcare. In fact, technology offers great opportunities to increase empathetic care.”
Some of the factors he cited in bringing humanity back to healthcare:
- Leveraging technology to enhance patient experience by helping HCPs to connect with patients, treat them and reinforce adherence. This would involve an ecosystem in which the patients, physicians, pharmacists, pharma companies, payors and other healthcare professionals are efficiently connected
- Caring for the patient first
- Balancing short- and long-term concerns
- Focusing on employees to create an engaged organization
“Technology offers great opportunities to increase empathetic care.”
Empathy, in the form of employee engagement, also translates to improved results in the workplace. It has been linked to a 16% increase in profitability, 37% less absenteeism, 18% greater productivity and a substantial 65% lower turnover – a meaningful statistic in an industry that spends millions on positions that often stay open for months, recruitment, and re-training, as we have reported in these pages.
Sharing three similar mission statements from different pharmaceutical companies, Paul noted the agreement among them on the centrality of saving and improving the quality of patient lives. He said the spate of headlines about unreasonable price hikes and corporate restructurings leads to the question “Are pharmaceutical companies betraying their values?” To redress this, he called on companies to seek a better balance between short-term performance needs and the long-term needs of patients and employees.
Paul Navarre began his career in pharma at Procter and Gamble in 1991, holding positions in France, the U.S., Switzerland, Italy and the UK. He led commercial and marketing organizations in several countries and across several disease areas (cardiovascular, osteoporosis, gastroenterology). He moved to Allergan in 2007. There he served as General Manager in France, headed up the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) business unit, was both VP and President of Ophthalmology and Neurosciences EMEA, and eventually became EVP and President of Allergan International. He managed a $3 billion specialty care business covering dermatology, ophthalmology, urology and neurosciences.
In June of 2017, he accepted the position as CEO of Ferring Holding Inc. USA. Paul was attracted to Ferring because of its unique corporate personality. “People come first at Ferring. That’s the philosophy that drives the company, from the therapeutic products we develop to the employees we hire. We strive to help improve people’s lives and you can see this in everything we do,” he says. “Ferring supports its employees, communities, HCPs and, of course, patients in extraordinary ways.”
Through its “Living the Philosophy program” Ferring makes 12,000 paid hours available each year for employees to volunteer in their communities. The Ferring Scholarship Program helps finance higher education for employees’ children, and the company provides free Ferring products to employees participating in its health plan. Ferring’s $25,000 employee adoption benefit earned it recognition as the “Best Adoption-Friendly Workplace” by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 2016.
The company is an active donator to disaster relief around the world, and has given over $15 million to preserve the fertility of patients undergoing cancer treatment. Ferring also contributes significantly to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Last year Ferring committed $10 million to March of Dimes to expand research needed to end preterm birth, which accounts for 1.1 million infant deaths annually. Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the leading direct cause of maternal mortality worldwide. Ferring is collaborating with MSD for Mothers and the World Health Organization on a clinical trial for a PPH treatment that could save hundreds of thousands of lives and improve the quality of life of millions of women in low in lower income countries.
A biopharmaceutical company, Ferring identifies, develops, manufactures and markets innovative products in reproductive health, women’s health, urology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and orthopedics. With more than 6000 employees, it has operations in 60 countries around the world and markets its products in 110.
Paul works at their sprawling 25- acre campus in Parsippany, NJ, a fully-integrated pharmaceutical facility that includes a state-of- the-art manufacturing suite, next-generation product development laboratories, a fully equipped education and training conference center, and administrative offices. (As a side benefit, it lured a top New York chef to run its restaurant.)
“I see [many] companies adopting practices that lead the industry in a direction of greater humanity.”
One of the issues that occupies Paul’s time and energy these days is the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S. “In the U.S. we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world,” he said. Ferring is working with patient organizations to raise awareness of this startling reality and advocating for greater study of the causes of the problem.
Ferring is taking steps to expand its portfolio with breakthrough products. The company recently acquired Rebiotix Inc., and its RBX2660, a non-antibiotic treatment, in Phase 3 development. RBX2660 has received FDA Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, and Orphan Drug Designation for the prevention of recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI). CDI is one of the most common healthcare-associated infections in the US, affecting more than 500,000 people and causing approximately 29,000 deaths each year. “RBX2660 has the potential to be the first human microbiome product approved anywhere in the world,” said Paul
“I couldn’t be more proud of the work Ferring is doing today, and I’m honored to have arrived at this place in my career,” says Paul. “I also see other companies adopting practices that lead the industry in a direction of greater humanity. We’re all working to make this trend grow as quickly as possible.”