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Genentech CEO Alexander Hardy: COVID-19 means being ‘fast and flexible’

April 7, 2021, 10:30 AM UTC

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Good morning.

One of the greatest stories of 2020, as I’ve mentioned here before, is the amazing renewal of the bio-pharma industry. “The pandemic sent a lot of challenges our way,” Genentech CEO Alexander Hardy said in this week’s episode of our podcast Leadership Next, “but there were also these really inspiring moments, as you saw the industry coming together” to defeat the virus. As an example, Genentech “decided to give over a large proportion of our manufacturing capacity to manufacturing one of our biggest competitor’s monoclonal antibodies.” (That’s Regeneron.) “It’s a very deep partnership.”

Like other Big Pharma CEOs, Hardy says the virus “required us to be very innovative, fast and flexible. Innovative has always been a requirement for Genentech. Fast and flexible? Not so much.”

The question he and others in the industry are now asking is this: How do they maintain that level of speed, flexibility, collaboration and innovation, to attack other great health care challenges. Can the same skills that were used to develop a vaccine in record time now be turned to addressing cancer or Alzheimers? Can the nationwide rollout of vaccines provide a model for ensuring all health care treatments are more equitably available in the future?

You can hear Hardy’s thoughts on that challenge by listening to the podcast on Apple or Spotify.

And if you are interested in going deeper, you may want to sign up for Fortune Brainstorm Health, which is being held virtually this year on April 27 and 28.  CEOs speaking include Greg Adams of Kaiser Permanente, Stephane Bancel of Moderna, Gail Boudreaux of Anthem, Albert Bourla of Pfizer, Robert Ford of Abbott, Mike Kaufmann of Cardinal Health, Karen Lynch of CVS, Julie Sweet of Accenture, Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe, and Eric Yuan of Zoom.  (Is there anyone we missed?)  Wynton Marsalis and Danny Meyer also will be on the agenda. Sign up here.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.