"Our two companies have already collaborated verysuccessfully on earlier projects," notes Olivier Loeillot, general manager ofEnterprise Solutions at GE Healthcare Life Sciences. "The success of theseprojects led us to form a strategic alliance in this area, where there is aneed to improve the supply of key biopharmaceuticals in emerging nations. Thealliance is a framework which enables us to bring to customers an integrated,turnkey approach for the construction of facilities for the manufacture ofvaccines, biopharmaceuticals and insulin."
The alliance between the two companies aligns with GE'sHealthymagination initiative, which focuses on reducing cost, increasing accessand improving quality in healthcare.
Worldwide demand for vaccines, insulin and otherbiopharmaceuticals such as antibodies to treat cancer and rheumatoid arthritisis increasing dramatically, driven by the global aging population, risingobesity levels and the global effort to reduce the incidence ofvaccine-preventable diseases. Many countries have limited capabilities for themanufacture of these products, resulting in considerable unmet health needs.According to the International Diabetes Federation, 366 million people haddiabetes in 2011, an incidence predicted to rise to 552 million by 2030. Eightypercent of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries, whereinsulin can be unaffordable and difficult to acquire. On vaccination, the GatesFoundation estimates that worldwide, 21 percent of children do not have accessto needed vaccines and that annually, 2.4 million children die from preventablediseases despite the availability of effective vaccines. The introduction oflocal "in country-for country" flexible manufacturing capabilities would helpovercome this critical health gap.
Emphasizing Healthymagination's focus on reducing cost,increasing access and improving healthcare, Loeillot cites several examples ofGE's actions in this area.
"Today, we're developing new technologies and services toimprove access to healthcare in developing markets. Through reverseinnovation—a new model of product development that empowers local teams todevelop technologies in their country, for their country—we can help addresslocal needs and enable access to technology where it may never have been availablebefore. Examples include the $500 MACi cardiology device for India, whichallows physicians to give scans for the cost of a bottle of water, as well asthe Brivo CT for China, which brings lower-cost CT technology to hospitals thatweren't able to afford it before. Reverse innovation is bringing technology tomany people for the first time and opening up new markets for GE along the way.Limited access to trained medical practitioners remains a challenge across theglobe. WHO estimates that approximately 4.2 million additional health workersare needed to ensure universal access to basic medical care. To address thisshortage, we're designing products with simpler user interfaces that can beoperated by midwives, paramedics and other community health workers—such as alow-cost, extremely simple prenatal ultrasound that requires minimal technicaltraining to use, making a life-saving technology available to more women inmarkets like Africa, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
"We are not only working in developing markets. In the U.K.,U.S. and Japan," he notes, "we are developing technologies to help elderlypeople and people with chronic diseases like COPD live healthier and moreindependent lives for longer. These technologies help healthcare systems byhelping to keep the elderly out of managed care for longer, and by helping tokeep patients with chronic diseases out of hospital, managing their conditionat home."
The global life-science business is one of four key businesssectors for M+W, "showing an excellent development in America, Asia (includingMiddle East) and Europe (including Eastern Europe)," says Dr. Tobias Lucke, themanaging director of M+W Process Industries, specializing in life-sciencesolutions.
"Our global capabilities and strong track record over morethan 18 years of delivering high-technology facilities for the biotechnologyindustry is a great fit with the world-class bioprocessing expertise of GEHealthcare," he adds.