Mentor Spotlight: Kathy Megyery (Health Sciences)

Editor’s Note: At the McGill Dobson Cup 2017, we got the chance to interview Kathy Megyery, one of the judges for the Health Sciences Track.

Kathy Megyery is partner at Pivot responsible for the Pharma & Payers practice. She specializes in strategy, market access and policy design for the healthcare and life sciences sectors with over 25 years-experience both as a consultant and a pharmaceutical industry executive.

During her tenure at Sanofi, she successfully spearheaded strategic initiatives to capture opportunities around the emergence of specialty pharma, the increased focus on wellness and prevention as well as the growing role of payers. During the past year, she developed the payer strategy to support the commercial launch of a new vaccine. Kathy holds an MBA from McGill University and a Master’s degree in Economics from Concordia University.

On the value of education for entrepreneurs & the McGill Dobson Cup

I think regardless of whether you want to be an entrepreneur or not, education is important. There are few other places where you’re exposed to big ideas, learn how to think creatively – both of which are crucial. I don’t think you necessarily know right at the beginning of your studies whether you will be an entrepreneur or something else. Being exposed to other smart people and discussing ideas are things that are relevant for everyone.

In my family, education is highly valued. It’s really helped me guide and cultivate my curiosity – I mean just look at what I’m doing right now: I’m not here at the Dobson Cup as an investor, yet I’m grateful for the opportunity to see and judge the pitches. Why? Simply because it’s interesting to me.  Going through an educational process can definitely be an important element to feed that curiosity.

I found the McGill Dobson Cup incredibly refreshing.  The creativity, passion and commitment of the teams left me very energized.  I heard several proposals that address providing better, more accessible health care and as such, provide value to patients, the healthcare system and society overall.

With this Dengue vaccine, Sanofi decided to flip the model on its head and target the people who really needed it first.

On being a part of the team that developed a Dengue vaccine and how they flipped the traditional business model on its head

Sanofi Pasteur, the company I worked for previously, developed the first vaccine against dengue. Dengue, believe it or not, affects 50% of the world’s population. It’s very endemic in emerging countries – parts of Latin America, Africa, Asia Pacific. Pharmaceutical companies typically market vaccines to richer countries first – basically selling to to business people and tourists that are traveling to recoup their money, and then taking it to the poorer countries. With this Dengue vaccine, Sanofi decided to flip the model on its head and target the people who really needed it first. Their first market was the Philippines, and then Brazil. In other words, we decided to help people first, and then figure out the business model after.

It was a 15 year process, and the manufacturing plant was built at risk – meaning the company took the risk of building the plant even before we knew that the authorities would approve the vaccine.

In terms of results, 2 dimensions are important to look at: mortality, and hospitalizations. I’m proud to say it was very effective in reducing both deaths and hospitalization rates, which is important for these developing countries that don’t have a lot of money to spend on healthcare.


Where the health industry is headed next

I think we’re really heading towards a place where “The 4 P’s of medicine” will really begin to become the focus. They are: predictive, personalized, participatory, and preventive.

Gene sequencing and rapidly advancing medical technology are allowing us to make some major changes in the way people are treated. We’re moving towards preventing people from getting sick in the first place, and if they do get sick, finding the most appropriate, targeted, treatments because that’s the only way to keep the health care system sustainable – you can’t just send everyone to the hospital.

Today we pay for drugs, not health outcomes. But this unit-based pricing model is too one dimensional for the evolving market needs.

Her next projects

At Pivot Strategic Transformation, I am working on a number of initiatives related to tying payment for healthcare to value and not just volume.  By way of example, in the area of pharmaceuticals, this requires rethinking the way we pay for drugs.

Today we pay for drugs, not health outcomes. But this unit-based pricing model is too one dimensional for the evolving market needs.  Given the high cost of specialty medicines, the rapid growth of this segment is challenging the sustainability of the current model of paying for medicines.

This is impacting the entire healthcare ecosystem.

For pharmaceutical companies, value-based agreements provides a game-changing opportunity as they are increasingly facing price pressures based on discounts and rebates not linked to the value of the product. By tying the price of drugs to agreed-upon outcomes, pharma companies will be able to demonstrate the full benefits of their products.  Private payers want to secure more competitive prices for their clients.  And finally, it is an opportunity for intermediaries to leverage data analytics capabilities as data is the cornerstone of value-based reimbursement.

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Mo Akif

Mo Akif

The Editor-in-Chief of the McGill Dobson Chronicles. Never having started a lemonade stand as a child and tired of reading blog posts about entrepreneurship without actually doing anything, he was on the verge of giving up and joining a pyramid scheme. Luckily the McGill Dobson Centre decided to adopt him, allowing him to get a closer look at what it takes to build something valuable.