Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Pfizer BD Chief Peck Talks Consumer Health

Checking in from the Burrill Consumer Digital Health conference near San Francisco this week: Pfizer's new head of worldwide business development Kristin Peck (pictured) was on a panel Monday, which piqued our curiosity: Is this a signal from Pfizer (also a sponsor of the show) that it doesn't want to be left off the Pharma 3.0 map?

You might remember that at our PSO conference in February, Ernst & Young's Carolyn Buck-Luce talked up her firm's vision of Pharma 3.0, complete with a Sims-ish schema of a happy, busy neighborhood of interlinked businesses and organizations. Or, as we're all called these days, "stakeholders."

Microsoft was there. Patient organizations, hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies were there. Drug companies were not there.

Which, perhaps, is why Peck was there, on stage in a hotel under the SFO flight path, before the forever-pink-shirted Steve Burrill, talking about the so-called Pharma 3.0 world and Pfizer's place in it. Through a spokeswoman, Peck declined an interview, so we had to gather our first impressions of her from the fifth row of the ballroom.

Here's one: If Pfizer does deals as fast as Peck talks, there will be little rest for those who write about them. Peck also had a bushelful to say on every topic of the panel, which thankfully was structured as a conversation, not a series of PowerPoint talks. A few of her points:

* The health care reform bill wasn't comprehensive. It was just a step to improve Americans' access to health care, but it doesn't address how to reorganize care or reduce costs.

* Reform was only one step, but adding 30-million-plus Americans to the ranks of the insured might be enough of a shock to the system to prod innovation. The big question: Will the millions of new customers force doctors to embrace innovative changes? Doctors are "a large part of the problem" if they're not driving the change, she said. When a top pharma exec accuses another group of being slow to change, you can't help but raise an eyebrow and jot in the notebook "pot-kettle-black." That said, Peck isn't a pharma lifer. She joined Pfizer in 2004 after a consulting career -- and not just on pharma issues. She has real estate and financial services on her resume, too. In other words, a big change from her predecessor, Bill Ringo, who was at Pfizer only a couple years after nearly three decades at Eli Lilly.

* When fellow panelist and Wellpoint chief technology officer Carl Dumont mentioned an online tool available to Wellpoint customers to help them make health-care decisions, Peck said that if patients can't get access to the tool at the point-of-care -- when doctors are advising (or telling) them what kind of procedures they need -- what good will it do?

* Concentric rings of "community" will drive a lot of consumer adoption of health-related technology. When a person receives a disease diagnosis, for example, which community will he or she share it with? Family? Friends? Bosses and workmates? Other health care providers? How about yoga teachers, acupuncturists, and therapists?

We're watching Pfizer keenly post-Wyeth absorption to see how much of its business development shifts from traditional M&A and licensing to the network of providers, tech firms, patient advocates, and others making patient (or, if you prefer, "consumer") connections. One such deal Pfizer recently struck was with Keas, a provider of online care-plan templates.

No doubt we'll continue to have our hands full with Pfizer's takeovers, buyouts, and Phase II license deals ornamented with upfronts and milestones, but Peck's presence at today's conference could mean we'll soon see a lot more diversity among its BD targets.

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