Despite years of progress in diagnosis, treatment and prevention, cardiovascular disease remains the primary cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. To curb the pandemic of cardiovascular disease and alleviate its burden on people and society, we must enhance cooperation between the private and public healthcare sector and stimulate the development and adoption of innovative treatments and solutions.
The healthcare landscape in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, tackling cardiovascular disease has never been more important as the population above the age of 60 continues to be on the rise. Under the visionary leadership of HH King Salman bin Abdulaziz and HH Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program 2020 (NTP) is on the right track to improving the quality of healthcare services and facilities across the Kingdom. A firm supporter of the Kingdom’s Healthcare Transformation Strategy, Amgen is working in tandem with key stakeholders to build an ecosystem for locally generated data, offering innovative solutions to support patients, caregivers and HCPs in Saudi Arabia’s rapidly evolving healthcare sector. We are actively contributing to generating local data including conducting studies on cost efficiency and examining the burden that cardiovascular disease has on the local economy.
Having entered the Saudi market a decade ago, Amgen has since grown its presence and footprint in the Kingdom. In 2020, we established Amgen Saudi Limited in our commitment to invest in the Middle East’s largest market. We have since scaled up our operations and increased the recruitment of bright Saudi nationals to support our trajectory to localise innovative healthcare solutions in Saudi Arabia. We are deeply committed to supporting communities in providing effective, accessible and life-altering therapies for cardiovascular disease. In Saudi Arabia, we believe in investing in local infrastructure to enhance health systems and support Saudi Arabia and Vision 2030. More than just a pharmaceutical company, Amgen is a partner, supporting patients and caregivers, while driving our local prevention efforts for a healthier next generation which in turn, can and will lead to enhanced productivity for the economy.
We are increasing our investment in generating local evidence that can support key healthcare decisions. In our commitment to unlocking the potential of biology for cardiovascular disease patients, we are working closely with various stakeholders to curb the pandemic of cardiovascular disease and in our capacity as a local affiliate, we expect to invest more than 300 million SAR in Saudi Arabia in the next five years.
Public-private collaboration is instrumental to tackling the cardiovascular disease in Saudi Arabia. At Amgen, we place our efforts in investigating and tackling the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the Kingdom working closely with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, the Ministry of Health, Saudi Health Council as well as a host of academic and tertiary care organisations. It is important that we play an active role in supporting the full healthcare ecosystem and evaluate each element of cardiac care, collaboratively.
Most recently, Amgen Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Saudi Health Council, initiating a series of awareness and health education programs for patients with heart disease and cholesterol. The partnership effectively established a number of specialised training programmes for cardiac centre nursing staff as well as advanced training programmes for cardiologists and primary care physicians across the three levels of prevention. Working closely with the Saudi Health Council, we are developing new guidelines for cardiac health care in accordance with international best practices, including launching educational platforms and awareness programmes for physicians, nurses and patients alike with a view to positively contribute to the development of health services in the Kingdom.
Understanding the fundamental biological mechanisms of cardiovascular disease is a defining feature of Amgen’s discovery research efforts—and a major contributor to the development of our local pipeline of potential new medicines. Amgen’s “biology first” approach permits our scientists to first explore the complex molecular pathways of disease before determining what type of medicine, or modality, is most likely to deliver optimal efficacy and safety. With the advances in human genetics, we continue to shed new light on the molecular roots of cardiovascular disease and are always exploring new approaches to identifying and validating cardiovascular disease targets.
At Amgen, we are determined to provide accessible and effective therapies for the most prevalent health challenges in Saudi Arabia. We are always in the pursuit of launching innovative medicine and biosimilars and have launched several innovative molecules across cardiovascular disease, women’s bone health, cholesterol management, kidney diseases, immunology, oncology and haematology. In 2020, we entered into a 10-year partnership with Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances Corporation (SPIMACO), with a view to offer an affordable molecule to treat immunology patients in Saudi Arabia while driving the localisation of the pharmaceutical industry in the Kingdom. Over the course of the next few months, we will be introducing a first in class molecule for lung cancer mutation. This is a veritable breakthrough for Amgen as lung cancer mutation has been undruggable for the past four decades.
Data and digitisation
Amgen is paving the way for the healthcare sector’s digital transformation and reshaping how we interact with health professionals. We have established a digital model for streamlining the way that decisions are made about treatment plans and health outcomes. We are increasing our investments in digital healthcare tools as well as developing programmes that use machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to enhance the patient journey from start to finish.
In our efforts to enhance the patient care pathway, we conduct real-world evidence studies that generate local insights that allow us to develop data-driven programmes to improve the patient journey. This data is also used to provide early access to Amgen’s innovative medicines, having successful addressed high unmet medical needs in the fields of lipid management, bone metastases and solid tumours, including lung and colon.
Whilst the Saudi healthcare system has evolved, access to healthcare and innovative medicines remains a lengthy and complex process. I have seen first-hand the transformative power of collaboration, and I am confident that in working alongside key stakeholders in Saudi Arabia, Amgen can lead the way to curbing the pandemic of cardiovascular disease in the Kingdom.
References available on request
This article appears in the latest issue of Omnia Health Magazine. Read the full issue online today.