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Creative Collisions

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Creative Collisions

From nature we learn that some of the things we most value result from the clash of opposing forces. The aurora borealis is actually collisions between charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s atmosphere. Diamonds are formed after years of unrelenting heat and pressure on carbon beneath the earth’s surface. In the same way, we are in the midst of a struggle to create a new treasure of 21st-century healthcare amidst significant opposing forces.

For example, on the one side there is increased demand for better health. People are living longer and we have a greater need to treat conditions prevalent in an aging population. As emerging economies around the world strengthen, societal desire for access to healthcare increases.

Yet individuals and governments are questioning how we can afford it. In 2009, the U.S. spent more than 17 percent of its GDP on healthcare and healthcare costs continue to grow. This is not sustainable. Within the same timeframe, a number of European countries spent in the 9 to 10 percent range. However, emerging economies devote an average of 5 or 6 percent of GDP to healthcare and likely will resist reaching the double digits even as those economies grow. Cost-containment is affecting all areas of healthcare delivery.

Pressures such as these are reshaping the biopharmaceutical industry. The need to increase productivity, accelerate timelines, overcome complexity and, above all, demonstrate value is changing the landscape. At Quintiles, we describe this rapidly morphing world as the New Health, many aspects of which are debated within this special issue that we are delighted to sponsor. We start with a review of the changing demographics and the role of the empowered patient. We address the demand for value by patients, physicians, payers and policymakers. We include insights into the power of leveraging data and technology in the New Health as well as biopharma’s changing business models.

While this is a time of intense change, the opportunity is enormous for those who can navigate it successfully. As a reader of Scientific American, you may well have a personal interest in these issues. We hope you also have an opinion as true insights result from vigorous discussion. We invite you to read the articles in this special issue and share your perspectives. The sculptor Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” I believe we all have a vision of what the New Health could be. It is only with a forthright exchange of views from all sides of the debate that we can set free its true potential—healthier humans.

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