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Leader Eli Lilly Canada’s Vision for the Future of Health Care

Andre Picard

Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

Dave Ricks

Chair & CEO Eli Lilly and Company

The Honourable Lisa Raitt

Co-Chair, Coalition for Better Future

Dr. Jane Barratt

Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing

Dr. Mark Lachmann

Vice-President of Medical Affairs, Sinai Health

Industry leaders believe the future of health care in Canada depends on cross-sectoral collaboration and innovation — hallmarks of health giant Eli Lilly.

2023 marks the 85th anniversary of Eli Lilly Canada, the Canadian affiliate of Eli Lilly and Company, one of the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical companies. Established via a research collaboration with scientists at the University of Toronto, Eli Lilly Canada produced the world’s first commercially available insulin in partnership with the University of Toronto. This safe, stable, and reliable supply of insulin, which became widely available in North America, was accomplished via a shining example of collaboration in biomedical science, and was life-saving for the millions of people globally living with diabetes.

This is the mission of Eli Lilly and Company — uniting caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. And while the company has a rich past and a significant list of achievements, today its leadership team is focused on looking forward, toward the future of health care and how Eli Lilly — and its collaborators — can continue to improve patients’ lives, especially in the areas of oncology, diabetes, autoimmunity, neurodegeneration, and pain.

The next era of health care 

In celebration of Eli Lilly Canada’s anniversary, the Economic Club of Canada organized a panel discussion to discuss the next era of health care in Canada. Entitled “The Next Era of Health Care in Canada: Cross-Sector Collaboration and the Power of Partnership,” the conference featured a panel moderated by health reporter and The Globe and Mail columnist Andre Picard, with four leaders from the patient advocacy, public health policy, and industry sectors as the panelists: Eli Lilly and Company Chair and CEO Dave Ricks, the Honourable Lisa Raitt (former Minister of Transport of Canada and co-chair of the Coalition for Better Future), Dr. Jane Barratt (Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing), and Dr. Mark Lachmann (Vice-President of Medical Affairs at Sinai Health).

Certainly, collaboration is a key word and remains the hallmark of Lilly.

The panel discussion addressed an array of issues and solutions that will impact Canadians’ health in a new era of care — including caring for our aging population and the increase of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among this cohort, addressing health inequities, the importance of collaboration in biomedical science and its role in advancing pharmaceutical innovation, investing in health care systems that prioritize prevention, and more.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the 8th leading cause of death in Canada, and it is the only disease with an increasing mortality rate.  In 2020, 124,000 people in Canada were diagnosed with dementia, and a total of 597,000 people were living with the disease. Nearly 62 per cent of people living with dementia in 2020 were women.

Partnerships are driving innovation 

“We have a severe structural problem,” said Dr. Lachmann. “We have a sickness care system that’s built to provide acute care, but we have an aging community requiring committed care for chronic conditions over the long term.”

“With Alzheimer’s and dementia, patients are spending 15 to 20 years in care, but our long-term care homes aren’t built for people to be there for that long,” added Raitt, whose husband has dementia.

The panel discussed solutions to current challenges, including better supporting caregivers, harnessing the power of innovative health care technology, and prioritizing multi-sectoral collaboration.

Certainly, collaboration is key and remains the hallmark of Lilly,” said Ricks. “And we can use drug technology to make a huge difference.” 

Through innovation and collaborative partnerships — just like the one that brought insulin to the world — Canada’s health care leaders are working hard to address the gaps in health care.

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