The two fundamental pillars of medical progress are incremental therapeutic improvements and scientific breakthroughs. The incremental improvements are essential to raising the quality of life for all patients, but we also need the breakthroughs. There are so many diseases and conditions that currently have no treatment, and when the first safe and effective therapy is discovered it can give millions of patients hope for the future. Fortunately, there’s research being done right here in Canada that has led to major breakthroughs in complicated and life-threatening diseases.
One company leading this breakthrough research is Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), which has roots in Canada going back nearly a century. In that time, it has become a leader in the biopharmaceutical industry, with a mission of helping patients prevail over serious disease.
“Globally, and at home in Canada, we’re focused on conducting research with transformational potential in areas where there’s a significant need for more options,” says Al Reba, General Manager of BMS Canada. “We have a history of these scientific breakthroughs. We’ve done it in HIV. We’ve done it in hepatitis C. We’ve done it in cardiovascular disease. And we’ve done it in immuno-oncology.”
Globally, and at home in Canada, we’re focused on conducting research with transformational potential in areas where there’s a significant need for more options.Al Reba, General Manager of BMS Canada
Reaching upwards,without resting on laurels
Today, BMS has its eyes on a new horizon. As an example, it’s pioneering innovative treatments involving chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, a process in which cells are removed from a patient’s body, reprogrammed in a lab, and then returned to the patient for a personalized attack on cancer. “By advancing cutting-edge technologies like these, we’re helping Canadians live longer, healthier lives,” says Reba.
It’s critical that we foster an environment where next-generation research like this can continue to happen within our borders. Research is a global collaboration, but it provides a tangible and practical benefit to Canadians when it happens domestically. “We have a large and robust program here in Canada, including 125 studies with close to 4,000 patients this year alone,” says Reba. “This gives Canadians the opportunity to have access to medicines early in the process, which means patients have hope for new and effective treatments that could otherwise take years.”
BMS recently acquired the pharmaceutical company Celgene, which has injected a booster shot of innovation and energy into its product portfolio. Reba lauds Celgene’s corporate culture as a perfect complement to BMS, reinforcing its commitment to a patient-first approach. “The patients are the inspiration for everything we do,” he says. “We have an internal campaign called Who Are You Working For that highlights individual patientstories and reminds us, each and every day, why our work is so important.”