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by Firsthand | April 13, 2022

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There has never been a more vital time to be working as a consultant to pharmaceutical clients in the area of infectious disease (ID) than in the midst of the current pandemic. In an industry that understandably moves more deliberately and carefully than most, pharma operations leaders have been challenged to move expeditiously with preparations for new vaccines and therapeutics and at the same time manage workplace safety as they facilitate delivery of vaccines and therapeutics across borders and respond to the rapidly evolving government regulations of multiple countries.

Elena Perez Lopez is the head of the ID Centre of Excellence at Lifescience Dynamics. A senior consultant with deep expertise in the pharmaceutical industry and in scientific research—she has a scientific background in biology, pharmacy, biotechnology, genetics, and nutrition and holds a PhD in Pharmacy from the Complutense University of Madrid, MBA from Aliter; a BSc in Biology; MSc in Genetics; and MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences—Elena has worked with many pharmaceutical companies to provide competitive intelligence and execute market access projects focused on diverse therapeutic areas, with a specialization in ID and Respiratory.

We sat down to talk with Elena and learn more about what consultants in ID are doing to help pharma clients meet today’s challenges.

How long have you been head of the ID Center of Excellence? And is infectious disease an area that you have always worked in?

Elena: I’ve been the head of the ID Center for about 2 years and I’ve worked in ID for about 5 to 6 years.

So this time—during a pandemic—is a really interesting time to be working in ID. Has it changed how you work with clients or what clients want from you? 

Elena: Yes, we are more focused on my areas of specialization since COVID. It was always important, but manufacturing capacities for vaccines and treatments has become more important than ever.

Is that because all pharmaceutical companies are all looking for something in the vaccine area?

Elena: No, I wouldn't say that. Big players like, for example, GSK and Pfizer, have that. And then there are companies with some vaccines in the portfolio, but it's not the main focus. We have a lot of companies that are very oncology focused when it comes to immunology, and then they also have some vaccines.

My main area is Market Access, which aims to help our clients get authorization and reimbursement of their new therapies in key markets. Getting approved, getting the recommendation, and getting the reimbursement—that’s the main thing. The recommendation and reimbursement go together, but there are two different bodies that you need to go through. The recommendation is always country specific or region specific. The recommendation is based on scientific evidence. For example, in the European Medicines Agency (EMA), in the European Union (EU), the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) is making the recommendations, then the EMA says, “Okay, we accept your recommendation,” and then the European Commission will accept what the EMA says.

Is there a particular project that you're working on right now that is very exciting to you?

Elena: So right now, we work in COVID vaccines, so it's exciting. There are thousands of things happening every day related to competitive intelligence, which is a little different than market access. So I’m enjoying that the most at the moment. 

What is a typical day like for you? What are some common tasks you perform?

Elena: I manage teams and projects, communicate with clients, and look for specific solutions for complex problems. I check over reports, and other deliverables.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Elena: Develop a keen eye for detail and get a good basic understanding of the pharmaceutical market and clinical trial development. I started working in MA before I started my PhD, in 2013, and that experience has been valuable during my career.

This post was sponsored by Lifescience Dynamics.

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