The Syneos Health Podcast Series


The Syneos Health Podcast Series dissects some of the most complex issues biopharma leaders are facing today. Our clinical and commercial experts provide time-tested solutions, as well as perspectives on the news of the day. Hosted by Jeff Stewart, a long-time industry consultant who has advised biopharma leaders on licensing, mergers and acquisitions, pricing and market access, commercialization and go-to-market strategies, each episode explores the challenges and considerations involved with bringing biopharmaceuticals to the market.



Recent Episodes: 


Episode 026The Health Trend Ten - Clinical Perspective

November 27, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Leigh Householder, Nick Kenny



As we head toward the close of the year, we are already looking to see what 2019 has in store. Drawing on the knowledge and experience of more than 200 leaders and experts who work on the front lines of healthcare, we identified 10 critical shifts that will change how we test and commercialize novel new therapies and innovations in the years ahead.  

In our last episode, we heard about some of the commercial insights from the Health Trend Ten. Today, Leigh Householder,  EVP / Managing Director, Insights and Innovation, and Nick Kenny, Chief Scientific Officer at Syneos Health, discuss key clinical trends that will impact the industry going into 2019 – including the “trials everywhere” model, the power of digital innovation, China’s disruptive impact and the penultimate importance of data.   

Listen to part one of our Health Trend Ten series – the commercial perspective – here



Episode 025: The Health Trend Ten - Commercial Perspective

November 27, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Leigh Householder, Bryan Distefano



As we head toward the close of the year, we are already looking to see what 2019 has in store. Drawing on the knowledge and experience of more than 200 leaders and experts who work on the front lines of healthcare, we identified 10 critical shifts that will change how we test and commercialize novel new therapies and innovations in the years ahead.

In this first of two episodes on the Health Trend Ten, Leigh Householder,  EVP / Managing Director, Insights and Innovation, and Bryan Distefano, EVP, Sales, Selling Solutions at Syneos Health, discuss key commercial trends that will impact the industry going into 2019 – including the precarious state of the healthcare practitioner, a rewiring of launch (and how we invest), the sales force of the future, and the potential (inevitable?) shift of the “M” in CMO.  

Listen to part two of our Health Trend Ten series – the clinical perspective – here



Episode 024Content that Clicks

October 31, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Matthew Snodgrass, Michael Pearlman



In our increasingly digital world, it was only a matter of time before search and social marketing would start to take on an important role in clinical trial patient recruitment. But with shaken trust in data security combined with sensitivities around medical data privacy, will potential patients click?

Matthew Snodgrass and Michael Pearlman from the Syneos Health Digital & Social Strategy team discuss the results of a survey of potential clinical trial participants on their perceptions and opinions of online channels as a means for receiving clinical trial information - and the many opportunities this channel offers for patients and sponsors alike.



Episode 023: The Clinical Trial Marathon, at a Sprint

October 3, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Kellie Malloy, Eleanore Doyle



Clinical trials are arguably the largest investment a biopharma company makes in bringing a product to market - in dollars, and time. Driving the stakes higher: the patient is waiting. How can we improve the process, realize shorter and more efficient trials, and ultimately get the therapy to that patient faster?

Syneos Health Clinical Solutions experts Kellie Malloy, Executive Vice President and General Manager and Eleanore Doyle, Senior Vice President, Strategic Resourcing, share their thoughts on the current state of and future opportunities for clinical trials – including the impact and potential of technology, improvements in recruitment and enrollment… and keeping the human element in mind throughout.



Episode 022: Spending for Launch Success

September 19, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Sachin Purwar



When it comes to investing in the launch of your biopharma product, how much is too much?  Is there such a thing as too little? Director Sachin Purwar and his colleagues from the Commercial Strategy & Planning practice of Syneos Health Consulting set out to answer these questions - and found the "sweet spot" for launch spending that could mean the difference between success and failure.

The team's review of 19 emerging biopharma company launches was recently published in IN VIVO. In this episode, Sachin discusses with host Jeff Stewart special considerations, pitfalls to avoid, and the implications of spend on the potential for a new product to fly - or flop - in its first year out of the gate.



Episode 021: The Sales Force Training (R)evolution

September 5, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Celeste Mosby



Biopharmaceutical sales forces have changed dramatically over the past decade.  And not just the sales forces - the industry, customers, technology and more have all undergone tremendous evolution. As a result, the way we train sales forces and other customer-facing roles has and will have to adapt accordingly.

Celeste Mosby, Vice President of Learning Design in the Syneos Health Learning Solutions group, has seen a lot of this change and describes what can be considered a revolution in the development of training approaches that are efficient and effective, intuitive and immersive. In this episode, Mosby discusses some of the newer learning methods being implemented, what selling skills are key in the new paradigm, the growing importance of clinical knowledge and more.



Episode 020:  A Syneos Health Short - 21st Century Cures

July 9, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart



The 21st Century Cures Act was passed at the end of 2016 in an effort to accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new therapies. But what's in it? And what does it mean for biopharma companies?

In this first "Syneos Health Short" episode, Jeff Stewart reviews the top ten things you need to know about 21st Century Cures - and how one word changed everything.



Episode 019: A Decade of Dealmakers' Intentions

June 6, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Neel Patel, Sachin Purwar



The last decade has seen both depressing lows and astounding highs in biopharmaceutical dealmaking activity. Different therapeutic areas have fallen in and out of favor along with the pace of innovation and there has been a sustained focus on the next "hot spot" with high commercial value and the potential to provide solid returns for stakeholders. But certain trends have been persistent. What has changed? What has remained the same?

Neel Patel, Managing Director and Sachin Purwar, Director at Syneos Health Consulting discuss the last ten years of dealmaking and take a look forward based on the results of our 10th annual Dealmakers' Intentions Study - a report that takes the pulse of pharmaceutical executives around their expectations for licensing and acquisitions in the upcoming year.



Episode 018: Partnering with a CRO

May 23, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Judy Swilley



A relationship with a Contract Research Organization (CRO) is just like any other - to succeed, it requires communication, alignment on goals, respect, and ultimately, trust between two partners. In this episode, Judy Swilley, Executive Vice President and Head of Strategic Alliance Management at Syneos Health, talks about the value a CRO brings to the table, the importance of an engaged executive team on the sponsor side, and best practices for working together.



Episode 016: Payer Power, Part 2 

April 25, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Keith Kelly



Eighteen months is an eternity in the payer world.

Previously on The Syneos Health Podcast (Episode 003: Payer Power), we discussed the payer's rise in influence in the pharmaceutical industry. Today, we're seeing the impact of strategies payers were starting to bring to the marketplace 18-months-to-two-years ago, particularly on the pharmacy benefit side.

Keith Kelly, Managing Director, Global Access Solutions for Syneos Health Consulting, discusses key themes from the Express Scripts Drug Trend Report 2016, impact of payer controls on pharmacy benefit versus medical benefit products, how this plays out based on therapeutic area and ultimately, the challenges inherent in "bending the cost curve" for the average patient.



Episode 015: ICER - Friend or Foe?

March 14, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Leslie Isenegger



ICER - the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review - was established as an independent organization to examine the value of pharmaceuticals across disease categories. "But value is in the eye of the beholder," says Leslie Isenegger, principal strategist for Syneos Health Communications Reputation and Risk Management Practice, and ICER's analysis is only one piece of a very complicated puzzle. How should it fit within the broader conversation?

To try and answer this question, Isenegger provides a primer of sorts on ICER, exploring how the organization works to determine cost effectiveness and comparative effectiveness of therapies, the nature of its relationships with payers and pharma companies, the unique challenge of assessing value of orphan drugs, the growing role of the patient in value discussions and more.



Episode 014: MA-"Squared": Medical Affairs Meets Market Access

March 07, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Suma Ramadas, Susan Suponcic



In Episode 012: Medical Affairs from Zero, Suma Ramadas talked about the inception and growing value of the Medical Affairs function. Today, in part two of our Medical Affairs Transformation series, Suma is joined by Susan Suponcic, Managing Director and head of the Pricing & Market Access practice of Syneos Health Consulting to discuss the importance of collaboration between the Medical Affairs and Market Access functions in developing a consistent and clear medical narrative.



Episode 013: Artificial Intelligence for Authentic Engagement

February 13, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Duncan Arbour



Since Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey introduced the prospect of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with the spaceship computer system HAL, the world has had a rollercoaster relationship with the idea - from hope to hype, and everywhere in between. Have we "unleashed the demon" with AI, or does the potential of deep learning and machine learning for improving health outcomes far outweigh the fear factor? Duncan Arbour, Senior Vice President, Innovation with Syneos Health Communications, takes us on a fascinating journey through the progression of AI, its application in healthcare and touching on its potential impact on biopharma companies, healthcare providers, investors and the industry as a whole.

But what about the perspective of the patient - up till now, the missing component in healthcare's AI conversation? To answer this question, Arbour shares the findings from a new Syneos Health report, Artificial Intelligence for Authentic Engagement: Patient Perspectives on Healthcare's Evolving AI Conversation, based on a survey of 800 patients regarding their expectations and concerns around the potential role of AI in diagnosis, treatment and support in their day-to-day lives.



Episode 012: Medical Affairs from Zero

February 06, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Suma Ramadas



Imagine two products that are very similar. One became one of the most successful launches the organization ever had; the other one was a flop. The main difference between the two? Medical Affairs.

There was a time - not all that long ago - when the Medical Affairs function did not exist. Today, the Medical Affairs organization is critical to a successful product launch, providing foresight into understanding who all of the stakeholders are and all of their evidentiary needs: getting the right evidence at the right time, communicated in the right way, to the right audience.

Suma Ramadas, Managing Director in the Medical Practice Area at Syneos Health Consulting, discusses with host Jeff Stewart the inception of what we know today as Medical Affairs, its evolution to current state - and what needs to happen now in order for Medical Affairs to transform into the powerhouse function of tomorrow.



Episode 011: Naming, Part 2 - The Drug

January 08, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Brittany Scott



As we learned in our previous episode, naming a company is not something you can do by just “winging it.” The same holds true when it comes to naming a drug – especially in a podcast episode under 30 minutes.

In Part 2 of our naming series, Addison Whitney Creative Director Brittany Scott explains the ins and outs of drug naming, addresses a possible conspiracy theory and runs host Jeff Stewart through the process in a quick (and frustrating) game of “Name That Drug.”



Episode 010: Naming, Part 1 - The Pharma Company

January 08, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Kristen Spensieri, Joe Daley



What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually, despite what Shakespeare says. When it comes to a merger, this can be even more important. With research showing that up to 80% of mergers fail – and one major reason being clashing corporate cultures during post-merger integration – choosing a name and brand that the entire organization can get behind is critical to success.

In this episode, listen to Kristen Spensieri of Syneos Health and Joe Daley of Syneos Health branding firm Addison Whitney discuss how the company is walking the talk – rebranding its own organization after the 2017 merger of INC Research and inVentiv Health, and how these principles can be applied to any company going through a rebrand.



Episode 009: Rare Diseases

February 26, 2018 | Jeffrey Stewart, Judith Ng-Cashin



While regulatory changes have made the path to approval easier for rare disease therapies, it is by no means easy - and Judith Ng-Cashin, MD, Chief Scientific Officer of Syneos Health, warns developers getting into the market to do so with eyes wide open.

Host Jeff Stewart caught up with Dr. Ng-Cashin at a recent conference to discuss her perspective on the opportunities and challenges inherent in bringing a rare disease therapy to market, how the definition of value varies across stakeholders and why true patient engagement is critical to success.

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