Life is our purpose and the core of everything we do at Roche. Each day, our bold science, breakthrough medicines and innovative diagnostic solutions improve the lives of countless people worldwide. This is our 125-year legacy. It is also our promising future.
On our 125-year anniversary, we see every reason to celebrate, because life is about celebration – whether creating new memories that resonate for years or pausing to reflect on the small precious moments of our past.
This year, we celebrate our history, our culture and the enduring purpose that guides Roche’s next 125 years toward a sustainable, healthy future.
At Roche, we work towards a purpose – doing now what patients need next. No matter which division, country or business area we work in, ultimately we know that the work we do can improve the lives of people in society, especially the lives of a patient.
F. Hoffmann-La Roche & Co. was founded at a time when the industrial revolution was changing the face of Europe. On October 1, 1896, at the age of 28, Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche launched his company as the successor company to Hoffmann, Traub & Co in Basel, Switzerland. He was among the first to recognise that the industrial manufacture of medicines would be a major advance in the fight against disease. Since then, Roche has grown into one of the world’s leading healthcare companies. More than a century has passed since the search for ways to improve disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment began. The company aims not only to invent innovative drugs, but also to improve access to them for patients. More than 30 medicines created by Roche are included in the list of essential medicines provided by the World Health Organization, including life-saving antibiotics, anti-malarial, and oncological drugs. For the 12th year in a row, Roche is recognized as one of the most sustainable companies in the pharmaceutical industry according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).
Roche is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. It is represented in more than 100 countries around the world. As of 2020, the company employs more than 100,000 people. In 2020, Roche invested 12.2 billion Swiss Francs in research and development. Genetech is a member of the Roche Group in the United States, and Roche is also a major shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical Japan. Roche medicines are a significant innovation in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology, and diseases of the central nervous system. Roche is also a world leader in in vitro and molecular-level diagnostics of tumors, occupying leading positions in terms of diabetes management.
Roche has made major investments in genomic profiling and data collection in practice in recent years and has established itself as a leader in the pharmaceutical sector in this regard as well.
The company is constantly innovating in the field of healthcare. Over 125 years, many innovative medicines and diagnostic tests have been developed that have radically changed approaches in the treatment and diagnosis of many diseases. 125 years have been committed to caring for people’s lives. There are millions of patients and their families who have benefitted from life-saving medications and innovative approaches over the years.
Roche in Georgia
The first medications appeared on the Georgian pharmaceutical market in the late 1990s, and the company’s representative office was establish around this time. That was 25 years ago. The small office was represented by several employeess with medical backgrounds, who were constantly developing their knowledge and sharing information about new treatment approaches and innovative medicines with Georgian medical society.
Over the years, the representation has grown, and more and more breakthrough medicines have been brought to the market. Improving access to effective healthcare requires a combination of products, services, systems and resources in order to present or improve health. The primary goal was to deliver innovative products for significantly better treatment than was available at the time.
“Roche has existed more than a century in the search for ways to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease,” says Maka Asatiani, Director of Roche Georgia. We asked her to elaborate.
Evaluate what the Georgian pharmaceutical market was like 25 years ago and how you managed to establish yourselves.
We all remember how difficult it was in the country 25 years ago. The healthcare system was practically broken: medical staff had to work in unbearable conditions, there was a shortage of medication, modern technologies and medical facilities. It was also a significant financial burden for patients who had to pay medical expenses on their own.
During this difficult period, we worked hard to keep the communication with medical society, providing them with information, medical news, innovative products and innovative approaches to treat different diseases.
Competition 25 years ago and competition today- how do you deal with it?
There has always been and will be competition- it makes us stronger.
Roche supports all efforts to promote and protect competition, including the legitimate protection of intellectual property and marketing rights. Roche respects the legitimate undertakings of its competitors, including generic and biosimilar manufacturers. However, it is expected that they comply with applicable laws, regulations and industry codes.
The Georgian pharmaceutical market is open for global pharmaceutical companies. However, over time we observe that many international companies have been closing their representative offices in the country. One reason is slowly development of the healthcare system and no reimbursement programs for many diseases. The financial burden is still high for most patients to get the right treatment.
The presence of global pharmaceutical companies lead to the establishment of high ethical working standards in the pharmaceutical field.
How is the development of directions going in Georgia?
Roche medicines are a significant innovation in oncology, immunology, infectious pathologies, ophthalmology, and diseases of the central nervous system, as well as a world leader in in vitro and at the molecular level of tumor diagnosis, occupying leading positions in the management of diabetes.
More than thirty medicines created by Roche are included in the list of essential medicines provided by the World Health Organization, including life-saving antibiotics, anti-malarial, and oncological drugs.
Our goal is to accelerate the adoption of new technologies on the Georgian market. In the 21st century, there is easy access to information and medical news. When a new medicine is introduced in any country around the world, the patient is informed about it quickly. Therefore, with the introduction of new approaches to treatment, we take care to make it accessible to our patients. Also, the existing legal framework allows us to register a medicine 3-4 months after the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) or EMA (European Drug Agency) approve. In many countries, this process can take up to a year, and patients can’t wait for treatment.
Roche stands out for its advocacy campaigns. Tell us about it.
Government bodies and public officials play an important role in society. We are convinced that proactively and responsibly engaging with public stockholders is a fundamental aspect of good governance. We seek to inform and closely work with government officials in order to highlight and address the issues that affect the healthcare industry and advance its regulatory framework.
We strive to strengthen stakeholder understanding of and trust in our business, explaining what, why and how we do it, and our impact on society.
Roche is a world leader in research and development investment. As a result of these investments, new medicines are developed that will greatly assist in the treatment of a variety of diseases.
We have good examples of partnering with health authorities in Georgia, such as the Breast Cancer Program which was launched in 2016. With this program, breast cancer is not a death sentence any more for many women and their families. Numerous successful projects can be implemented with the cooperation of the public and private sectors.
We work with patents groups, hospitals and health organizations to increase awareness of different diseases.
What do you mean when you say that the medicine produced by Roche is innovative?
Innovative medicine is a unique, novel molecule on which a team of scientists collaborated, and on which numerous studies were conducted to determine the molecule’s effectiveness, safety, and quality. Like any other invention, an innovative pharmaceutical product is protected by a patent for 15-20 years. Patents temporarily confer an exclusive right to market new products. The patent ensures that innovation is rewarded and the search of novel treatment continues. When a patent for a product expires, the information needed to manufacture it becomes available for others to use for local generic production.
Roche is in first place in terms of investment in innovation development research.
2020 was a challenging year. What did the pandemic change in Roche’s operations and priorities?
Covid-19 has profoundly impacted the world we live in. Within months, national lockdowns, business closures, and social distancing measures changed life as we knew it, while the novel coronavirus ravaged even the furthest corners of global society. We had to adapt to this new, fast-paced, and ever-evolving environment. This meant we needed an unprecedented drive in innovation across the globe; one that was only possible through tireless collaboration.
Around the world, industry, academia, governments, and non-profit organizations joined forces to fight the pandemic. These partnerships have been paramount in combating the disease and investigating options that meet the varying needs of patients, healthcare professionals, and society as a whole.
At Roche, we have a vital responsibility as a healthcare company to help overcome the pandemic. We’re working to support countries in managing Covid-19 by helping to track the spread of the virus, providing tools that help diagnose patients so that they may receive the appropriate treatments and can return to their normal lives more quickly. Employees from across the business sector are still heavily involved in the Covid-19 response as it continues to evolve. We aim to help reduce the spread of the virus, and ultimately to reduce the need for patients to be hospitalized.
Georgia was not exclusion from the world situation, and our team was able to respond quickly to the changing reality, taking care of patients and responding to their needs in collaboration with our partners. We were in charge of supplying personal protective equipment.
Roche Georgia, as a member of the Association of Pharmaceutical Companies in Georgia, participated in fundraising to support to the Covid-19 Fund, which was be spent by the state as needed.
In addition to diagnostics, the company was involved in the development of Covid-19 infection medicine, right?
Roche is committed to delivering a leading antiviral and immunomodulatory therapeutics portfolio for Covid-19. As Covid-19 continues to spread globally, the need to identify the best possible prevention and treatment options for patients in different phases of the disease is intensifying. Because no one approach will be enough to match this global pandemic, we are collaborating with partners to identify and investigate multiple options that may help different patient subsets, ultimately aiming to reduce the need of Covid-19 patients to be hospitalized.
What is the key to the success of the company?
• Patients in the center of our business
• People working in the company
• Partnering with different stakeholders
We believe it’s urgent to deliver medical solutions right now, even as we develop innovation for the future. We are passionate about transforming patient’s lives. We are courageous in both decision and action. And we believe that good business means a better world.
That is why we come to work every day. We commit ourselves to scientific rigor, unassailable ethics, and access to medicinal innovation for all. We do it today to build a better tomorrow.
We are proud of who we are, what we do, and how we do it. We are many, working as one across functions, across companies, and across the world.