Collaboration As The Means To The End

Collaboration As The Means To The End

Jesper Høiland, executive vice president of Novo Nordisk US, offers some thoughts about why making a difference in the fight against diabetes requires more than just Novo Nordisk know-how.
Jesper Høiland in conversation with Mary Baumann from the American Diabetes Association at the launch of Cities Changing Diabetes in Houston, November 2014

Jesper Høiland in conversation with Mary Baumann from the American Diabetes Association at the launch of Cities Changing Diabetes in Houston, November 2014

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Why does changing #diabetes in US require #collaboration? Novo Nordisk's EVP Jesper Høiland offers his view
Wednesday, June 24, 2015 - 11:00am

CAMPAIGN: The TBL Quarterly


The famous American baseball player, Babe Ruth, once said about collaborating and teamwork: “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.”

As a leader in the fight against diabetes, these words have special meaning to us. No one has a lock on what will slow down or even stop the diabetes epidemic in the US, now affecting 29 million Americans and counting. The epidemic is changing the health of this nation so quickly – one-third of all money spent in Medicare, the US government insurance programme for retirees, is spent on diabetes. 86 million Americans have prediabetes. These numbers show that the problem is going to get worse before it gets better. It’s going to take many different 'team players' to put a dent in this public health problem.

When Novo Nordisk started operations in the US 25 years ago, it was with a handful of employees wanting to change the lives of patients with diabetes through our medicines. We knew there was a tremendous market in the US, but something else was concerning. Diabetes was not viewed as a serious disease, treatment options were limited by the science and reimbursement, and healthcare professionals wanted to know more about this disease that was growing in prevalence.

We’ve been trying to keep pace with the epidemic in the US ever since. Today, the Novo Nordisk workforce in the US accounts for 16% of our global company’s employees. Our production site in Clayton, North Carolina, our research and development centre in Seattle, our field employees spread across the nation and our home office in Plainsboro, New Jersey are all working in their own way to bring value to the communities we serve.

Collaborating with our communities, with our teams, and with those who have a stake in how this nation confronts diabetes is the only way we will make a difference for patients.

Taking on the epidemic through partnership

In this issue of TBL Quarterly, we’ll explore some of our company’s efforts in the fight against diabetes and chronic disease. Now leading in the US region for nearly two years, I see how we must maintain leadership – but not in the same, traditional 'big pharma' way.

We’ll start by mapping the problem in the US and how it has grown. Treating patients who know they have the disease is one challenge, but how do you find the undiagnosed when the criteria for screening has been out of sync with the scientific evidence? You’ll read about how our long-standing commitment – and how through the strength of a unified diabetes policy community – is bringing change that could help identify millions more patients earlier in the course of type 2 diabetes.

Making change in the US federal government takes extraordinary patience, passion and resilience. You’ll get a glimpse into what one of our lobbyists, Lauren Semeniuk, calls 'a good week' when working with federal legislators on behalf patients and Novo Nordisk.

Then we head west to Houston, Texas, one of the communities participating in our Cities Changing Diabetes initiative. This is a unique journey for Novo Nordisk and our local coalition partners who are mapping the diabetes challenge, looking to bring together a large number of stakeholders to learn what’s working and what’s not, and then creating an action plan for the fourth largest city in the US. It is a story about building trust and creating a shared goal that could change policy and practice in this diverse city.

You’ll read about how our Triple Bottom Line business principle fits very well with the concept of Creating Shared Value. It’s an idea in which companies can increase profits, enhance competitiveness, and solve societal issues all at once. Steve Noyes, vice president, Public Affairs, Novo Nordisk US, and Kyle Peterson, managing director at a firm called FSG discuss how this approach has worked for us.

We have a fantastic and committed workforce at our Clayton, North Carolina production site. They really bring their passion for patients to their work and their community, and a lot of work has been done to bring the patient experience closer to everyone there.

And finally, partnership is key to everything we do. In the US, we build those partnerships with organisations and programmes who share some of our priorities, but make a positive impact in communities and patients. Read how our Corporate Giving and Social Impact team uniquely connects Novo Nordisk and local and national communities.

Through this issue, you’ll see that the fight against diabetes is bigger than our company. No single organisation or individual has the answer, and finding solutions doesn’t always mean someone is right and someone else is wrong. Learning from our stakeholders, collaborating with them, and taking a patient first approach will be critical to our business and the patients we serve.

JESPER HØILAND, Executive Vice President, Novo Nordisk US

Download the full issue of Novo Nordisk's TBL Quarterly magazine