Guest: Dr Gary Jankelowitz
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Dr Gary Jankelowitz is the Medical Director for MSD Australia and New Zealand. He has over 15 years pharmaceutical industry experience, with over 8 years in Medical Affairs. Gary has worked in Australia, UK and South Africa. Gary has worked across multiple therapeutic areas and has worked in strategic planning, business development, sales and marketing and medical affairs. He holds a Medical Degree from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, an MBA from Manchester Business School, UK and a Masters in Drug Development from the UNSW, Australia.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, know more about the wide range of products that (Merck Sharp & Dohme) MSD Australia and New Zealand has to offer. Our guest is Medical Director Dr. Gary Jankelowitz and he is here to talk about their company’s product range and what differentiates them from other pharmaceutical companies. Their product range covers areas in heart and respiratory health, infectious diseases as well as women’s health, osteoporosis, cardiovascular, diabetes and cancer as well as building strengths in new areas like biologics.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest joining me today is Gary Jankelowitz. Gary is the Medical Director of Merck Sharp and Dohme Australia Proprietary Limited for Australia and New Zealand. Gary welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Dr. Gary Jankelowitz: Wayne thank you. Thank you very much for that introduction.
W: Now, Gary Merck Sharp and Dohme probably a name most clinical people are familiar with, but also MSD. Can you fill us in on how they fit together?
J: Yeah in Australia and New Zealand, we trade as MSD. Some people still refer to us as Merck Sharp and Dohme. But globally we’re part of Merck and Company. So in the US and the Canada we referred as the Merck and Company, and all around the rest of the world we’re referred to as MSD.
W: That’s the same company effectively same product range, same offering?
J: Exactly the same. It’s the historical trademark issued the reason why we can and can’t use the Merck name in or outside of the US and Canada. But we have, it’s the same company with the same products all around the world – MSD, Merck – and currently is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies. And we you know have a range of medications across a number of different disease areas.
W: I just noticed on your website here Gary it says that you operate 140 countries, so that would certainly make you one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies around.
J: Yeah, we’re in the I think around the world wherein the top 3. And depending on how we position in different markets we’re usually within the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in US market.
W: Gary How would you characterize your product range? If I was to ask you what it is that MSD does, how would you characterize that?
J: Wayne as an organization we already focus on 4 key areas, but we cover rarely the entire gambit of potential disease areas. So everything from primary care where we have a focus on diabetes, and cholesterol management, and the control of blood pressure, and women’s health including contraceptives. We also have a focus on acute care and hospital where we’re involved medications for the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as the treatment of infertility, anesthesia and a range of infectious diseases. And then we also have a vaccine business, so the vaccine business covers both childhood vaccines and adult vaccines. And then finally relatively new to MSD around the world is our involvement in oncology in cancer. And we have a very exciting immuno-oncology product which is proven to have some very exciting results in some of our early clinical trials.
W: That’s a very wide spectrum of products. Gary tell me a little bit about immuno-oncology because that’s something that I haven’t heard of. In fairness I’m not a clinician. But I’ve interview a lot of clinicians and no one’s have been talking about that so can you fill me in?
J: So historically in the management of somebody who has cancer, many would do surgery, you have radiation therapy available to you, and then finally chemotherapy. So chemotherapy usually when you give an agent which is relatively toxic and has a range of side effects. It’s usually has an action on the cancer, but it can also have a range of other side effects. So where that immuno-therapy works is that it has an ability to re-awaken the body’s own immune system. So the immuno-therapy which MSD has rarely allows the immune system to be switched on and to recognize the cancers being foreign and therefore to a man can immune reaction to that cancer. And so it has a relatively good side effect profile because it hasn’t got all of those toxic effect associated with other immune therapy.
W: Right, I am constantly surprised by the developments occurring in medicine. And someone famous and I forget, who once said that any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic. The idea that you can pharmacologically turn on the immune system to fight cancer sounds like magic, it is that spectacular step forward it might give you.
J: Yeah, the result in global clinical trials are certainly very encouraging. In Australia and soon overly in New Zealand, we’ve just received approval for this immuno-therapy product from the TGA and in Australia we’re reimbursed with the PBS as well. And versus the use of the surgeons and patients with advanced metastatic melanoma. As an organization we are now doing studies in over 40 different cancers, so including lung cancer, and bladder cancer, and head, and neck, and a range of other cancers. But we’re not yet at the stage where those products are registered. We’re registered for those types of cancers on the market in Australia.
W: That’s a spectacular step forward and you need to be congratulated for your work in getting that to market.
J: Thank you . Yeah, we’re very proud at the speed that we’ve managed to get the immuno-therapy, the agent to market. I think it’s partly because there’s the strong recognition within the community, with oncologists, as well with patients, as well as with the regulatory agency that about their significant unmet medical need, and that’s the immuno-therapy can meet that need.
W: Well it’s nice to know that sometimes these things can happen quickly because I know it’s often slow and frustrating when you try to get some of these things done. Gary many of our listeners as I mentioned before, are clinicians either in acute care or in aged care. What’s the take away message that you’d like them to hear from you as a result of our chat today?
J: I think really just to be aware that MSD as an organization is very committed to science and innovation. And we continue to look for a new areas of science which can hopefully improve outcomes for patients living with some very difficult to treat diseases.
W: And Gary in every industry there are misconceptions and it’s my favorite question. Are there misconceptions amongst your customers, clients, patients that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?
J: I think sometimes there’s the perspective that the industry is all about take and there’s no give as an industry and specifically referring to MSD. And I can tell we’re involved in a range of global philanthropic initiatives. We have initiative in Africa which is to eliminate “river blindness disease” and we’ve given products as well as resources to that project over the last 10 years. We also have a global initiative with the UN which is the Merck for Mothers Program where we’ve made half a billion dollars available over a period of time to work on programs and projects which would be used leading during childbirths. So as an organization we do give a lot back and I hope that if people aren’t aware of that, that they have the time to explore a little bit more about some of those philanthropic and social responsibility, initiative that MSD and Merck have going on.
W: Well with a little bit of luck today Gary we would have spread the word a little bit further amongst our audience. And if they want to know more about MSD and Merck, where can they go to?
J: Probably the best place is to go to merck.com.au or just search Google for Merck, M E R C K.
W: Quick google search and you’ll find all you need to know about, Google. Gary Jankelowitz Medical director of Merck Sharp and Dohme Australia Proprietary Limited in Australia and New Zealand. I realize you’re a very busy man and I do appreciate your time this morning, thank you for being with us.
J: Thank you very much Wayne.
W: You’re listening to Wayne Bucklar on Health Professional Radio. If you just missed my conversation with Gary, the good news is we have a transcript on our website at www.hpr.fm. And you can also hear the full interview both on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and there are links to both those archives on our website. This is Health Professional Radio.