After earning his degree in economics and business administration from the University of Uppsala and becoming a Captain in the Royal Guard Reserves, Jacob Tellgren, Managing Director of MSD Sweden started his pharmaceutical carrier at Pfizer as a sales rep. He left the industry briefly to try IT consultancy, but realised the pharmaceutical business was his calling. Jacob joined MSD in 2001 and has since then held various positions across the organisation before taking his current position at the start of this year.

Jacob has seen the pharmaceutical industry go through some dynamic changes, which have had a major influence on MSD Sweden’s operations. “What we’re facing right now is that we don’t deliver the same growth that we used to. Part of that is due to a number of patent expiries of major products and part is because we have been operating a business model that is no longer working. Previously, our focus has been to offer scientific information on our top class products to individual physicians, basically the traditional way of the pharmaceutical industry. What we see now is that we need to collaborate with other decision makers of the healthcare sector. Regional payers are increasingly the dominant force to determine drug utilization. They want to have a say in what products are being used, in what way, and for what patients”. From that perspective, there is an industry identity crisis because we have been operating our traditional model very successfully  for many years.

“It’s not easy to change the way you operate after focusing on the individual physician or treating clinician for years. Now focus  has to move  to other parts of the health care organisations, in Sweden the County Councils. This includes pharmaceutical units, formulary committees and also to a certain extent politicians within the County Councils.  Maybe this is particularly important in countries like Sweden with a publically financed healthcare system? Anyway these organisations make decisions that have a huge impact on what products  prescribers can and will use. This is a completely new environment for us.”