As Director of Product Strategy for McKesson Specialty Health, Jill Maddux thinks through how to help biopharma manufacturers get patients access to life changing therapies, especially for those who have no alternatives. This is a difficult feat as much of the technology driving these treatments is new and the territory is uncharted.

We sat down with her to talk about cell and gene therapy innovation, how she makes an impact on the patient care continuum and what she never leaves a pharmacy without.

How would you describe your role at McKesson?

Maddux: Companies who manufacture cell or gene therapies have been dedicating 20 years to cutting-edge science. But when it comes to channel strategy, they are unfamiliar with how to bring their medicine into the hands of patients. My team works with biopharma companies anywhere from 18-24 months before a drug goes to market. Some questions we ask include: Is the product autologous or allogeneic; single batch or multiple? Manufactured fresh or frozen? What temperature will the product need to be stored at? What care setting should it be administered in? What is the timeframe from manufacturing to administration? These questions then determine the type of services we can offer them to curate and execute a calculated strategy.

Meet the Mind Behind Our Gene Therapy Product Strategy 2Part of my job is to ensure that we offer the right services to support biopharma manufacturers. If our offering doesn’t fit the biopharma manufacturer’s needs, I find areas where we can innovate, whether it’s developing a new product offering or partnering with a company to fill the gap.

What has your career path been and how has it evolved at McKesson?

Maddux: I enjoy being a strategist and have been for some time. I look at challenges that seem impossible, dig in to identify the root cause of the problem and create next steps to make it possible. Prior to my six years at McKesson, I was at Pfizer in strategy and business development, focused on developing the China market. When I started at McKesson, I had the opportunity to work in Six Sigma, which is all about identifying operational efficiencies and ways to optimize or be more effective. I led an initiative to reduce distribution costs by $10M.

Then, when McKesson first launched iKnowMed Generation 2, a new proprietary oncology electronic healthcare record (EHR), I led the program to meet its objective of getting 200 providers to adopt the technology within two years. Most recently, I’ve been developing McKesson’s strategy for cell and gene therapy, which is cutting-edge technology that changes the way patients are treated and the way that McKesson would normally work with our biopharma partners. In all my roles, I’ve been able to take some chances and learn how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable—how to lean into uncertainty.

What are you working on now that you are most excited about?

Maddux: Cell and gene therapy, if you can't already tell! Gene and cell therapy is transformative medicine that has the potential to be curative. Data shows 83% of cancer patients receive complete remission within three months of treatment-- that’s a game changer.1 By assessing market dynamics, competitive landscape and product positioning, I get to play a big part in providing transformative medicine to cancer patients in a whole new way.

Since we’re all about better health, how do you stay on top of your own health and wellness?

Maddux: I’ve always loved running. I try to run at least a few times per week. It’s the best way to decompress. And sometimes I run with my 16-month-old son in tow. I did finish a marathon, but I’d say I’m a one-and-done type of person when it comes to marathons. Now I stick to half marathons!

If I went to the pharmacy with you, what would I find in your basket?

Maddux: Water and vitamin gummies (my guilty pleasure). Hydration is key! Diet and exercise are so helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and a daily vitamin is one more measure you can take; doesn’t hurt when they taste delicious!

Can you tell me about a recent experience you’ve had with a healthcare system? It could be positive, negative, eye-opening—anything that stuck with you?

Maddux: Healthcare systems have always been a part of my life. My father is chairman of the OBGYN department at CPMC (California Pacific Medical Center) here in San Francisco. So I kind of grew up skipping around in hospital hallways because we’d visit him every Friday. Over the course of 30 years, I saw hospitals change and transform themselves by adopting new technology and using data to change the way they deliver care to patients. Healthcare is a concept that’s ever-changing and to stay competitive, you need to be aware of those changes.

There’s a new trend emerging called micro hospitals, for example. These smaller hospitals typically have between eight to 15 beds and are popping up in areas where there aren’t enough hospitals to meet demand. They’re sort of halfway between an urgent care center and an ER. They offer emergency departments, pharmacies, labs and imaging services, but a stay at a micro hospital is likely to be less expensive than a regular hospital.

What do you think today’s patients need most when it comes to better care?

Maddux: I think patients want ease of use and transparency. We’re all used to services like Amazon, for example, that allows us to track the status of our order right at our fingertips. Patients want that, too - the convenience and transparency of knowing what the status of their medication or care might be with a click of a button.

If you could suggest one thing to improve patient care, what would it be?

Maddux: We need to continue to take a patient-centric approach to everything we do. We at McKesson have the advantage of being able to pick up the phone and call a clinical expert who is taking care of patients day in and day out. This is a great way to understand the patient’s journey, what technologies come into play and where more education is needed along the way. At the end of the day, it’s about knowing what a patient’s challenges are and helping them solve those problems.

1 "Novartis pivotal CTL019 6-month follow-up data show durable remission rates in children, young adults with r/r B-cell ALL," Novartis, 2017

Related: Learn about McKesson’s specialty drug distribution services for pharmaceutical manufacturers

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to sharing innovative approaches and insights so our customers can get the most out of their business solutions and identify areas for operational improvement and revenue growth.

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