Our Member Spotlight is Francois Sallans, Vice President and Chief Quality Officer for Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) in Belgium. In this role, he is responsible for the quality and compliance activities in J&J Pharma’s sector, including supply chain quality, R&D quality and commercial quality.
Francois is a Member of the International Leadership Forum and is the chair of ISPE’s Drug Shortages Initiative Team, which was awarded the Committee of the Year Award at the 2013 ISPE Annual Meeting in November 2013. The team’s work, as led by Francois, has helped establish ISPE as the leader in the area of Drug Shortages and motivated ISPE to run drug shortage workshops at every ISPE event in 2014, along with plans for further research in the initiative’s findings.
Q. Tell us a little about what motivated you to a career in the pharmaceutical industry?
A. As a pharmacist, I could have chosen to work as a retail pharmacist, but I decided to join the pharmaceutical industry as it was fitting with my values and aspirations. Working in an industry with a noble mission—providing innovative, safe and efficacious medicines to the patients—has always been very motivating for me.
The pharmaceutical industry is also a very diverse and innovative environment and offers multiple opportunities from R&D to operations to quality and compliance, regulatory, etc. During my career, I have had the opportunity and the privilege to work and grow in multiple domains, including R&D, operations and QC.
Q. From your view, what are some of the most significant issues facing our industry and how can ISPE help in resolving those issues?
A. Innovation has been phenomenal in the R&D space and breakthrough innovation has occurred over the last decade. However, the pharma industry is lagging behind other high-technology industries in term of operations and QA-QC innovation. We are a lot more conservative. In our industry, the innovation is rather “incremental,” probably because our industry is highly regulated and we are more reluctant to introduce breakthrough innovation. That’s a domain that industry, industry associations such as ISPE and regulators need to address.
Affordability of healthcare is becoming a fundamental problem worldwide and our industry will have to adapt rapidly to new needs. We will need to be much more agile, and we will probably have to find new and compliant ways to decrease our costs and probably also to increase local production of drugs. ISPE can play a key role there, for example in developing very robust tech transfer guidance for industry.
Responding to new emerging challenges: ISPE can help understanding and proposing aligned solutions in emerging challenges our industry is facing, as we did in Drug Shortages, Quality Metrics and Breakthrough Therapies.
Knowledge will continue to be a fundamental asset in our industry and ISPE is already playing an important role in providing training and sharing knowledge across industry and regulators. This will continue to be critical going forward.
Q. What do you see as some of the benefits of being involved in the ISPE Drug Shortages Initiative?
A. First of all, we had an outstanding and diverse group of representatives of our industry, all of whom were passionate about the drug shortage issue and committed to finding solutions together to eliminate shortages. Connecting with many industry representatives has been a great opportunity.
The interaction with regulators in a “value proposition” mode has been a very different experience than the traditional meetings and discussion panel interactions. Interacting with a diverse group of industry and ISPE experts on a critical subject is generating a rich exchange of ideas, different points of views and also very positive challenges; it has been a great learning experience for me.
Achieving very stringent timelines has been a challenge but has also created a phenomenal energy and passion within the team. The possibility to contribute to the resolution of an industry problem, as well as the connectivity with ISPE and industry representatives and regulators has been an extremely rich experience for me.
Q. What is your favorite movie and musical group? Favorite sport?
A. I love all kinds of music, but if I have to select few, I would say Pink Floyd, U2 and J.S. Bach. As for sports, I play golf (when I have time).