This article is an excerpt from the Special Discussion session between Kyowa Kirin President and CEO Miyamoto and Kyowa Kirin Outside Director Morita from Kyowa Kirin Annual Report 2020. Click herePDF file(102KB) for the full text of the dialogue article.

MiyamotoThe COVID-19 pandemic is spurring dramatic change in society. Those changes are particularly evident in the medical field, where growing use of socially distanced communication and non-contact medical examinations are leading to shifts in patient behavior.

A product supplied by the Kyowa Kirin Group is subject to new guidelines aimed at reducing the number of hospital visits for drug administration in order to balance the risk of infection with the benefits of receiving treatment. Other restrictions on our business activities, such as limits on visits to medical institutions, mean we are unable to promote new products properly. To mitigate the risk of infection and operate under pandemic restrictions, we continue to distribute information online and use email, web conferencing apps and other digital tools to communicate with medical professionals.

With socially distanced environments likely to become the new normal, a key challenge for the Group will be how we adapt to these new conditions. That presents opportunities, as well as risks. One area of opportunity is digital technology. By harnessing digital tools in our new non-contact world, we have the potential to reduce costs for certain business activities, even if they typically required significant resources and investment in the past.

For a company like ours, which is relatively small compared with the Big Pharma players, that makes it easier for us to expand on the global stage - a clear opportunity for Kyowa Kirin. However, we face major risks if the Group is too slow to introduce digital systems amid the broader shift to digitization.

MoritaI agree. With society changing rapidly due to the pandemic, implementing digital transformation (DX) is now of paramount importance to all companies, not just pharmaceutical firms. We have to actively harness digital technology to create innovative systems and services ahead of our competitors.

A key element of DX will be gathering, storing and utilizing information as digital data. A prime example of that approach is Israel's COVID-19 vaccine rollout program. Israel uses its citizen ID scheme to manage individual health records, providing detailed insights into who has received the vaccine and when. The authorities then analyze the data to help them keep the virus under control.

Pharmaceutical companies in particular also need to actively utilize big data resources and introduce AI technologies, which will help to significantly reduce clinical study costs and speed up new drug development. That of course has major benefits for patients.

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