Interview: Gabi Mittas, Managing Director, Amgen Australia

The global biotechnology company’s recently appointed local MD discusses her role in expediting the delivery of transformative medicines that address leading causes of death and disability, as well as the meaningful difference pharmacists can make in the management of chronic diseases, and the effort to reduce osteoporotic fractures nationally in partnership with leading pharmacies.

Gabi, tell us about your professional background and your role at Amgen Australia.

Thank you for the opportunity to connect with your readers for the first time. I’ve been with Amgen a little over six months now, having been appointed as managing director in December 2022. Before this, I spent more than 20 years at Eli Lilly and Company, where I held senior marketing and corporate roles across Australia, the US and the UK.

It’s a privilege to be on home soil and to lead a dynamic organisation whose products, people and unwavering patient focus I genuinely admire.

I’ve spent my first months at Amgen examining all aspects of the business and working with my team to set a clear strategy for the years ahead. In my role, I try to think about what’s going to have the greatest impact, and that’s why my focus is currently on access and working to ensure medicines reach patients more quickly through faster reimbursement.

As a company, we’re doing everything we can to move at a speed that matches the urgent needs of patients who are seriously ill, and it’s vital that Australia’s health technology assessment system is reformed so that it can do the same.

For pharmacists that don’t know your portfolio well, tell us about your major therapeutic areas. 

As a pioneer of the biotechnology industry, Amgen is committed to discovering, developing and delivering transformative medicines that address leading causes of death and disability, and finding new solutions to meet the growing demand for better quality healthcare for more people worldwide.

We focus on serious illnesses and high unmet medical need across six therapeutic areas: cardiovascular disease, oncology, bone health, neuroscience, nephrology and inflammation.

While research and innovation are at the heart of our operations, we also leverage our four decades of biologics expertise to deliver a range of high-quality biosimilar medicines. These products can potentially offer more affordable, life-altering treatment options that can contribute to the sustainability of health systems and allow for greater investment in new medicines for patients. 

What role do you see pharmacists playing in the Australian setting? 

There’s no doubt that pharmacists play a critical role in serving the needs of patients across Australia in ensuring the safe and effective use of medicines, and in supporting better health outcomes.

Pharmacists are highly accessible and enjoy high levels of trust and engagement with their local communities, which makes them a vital part of our healthcare system and a valued partner for companies like Amgen.

We feel this is especially true when it comes to the management of chronic diseases. In the case of osteoporosis, for example, there are around 1.39 million Australians1 living with the condition who could benefit from additional assistance identifying risk factors or managing treatment.

Indeed, we know that there are still around 400,000 patients who are undiagnosed and 320,000 patients who’ve let their treatment lapse.2,3 Many of these people may not know they’re at risk of a debilitating fracture4 and this is where intervention by their pharmacist can make a meaningful difference. By identifying patients who aren’t adhering to prescribed treatments, notifying them and encouraging them back into the pharmacy for review, pharmacists can help reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures, particularly of the hip and spine, which can cause disability, pain and even premature death.4<superscript>

With all these things in mind, I’m confident that pharmacists will continue to embrace the opportunities they have to support patient care and will remain a relevant, reliable and respected pillar of the Australian healthcare system. 

What are your priorities for the coming period? 

In the pharmacy setting, our biggest priority for 2023 is the Amgen Pharmacy Partnership in Osteoporosis INTervention (APPOINT) program.

The APPOINT program is a remunerated professional services health program that recognises the important role that community pharmacy can play in identifying and supporting the treatment of osteoporosis. It seeks to partner with leading pharmacies to reduce osteoporotic fractures nationally.

Amgen Australia created this program in conjunction with PharmaPrograms and is working with Arrotex Biologics to drive awareness and uptake.

If your pharmacy could benefit from additional osteoporosis support, including reimbursement for routine professional services that help tackle this National Health Priority Area, I encourage you to learn more about APPOINT and sign up at pharmaprograms.com.au

References are available on request.

This exclusive interview was originally published in the July issue of Retail Pharmacy magazine

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