August 6, 2013 -- Editor’s Note: In advance of the many health-related discussions to take place in September at the Clinton Global Initiative, the Social Good Summit, UN week and other such events, the Skoll World Forum asked some of the world’s leading voices in global health to paint a comprehensive picture of key trends, challenges and opportunities to realizing healthcare access and treatment around the world. A new piece will be posted everyday through Friday, and you can view the entire series here.
Kevin Reilly is a senior business executive with more than 30 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries. During his 20 years with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, he served in several positions covering responsibilities in Canada, Asia, and the Pacific region. From 1999 until his retirement in 2003, he was president of Wyeth’s $2 billion Vaccine and Nutrition Division.
Rahim Kanani: You bring a unique perspective to global health work, coming from a long career in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned or “aha” moments you’ve experienced in your work on broader global health and development issues?
Kevin Reilly: Personally, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for the complexity involved in running successful immunization programs. From the point of view of the vaccine manufacturer, you focus on the specific activities needed to move a vaccine successfully through the stages of development, but the many challenges involved in delivering and distributing that vaccine in developing countries may be less obvious. Getting a vaccine successfully from the factory door to the arms of millions of children in low-resource settings—that’s an enormously complicated task. Increasingly, I see pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturers engaging in the dialogue about strengthening immunization and distribution systems to ensure vaccines get to where they are needed. Vaccine manufacturers were among the key partners involved in the early conversations that led to the formation of the GAVI Alliance, for example. They could see that global immunization rates were stagnating and that something needed to be done.
Read the rest of the interview here.