Interview with David Braun, Global Head of Medical Device Business Solutions, Merck

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Please tell us a little about your role at Merck, what you are responsible for and when it’s related to packaging or drug delivery devices?
At Merck, the vibrant science and technology company, I’m in charge of medical devices and ehealth activities enabling and supporting our Global Business Franchises with innovative delivery devices and packaging solutions. These are key enablers and differentiators to our medicines, to provide ongoing care for patients beyond their treatment and improve patient’s experiences worldwide.

You have accepted to join the jury board of Pharmapack Awards from 2019, what are your motivations for being on the jury board of Pharmapack Awards?
As someone that started his career in R&D, innovation is at the core of the way I lead and drive business. It goes through innovative products but also innovative ways to think, to operate and to do business and it’s important that innovation and innovators get recognized and rewarded by the industry.
In the field of drug delivery, more than in other fields i.e. consumer electronics or software, entrepreneurs and innovators have difficulties to reach the end line due to the complexity of the pharma and medical ecosystem. It’s our duty, as industry leaders, to give them the right visibility and support to be successful and benefit patients.

What are important trends in this area (packaging & drug delivery) that you keep a close eye on?
This is a non-exhaustive list…smart packaging, traceability, connected devices for orals and liquids, painless injections, devices for high viscosity drugs. Data, ehealth and Artificial Intelligence are among other new technologies and are of course key to maximizing the benefits of connectivity. The industry is only just starting to scratch the tip of the iceberg.

What are the most important criteria for you when you evaluate an innovation?
At Merck it is in our DNA to use the latest technological advances to always better serve our patients. When evaluating an innovation, among others, 3 criteria are key to me:
1. What is the problem that this innovation is solving?
2. How are you going to make it commercially viable?
3. What’s your plan for scale up technically and commercialy?

Are there any particular areas you wish to see more innovative solutions?
Anything that’s improving a chronic patient’s life with regards to drug delivery, packaging and digital health solution, but not less importantly, anything that enables us to get faster to market. If we don’t want this industry to stay behind, Device suppliers have to become more agile, flexible and open to taking some risks.

You are going to present a keynote about “The Real Value of Connected Devices” in session 1 “Patient Adherence, Challenges in Usability & Regulatory update” on 6th February. Why is this an important topic for you?
In the last few years, everyone in the industry has been talking about connected devices, ehealth solution and big data. More and more companies are proposing innovative solutions.
The dilemma that we are facing these days, while asked to invest into new platforms, is “it’s connected, now what? What is the value proposition? How do I maximize the benefit out of it? What do we do with the data? What is the real value I create ?".
Merck launched its first connected device more than a decade ago and I’m going to share some of our learnings, challenges and ideas that I believe can help paving the road for success in the benefit of patients.