back home to our pharma clients and say, “See
what they did? We can do things like this, too!”
And every day, the answer was a melancholy
“no.” Lots of inspiring ideas in disease awareness
and unbranded, but not Rx.
Days later, after we had awarded the Grand
Prix to Meet Graham, we discovered that there
were only five Rx entries that made the short list
in Pharma, and none that earned a medal. Is this
really an accurate picture of where we are; five Rx
entries worthy of consideration at Cannes? To be
clear, Cannes needs to overhaul their criteria for
Pharma and stop accepting entries that aren’t regulated or targeted squarely at the industry. But that
is not an excuse for the lack of qualified contenders. Great work is great work. And there was great
work that won in Pharma. The Immunity Charm
was absolutely brilliant. VR Vaccine and The Fin
were inspiring. And the Last Laugh was poignant
and brave. But to see so few Rx brands represented
was honestly crushing, and sobering.
Why is this the reality? Is it because regulatory
and legal are the enemy of different? Is it because
pharma clients are afraid to rock the boat? Is it that
many pharma agencies have been so beaten into
submission that they give up the fight for great too
soon? None of these are acceptable reasons. There
are no acceptable reasons.
There was talk among members of my jury that
perhaps Cannes should shutter Pharma next year
and instead fold it into Health & Wellness as a b2b
category. I could not disagree more with this notion. Doing that is an admission that great work
can’t happen in the regulated space. It would give
agencies permission to stop at the first idea and it
would allow clients to expect and accept mediocrity. I don’t believe that’s good for anyone.
Cannes, for all its hype and hoopla, is about celebrating the power of creativity as a force for business, for change, and for good. When it comes to
health, that creativity can be truly life-changing.
No one should be settling for anything, and everyone should be expecting better. I sincerely hope
next year the Pharma jury is overflowing with inspiring Rx work. It’s not for the sake of our egos or
trophy cases. It’s for the future of our industry and
the patients we all serve.
Wins for patients
are wins for pharma
By Kathleen Starr, Ph.D.
inVentiv Health Behavioral Insights Group
This was my first year
Lions Health, and,
like so many, I was
inspired by the cel-
of life-changing cre-
ativity in the health
and wellness cate-
gory. Already having
an affinity for health
promotion as a
health psychologist, I left the festival with a nag-
ging thought: Most people are patients at some
point. What are we doing to tackle the big prob-
lems patients face?”
In the pharma industry, we spend a lot of creative
energy toward making sure people are equipped
to talk about available medication options. But if
we take a signal from Cannes, there is more to be
By Jean-Marie Dru
Editor’s note: The following
passages represent a shorter
version of an article written
by Jean-Marie Dru based o;
of the content of his keynote
speech at Cannes. To view
the full version, please visit
Healthcare is the single largest industry in the world,
which is three times bigger than the banking sector.
Yet it’s not undertaking the deep transformation it
needs. There have been of course huge advances
made by medical science. But the ways and means
that are used to deliver healthcare are often costly,
ine;cient, ine;ective, and are not consumer-friendly.
Healthcare systems are deadlocked
All countries are facing the same challenges. On the
one hand, fast-growing middle classes want access
to quality healthcare, per capita health expenditure
is growing exponentially and the elderly are living
longer. On the other hand, governments are under
huge pressure, they don’t have the ;nancial resources
to increase health budgets. It looks like the world’s
health sector is deadlocked.
Only innovation can help address these challenges. We must not only innovate in a disruptive way
in science, technology and medical practice, but we
must also accelerate the pace of innovation. Among
the various approaches that stimulate breakthrough
innovation, reverse innovation seems to me to be one
of the most promising when it comes to health.
A widely accepted de;nition of reverse innovation is
an innovation seen ;rst or likely to be used ;rst in the
developing world, before spreading in the developed
world. Price is the fundamental driver of reverse
innovation, also called frugal innovation in India. It’s
because reverse innovation makes it possible to do
more with less that it can help Western countries
deliver better, less costly healthcare, more e;ciently.
But it’s not only a matter of cost. Reverse innovation often brings signi;cant progress. Because they
were lagging behind in infrastructure development,
developing countries have leapfrogged past the ;xed
landline technology or oil-based energy sources to
mobile phone or solar energy. Scientists from developing countries don’t let themselves get stuck in rigid
and irrefutable ways of thinking and doing. They are
more inclined to develop leapfrog technologies or to
come up with breakthrough innovations. They often
invent out of necessity.
Here are seven recent examples of reverse innovation in health:
The Himalayan Cataract Project, an initiative
born in Nepal, allowed, for only 20 dollars, to restore
eyesight to 4 million cataract patients in 24 countries.
The Cardiopad, a portable touchscreen tablet from
Cameroon where there are less than 50 cardiologists
for 20 million inhabitants. This portable device makes
it possible to perform cardiac examinations in remote
rural areas in less than half-an-hour, something that
could not be done before, and to immediately send
the results to a network of cardiologists.
Practo, a medical platform of about 200,000
physicians and 10,000 hospitals that helps cater to 25
million patients each year in India. Patients can book,
reschedule and cancel doctor appointments and can
pay for their consultation online anytime and from
Zipline, a start-up whose drones can make between 50 and 150 emergency ;ights a day to deliver
up to 1.5 kg of blood for life-saving transfusion. Used
by 21 clinics in Rwanda, these drones have already
saved 6 million lives. Two hospitals in Switzerland
will have recourse to a similar Zipline-inspired drone
delivery service in 2018.
3nethra, a portable, low-cost, non-invasive, digital
imaging device developed by the Indian start-up,
Forus Health. It detects the ;ve major eye diseases
that are the main causes of blindness. 3nethra Neo
can identify retinopathy in premature babies, which if
left untreated, can result in the permanent blindness
of the child.
Sense Ebola Follow up, a mobile app that enables
the GPS-tracking of the Ebola virus and that has
helped reduce the time between identi;cation of a
suspect case and evidence of contamination from
72 hours to only 2 hours. This invention has contributed with unparalleled e;ectiveness to the ;ght to
eradicate the Ebola virus in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and
Accompagnateurs, health workers from inside
the same community as sick patients are recruited,
trained and paid to accompany them in their journey towards recovery. Initially implemented in Haiti,
Rwanda or Mexico, this system of auxiliary health
workers has helped reduce hospitalization costs by
almost two-thirds and treatment costs by 36% in
Boston. Medical authorities in other countries may be
reluctant to use this healthcare model. They should
not. According to WHO estimates, the world will need
an additional 40 million doctors by 2025, an unreachable target. So the world will need the “
There is no doubt that disruptive innovations will
more and more come from Africa and from all the
emerging economies on key topics such as prevention, nutrition, the equitable access to safe, a;ordable
and e;ective medicines, telemedicine, and the early
detection of infectious diseases.
We have to take advantage of the richness and
diversity of all these resources and better leverage
them. Part of the work that needs to be done in future
years will be to determine how developed countries
could draw inspiration from innovations coming
from developing countries in order to accelerate the
transformation of their healthcare systems.
Access to care, the major challenge of this century
We are facing major challenges. Science alone will
not get the health sector out of its current deadlock.
Scienti;c progress alone is not enough to compensate for the de;ciencies that are plaguing existing
Bridging the gap between science, technology and
medical practice has become critical. And to achieve
this, we must take full advantage of all innovative
ideas, wherever they come from. The seven examples
of reverse innovation that I pointed out give easier
access to health and care services, either through a
more e;cient organization or by lowering costs. They
are from emerging economies and they can help reduce disparities in healthcare access, which is a crucial
issue for all countries worldwide.
Increasingly, the South will export ideas to the
North. The South will inspire the North.
DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION IN HEALTHCARE