Wharton Healthcare Rocks

Elena-CastanedaOne of the best parts of Wharton so far has been the sheer breadth of experience and network of my fellow healthcare classmates, and how much they teach me whether in class, over meals, or over party jaunts to Atlantic City (thanks, Wharton three-day weekends!).

In our healthcare class this week, Health Services Systems, the topic was innovation in pharmaceutical companies. Our professor (the well-known venture capitalist Steve Sammut), introduced the topic by explaining some of the models that exist in the healthcare landscape – spanning from fully integrated research and development models, to in-license and acquisition models. He began comparing Wyeth’s famed “New Way of Working” and how they used inter-therapeutic area scorecards to track compound quality. When one classmate questioned the uniqueness of such a scorecard in the pharmaceutical industry, my classmate Amanda shot her hand up. Amanda, having spent the last few years as a scientist in Astra Zeneca, proceeded to share how Astra Zeneca managed the exploratory research process, which differed greatly from Wyeth’s.

My own learning team is a trove of experience as well. This past summer, one of my areas of investment interest was state health exchanges, a very new and yet-to-be-launched by-product of the Affordable Care Act. How people are going to purchase individual insurance is a bleeding-edge topic, but my learning team mate Alex is friends with an Accenture consultant currently designing the platform for California.

Perhaps most entertainingly, last week our professor showed  an IMS slide depicting the relative sizes of the “Pharmerging” markets around the world. After a few months getting to know my classmates, it was no surprise that my learning teammate Anne, a seasoned consultant fresh from a three-year stint in Indonesia, coolly announced to the class, “I made that slide.”

Then she brushed her shoulders off.