A Purpose-Led Vision: Organon MENAT's Ramy Koussa

Ramy Koussa, Associate Vice President for the MENAT at Organon, on how his global healthcare company is aiming to create a better (and healthier) every day for every woman in the world.

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Organon, a global healthcare company with a portfolio of more than 60 medicines and other products across a range of areas, added the MENAT region to its list of more than 140 global markets in October 2021. Globally, Organon's goal is to deliver innovation, improve access, and expand choice in order to address the therapeutic gaps in women's health around the world, and now, its presence in the region will enable the Organon team to take a step closer to achieving this goal by offering tailor-made solutions for women in the MENAT.

Ramy Koussa, Associate VP, Organon MENA

In line with this objective, Organon's launch event for its MENAT operations at Expo 2020 Dubai last year, which was held in partnership with United States Chamber of Commerce, the USA Pavilion, Jhpiego, and Friends of Cancer Patients, highlighted Organon's mission to listen to women's health needs, first and foremost. "I would say that we are the first big pharmaceutical company to have its vision fully dedicated to women," says Ramy Koussa, Associate Vice President for the MENAT at Organon. However, Koussa points out here that Organon's work on accelerating advancements in women's health in the region only starts by listening to women, while the company's long-term vision is to have all stakeholders involved and committed to this cause. "It's everyone's duty and responsibility, both men and women, to advance this," he notes.

Zooming into this goal, it becomes clear that Organon's promise to deliver significant interventions in women's healthcare requires them to prioritize the areas where critical therapeutic gaps exist. And uncovering these gaps indeed requires a deeper insight into women's needs, and for that very reason, the Organon team boasts of a high participation of women in the company, with 70% of its global board members being women, and the female representation in the MENAT currently standing at a very high 40%. "Having this high percentage of women in our company is in line with our decision to start by listening to women, and we want women to listen to women to whom they can relate," Koussa explains. "We want to understand what needs to be done, and, accordingly, to do that, but at the end of the day, it will not take only one single group of people or one single organization or any sub-segment to get us where we want. So, we need to activate everyone."

Organon has a long history of innovation in women's health. Organon is an ancient Greek word meaning "an instrument for acquiring knowledge," and it became the name of a Netherlands- based company established in 1923 that became known as an innovator in the area of women's health. When Organon was acquired in 2007 by American pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough, and then became part of the New Jersey-headquartered multinational pharmaceutical company Merck (known as MSD outside of the US and Canada) in a 2009 merger, its name was rejuvenated for the new company with an aim to preserve the important links to the past both in terms of its products and its passion for women's health. Today, Organon is a global healthcare company formed through a spinoff from Merck in mid 2021, and its business is based composed on three pillars: women's health, biosimilars, and established brands.

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Within just a few months of its launch, Organon has managed to initiate three transactions across some of the most urgent areas of need, aiming especially to advance innovation in large, underserved markets, which has been lacking in this domain for decades. "Organon Global has made quite a statement with these three major business deals, because they are in areas that are beyond the typical definition of reproductive health," Koussa explains. "One is pre-term labor and postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), which is devastating when it happens, and we want to work on saving the mother's and the newborn's life. The other one is endometriosis, which is really very unspoken of, although it's an issue that affects a big percentage of women across the world. And the third one is polycystic ovarian syndrome. So, we'll continue to keep listening first, then we'll continue enabling solutions and innovations in areas that are related to women's health."

Speaking specifically with respect to its operations in the MENAT region, Koussa Koussa says that Organon will be focused on building partnerships and collaborations that contribute to its overall goal- one example of this can be seen in its launch of the Femtech Accelerator Program in partnership with Egypt-based Flat6Labs to support female-founded, women's healthtech startups across the MENA region. "If we think of our end objective to create a better and a healthier life for every woman, we need to partner with everyone -governments, medical and paramedical societies, patient groups, some segments of the business sector, academia- who have the vision and mission to advance women's healthcare to the next level," Koussa says. "That being said, our partnership with Flat6Labs is to really empower young women to move forward with their healthcare and femtech projects. But we are also working very closely with medical societies on educating women, regardless of their age, because there are different needs in every part of a woman's lifecycle. So, we want to create a whole ecosystem that can support her. That is why we partner the MENAT region will be joining the company's global movement for International Women's Day 2022, with the call to action being to highlight inequities in women's health."

Speaking specifically with respect to its operations in the MENAT region, Koussa says that Organon will be focused on building partnerships and collabora- tions that contribute to its overall goal- one example of this can be seen in its launch of the Femtech Accelerator Program in partnership with Egypt-based Flat6Labs to support female-founded, women's healthtech startups across the MENA region. "If we think of our end objective to create a better and a healthier life for every woman, we need to partner with everyone -governments, medical and paramedical societies, patient groups, some segments of the business sector, academia- who have the vision and mission to advance women's healthcare to the next level," Koussa says. "That being said, our partnership with Flat6Labs is to really empower young women to move forward with their healthcare and femtech projects. But we are also working very closely with medical societies on educating women, regardless of their age, because there are different needs in every part of a woman's lifecycle. So, we want to create a whole ecosystem that can support her. That is why we partner with different stakeholders, such as with different groups and societies to raise awareness, with governments to enable access, with universities to create the right scientific platform, and to encourage academia to start researching the science of women's healthcare."

Koussa notes here that Organon has "the best of both worlds," in that it has the strength of a Fortune 500 company and the agility of an innovator. "This helps us enter the MENAT region, which is very interesting, because it has more than 48 markets and five key languages. Overall, in the MENAT region, we have about around 400 founders, not employees- we consider our team as not employees but founders, because, although we are a Fortune 500 company, we want to keep this entrepreneurial mindset as we go."

Indeed, the 400 Organon founders in the MENAT region will be joining the company's global movement for International Women's Day 2022, with the call to action being to highlight inequities in women's health. For its part, Organon has declared paid time-off for all its employees globally, including across MENAT, which will allow women to focus on their health, and for men to prioritize the health and wellbeing of women in their lives, whether by attending routine health check-ups with them, or by instilling healthier habits across the family. In this region, Organon has also launched a campaign under the tagline, "We believe in her," which aims to support women's healthcare choices, as well as a platform called "Her Health," available in both English and Arabic, which is mainly designed to focus on women's needs in healthcare. "Across all our projects in the MENAT region, we see that everyone is willing to join us," Koussa concludes. "It's a time of great empowerment of women here, and especially because the COVID-19 pandemic showed us how little women prioritize their own healthcare needs, because of their many roles. What we are trying to say is that this should not happen before she puts on her own oxygen mask first, and only then can she take care of everyone else."

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