Amgen CEO Bob Bradway spoke recently with Michael Milken, philanthropist and chairman of the Milken Institute, about Amgen’s response to COVID-19. This interview was the latest in a series of conversations that Mr. Milken has held with industry CEOs, government officials, public health advocates, and other thought leaders about the global coronavirus pandemic.
Bradway emphasized that COVID-19 is “unlike anything any of us have experienced before. This synchronous global shutdown [has been] caused by what is a pretty tricky virus–a virus that had a head start on all of us. But we're gaining ground fast.” He summarized Amgen’s wide-ranging response to the pandemic, including the company’s efforts to keep employees and their families safe, its support for affected communities, its work to improve understanding of the virus through its deCODE Genetics subsidiary, and its research collaboration with Adaptive Biotechnologies related to COVID-19. Bradway noted that deCODE’s Iceland-based research on coronavirus prevalence and transmission “underscores how important widescale testing is and how difficult it is to contain a virus like this, which is infectious and asymptomatic at the same time.”
While noting the urgency of COVID-19, Bradway emphasized the need to keep up the fight against other health threats facing patients. “We need to make sure that while we're responding to COVID-19, we're not doing it at the expense of all these other patients, or we're going to create a secondary healthcare crisis that we never intended and that we could have prevented by striking that balance.”
Among these is cancer, a particular priority for Michael Milken, who is himself a prostate cancer survivor and an outspoken advocate for cancer research and treatment. “The more we learn about how cancer evades the immune system,” Bradway commented, “the more we can try to prevent that from happening. We are at the forefront of that and making great progress…in addition to prostate cancer, we're exploring novel molecules in lung cancer; we’re exploring novel medicines across a range of so-called liquid tumors–the blood cancers–and [are] really very optimistic about what we see, not just in our own portfolio but across the industry.”