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Ariel Katz is the co-founder and CEO of. H1 ..

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The epic fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ grace encompasses everything from CEOs to investors, trading partners, the media (social or otherwise) to the Silicon Valley hype that is always hungry for new breakout stars and unicorns. We teach people.

For pharmaceutical companies, especially the medical community, an important lesson learned from this sad and tragic event is as simple as it is powerful. Your advisory board is very important.

Big name, little relevant expertise

These five words characterize the Theranos Board of Directors. QuickLook is a (former) politician (George Shultz, William Perry, Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger, Bill Frist), a senior military man (Gary Ruffhead, James Mattis), and an unexperienced corporate leader (Richard Kobasevic). / Bank) shows and Riley Bechtel / Engineering and Construction).

Then there was William Foege, the sole medical expert and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Bill Frist, who focused on heart transplants, who moved into politics long before he joined Theranos’ board of directors. Unless you want to count medical professionals. Holmes himself dropped out at the age of 19, and Therano’s COO Sunny Balwani was a trained and experienced IT professional.

Big names attract attention and increase credibility, but require domain expertise on an advisory board from the start. Real field expertise from consultants who know what they’re talking about because they’ve lived it every day.

With the exception of Faggy, nobody knew first about diagnostic tests, the technology behind them, the challenges, logistics, economics, and even biology. Mattis’s statement in the Holmes trial makes this clear.

“I always thought we’d do it in Theranos gear,” he told the prosecutor. Washington post .. He heard the words from Holmes and the senior leadership team that the technology works. Without experience in this area, that’s almost all he can do.

What the board needed – and members should have argued long before that that expertise needs to be added – was people who could look inward and question every aspect of the system. .. Looks like a no-brainer.

What Theranos added was just luck in 2016. The magazine was called “Amazingly Qualified Medical Commission”. Which one was it? But apparently it was too late at this point.

Findings for the advisory board

The first lesson from this mistake is intuitive. Big names get attention and credibility, but require domain expertise on an advisory board from the start. Real field expertise from consultants who know what they’re talking about because they’ve lived it every day.

Advisory boards for (bio) pharmaceutical companies usually do not have a foreign minister or a defense minister, but the risks associated with a committee made up of only high-level international executives can be similar. There is sex. You may not be able to go into the dates and details. You give a podium keynote at the most prestigious conferences, know everyone in the therapeutic field and can present at a high price. Journal Impact Factor The magazine doesn’t look at the patient.

The Advisory Board desperately needs these big names to make strategic decisions, but it digs into weeds, answers relevant detailed medical questions, and addresses the unmet medical needs of various patient groups. You also need a member who can be identified. In order to advise companies at an early stage, a very functional and diversified board must be set up.

When things go wrong, even “surprisingly qualified” boards may not be able to turn things around.

Job Description: Rebel with good reason

Lesson 2 covers an interesting case from the only expert on the board. Faggy is one of the most loyal Theranos supporters and the longest running Theranos official when the Theranos house of cards falls (with the exception of Holmes).

As this example shows, people, even professionals, are crazy about hype. So it is a good idea to have a “rebel” or two on the board. That is, experts, often rising stars, are not afraid to question conventions, question the status quo, question data and discuss them with celebrities.

It’s easy to say, “find some rebels motivated to improve patient outcomes,” but this is one of the hardest things to get into an advisory board position. Those who question the established approach may not be recommended by the challenged experts. Therefore, the general method of building a board of directors by asking incumbent members to make recommendations can be ineffective or counterproductive for those important members.

This forces medical and commercial teams in life science companies to use a variety of approaches to find these emerging professionals with independent sources.

Scientific publications can be used as a leading indicator for emerging professionals. The number of publications, the journal’s impact factor, and most importantly, the work actually published help identify exceptional talent.

Social media is a new but increasingly important source of information. What service providers say and whom they are addressing, such as patients and colleagues, can contribute to a more comprehensive picture, especially for young professionals. Awards, active participation in medical societies, in particular participation in guideline development committees and international cooperation are further factors that companies take into account.

Once discovered and enrolled, these new professionals may experience neck pain, but if that means they are not going the wrong way, it is the pain. It’s worth it.

Good, bad, ugly

The third lesson is indirect. A lot of time, energy, money and sleepless nights are spent building an advisory board. Now use it for anything that’s worth it.

Theranos never did that. They couldn’t because their board of directors wasn’t designed to provide real oversight or to ask difficult questions. It is designed to raise money, gain awe, calm suspicion, and keep criticism at bay through the power of reputation of members. That worked very well – until it stopped working.

Criticism isn’t fun, but it’s important. The aim must therefore be to promote an open culture that encourages difficult questions, in-depth data research, fact-checking and constructive criticism.

The advisory board is just a place for open discussions among experts. As the Theranos example shows, if you do not address the challenges in a circle of trusted advisors, you may need to discuss them publicly or, in this case, in court.

Your advisory board is important – a lot

The board of directors is critical to success, be it the success of the entire company or the success of a particular drug development program. To meet this expectation, any explanatory body needs a diverse group of members who are highly qualified, enthusiastic, supportive, not afraid to and keep asking offensive questions.

The burden on the board of directors of the life sciences industry is particularly high as it is about people’s health and lives. It may not be known whether the patient died as a direct result of a Theranos misdiagnosis: “The wrong consequences have affected countless people. Some have received unnecessary treatment, misdiagnosed serious medical conditions, and experienced emotional confusion. “

The board of directors is responsible for reviewing, asking questions and confirming facts. It is the responsibility of the company to take this responsibility seriously, to create an open and credible environment, and to build a board of directors that makes this possible by listening seriously to its opinions and feedback.

Theranos clearly shows the possible consequences of not doing this.

The Theranos fiasco shows how important startup advisory boards are – TechCrunch source link The Theranos fiasco shows how important startup advisory boards are – TechCrunch