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Aaron Shao, Sarah Wang, Jenny Zeng

大健康行业的总法律顾问们正面临同时到来的机遇与挑战。随着新冠疫情日益平稳,健康行业预期迎来快速发展,与此同时,该行业在中国也面临着不断变化的监管环境。在本专题中,该领域总法分享了他们当下工作中的痛点,以及他们支持公司保持竞争力的方法。

 

ALB:过去12个月中,中国医药健康领域哪些监管/法律法规变化对您所带领法务团队的工作产生了重大影响?

邵明,雅培公司大中华区法律总顾问:雅培是一家业务非常多元化的医疗健康公司,业务领域涵盖医疗器械产品、诊断产品、药品和营养品。业务领域多元性的特点,决定了我们所面临的外部监管环境、适用的法律法规、以及内部法律工作的复杂性、多样性和广泛性。同时,雅培业务的多元性也增加了内部法律工作的协调、管理和统一的挑战性和复杂性。

医疗健康行业是强监管行业,中国的医疗改革也在持续不断地推进。2018年国家医保局的成立,加速了中国医疗改革的进程。在这样的大背景下,过往一段时间,医疗健康领域出台了大量的法律法规和行业政策,包括《药品管理法》、《医疗器械监督管理办法》及其配套法规的修改;医药代表登记制度;医保局信用招采制度;药品和高值耗材集中采购等等。

雅培大中华区法律部除了对于法规变化进行及时跟踪和分析外,也积极深入了解法规和政策变化的背景和趋势,和业务部门深入探讨法规政策对公司产生的影响,并深度参与业务部门针对法规和政策变化所开展的项目,以及业务方面进行的优化和调整。

王维颖,阿斯利康全球副总法律顾问、国际业务部及日本总法律顾问:在外部监管层面,对我们影响较大的是信息保护领域的法律变化。从前几年人类遗传资源管理办公室进行的规章制度调整,到《网络安全法》《个人信息保护法》等新法的出台,信息管理已经突破了临床研究的范围,体现在药企的所有商业运作当中。跨国药企面对的一个现实问题是,我们和全球总部有很多合规调查合作,涉及信息共享。新法出台后,未来中国相关信息是否还可以继续使用?后续面对外国监管机构协助调查的要求,这些信息能不能提供?我们要就此继续和监管机关保持沟通。

在知识产权保护领域,专利延长、专利链接等制度的诞生对于原研药在中国的保护状态产生了非常大影响。这几年仿制药对原研药的专利挑战愈演愈烈,之前原研药企业较少通过专利侵权诉讼维权,但在中国目前的市场环境下,我们可能也要主动一点,利用法律法规及时维权。另外在设置独占期时,在中国市场也会采取不同考量:在国外大多以化合物专利过期时间为标准;在中国,我们会建议以包括药品进入集中采购日等综合指标来衡量药品独占期的丧失。

曾妮,平安医疗健康管理股份有限公司法律合规部负责人:从经济学供需规律看医药健康领域或许可以发现一些新的视角。先看供给,药品器械公司和医疗机构主导供给市场早已形成市场格局,而伴随网售处方药和互联网医疗法规政策不断清晰,又带来新的想象。再看需求,国民对医疗健康的支付意愿在后疫情时代更加高涨,但支付能力上需要社保保基本、商保满足“保基本”之外不断增加的需求,相应的法规政策也不断完善。平安集团通过集团内各家公司服务患者及医疗服务各参与方;公司的各项产品主要赋能中国医疗的主要支付方——国家医保,所以我们更关注与医保相关的法律法规、监管政策变化。

过去12个月里,国家医保相关法规政策呈现出两个明显趋势:一是制度体系逐渐完善。《医疗保障法(草案)》、《医疗保障基金使用监督管理条例》、《医疗保障稽核管理暂行办法(草案)》的出台或征求意见,密集补充了国家医保从社保独立出来后在医保管理各方面的制度;二是创新业务逐渐规范。近年来各地医保局推出了各类型的“惠民保”产品作为医保补充,银保监会也相应出台《关于规范保险公司城市定制型商业医疗保险业务的通知》,使产品创新有规可依。

这些变化既体现了国家医疗健康领域改革进入深水区后的必然要求,也意味着医疗健康更严监管是大势所趋,改革创新和严格监管并重的整体脉络也更加清晰。这必将对法务团队的工作产生深远影响,体现在三个层面:一是学习更快,法务团队必须更加紧密跟随行业发展变化,学习新法新规,了解新要求,及时同步公司调整产品及业务形态;二是专业更精,团队必须更加准确研判监管视角和尺度,了解法律法规出台目的,为公司业务发展提出更好建议;三是思路更广,团队必须更多走出去,让优秀的创新匹配规范的管理螺旋上升,从而引领整个行业健康良性发展。

ALB:对于医疗健康领域企业来说,拥有一支深谙行业和业务和法务团队有多重要?您是否要求团队成员拥有更多的跨领域能力?

邵明:医疗健康领域具有专业度高、参与方多、监管力度大等特点。法务团队只有深入了解行业和业务,才能提供更为专业、切实、有效的法律解决方案。此外,医疗领域的法律问题复杂程度高,且许多法律规定是不够清晰的,这种情况下,需要法律部门结合对于法律规定和行业环境的理解,在合法合规基础上提供前瞻性的、可以落地的解决方案。

我们一贯秉承“以专业知识和素养为依托,以法律和合规为准绳,以深入理解和高效解决问题为目标,和以为企业和团队创造价值为追求”的工作准则,鼓励法律部团队成员积极了解基本业务和产品知识、业务流程和模式、业务主要痛点、政策及监管环境变化等,以更好提供法律解决方案并助力业务的健康增长。

另外,如前所述,雅培业务具有多元化的特点和优势,我们的业务领域横跨了食品、药品和医疗器械等行业领域。为使雅培法律部团队的每位成员拥有跨领域的知识和技能,我们依托雅培多元化的特点,在近几年实施了轮岗制度。轮岗制度使每一位法律部团队的成员都有机会接触雅培不同的业务部门、项目及相关行业,从而积累不同业务和行业的知识,以及解决不同法律问题的经验和能力。

王维颖:药企对于法务的专业性、多元化正提出越来越高的要求。当下大环境对跨国药企提出了新的挑战,药企本身面临转型过程,法务的能力也要跟着业务需要来调整。转型中的药企必然会开拓新的业务,例如阿斯利康开始关注互联网医院项目、基金业务等。伴随药企的商业多元化,团队律师也要拥有支持新业务的能力。例如我们现在有专门做交易的律师;拥有一支由四位成员组成的专利律师团队;未来我们还需要能够支持基金业务的律师等等。

另外一方面,伴随药企不断拥抱数据化、电子化,业务部门和内部律师其实处在共同学习的过程中。这就需要律师可以和企业共同成长,需要跟得上业务、对新兴业务保持好奇心,愿意去学习,去接受,和整个组织架构一起适应新挑战。

我本人的背景也是这样:最初我在芝加哥做房地产基金投资领域律师,回到上海加入欧华律师事务所后,在几年时间里什么领域的业务都要接触。随后我加入阿斯利康,最开始只有三位律师同事到目前我们建立了一支十多位律师的中国法务团队,深刻感受到了来自业务的不断更新和进化。所以我觉得,关键是要保持兴趣、喜欢变化,保持学习的状态。此外,法务团队的领导者也要有大局观,能够看到未来行业、风险点变化趋势,把团队带往正确的战略道路,有勇气做出变革,此外还要能够不断激励团队。

曾妮:医疗健康行业既传统,近年来又在不断创新变革。变革和创新中如何保障业务合法合规是法总和法务团队深入思考和持续实践的主题。拥有一支深谙行业和业务的法务团队,才能保证变中不乱,企业的业务和产品才能守护好国民健康。团队需要做到“扎地前倾”,坚守两个“根本”:一个是坚守合法合规底线的根本,即“扎地”;另一个是对公司所处行业和业务模式、产品的商业逻辑有深刻认知的根本,即“前倾”。我一直坚信“扎地前倾”是法务团队工作的主基调。

我对团队的一贯要求是多尝试、做成和做好更多的“跨界”,主要在三个层面:首先,要勇于跨行业。如平安集团的整体布局,需要打通医疗行为的上下游,诊断、付费,服务横跨医学、金融、科技等各个行业,这就需要法务团队对这些行业的基本规则都有所了解。其次,要勇于跨专业。目前团队成员的专业背景有法律、合规、内控、审计、风控等,跨专业的背景促使团队成员从更多视角识别、管控法律风险,不仅从合同文本上,更从制度流程上、产品实操上设计管控点,形成风险管理闭环。再次,要勇于跨层级。我们的团队成员不仅是审核合同文本、识别法律风险,更要紧随行业趋势、国家政策,提出产品业务优化建议,甚至匹配政策情况影响公司战略,才能实现法务价值的最大化。

ALB:医药健康领域在中国正经历加速数字化和信息化过程。近期您带领法务部门,为公司业务的此类变化提供了怎样的支持?

邵明:近些年,医疗健康领域正在加速进行数字化转型和信息化赋能。信息化和数字化将会带来颠覆式创新,并可能重塑整个医疗健康产业生态。与此同时,相应的法律和监管措施也正密集出台。随着《网安法》、《数据安全法》和《个人信息保护法》等法规的相继出台,针对网络安全、数据安全和个人信息及隐私保护的法律框架也正在逐步完善。

法律部一方面需要深入业务部门各种数字化创新项目的可行性研究,另外一方面也要确保项目的数据合规性。在近期,法律部深入参与各种数字化项目的探讨和实施,包括:可联网医疗设备的数据和网络安全合规、互联网医疗合作、网络营销和推广、在线医学教育等项目。

同时,法律部也积极协同公司数据保护和网络安全等部门,落实公司网络安全、数据保护和个人信息合规制度的制定和执行。网络和数据安全保护是跨部门、跨领域、跨知识学科的系统性工作。在法律和标准不断完善的背景下,我们立足法律专业能力,助力公司网络安全和数据合规项目的落地。

王维颖:过去几年阿斯利康致力于构建一个医药健康生态圈,例如我们和中金公司合作打造了“阿斯利康中金医疗创投基金”;在无锡设立了中国商业创新中心等。我们希望借助和第三方的合作,从测试到诊断、治疗,再到持续的健康生活,将相关企业形成合力。

法务在此过程中要能够跟上业务的思路,理解项目的最终意义,并将不同项目联系在一起,从全局层面查看它们的合规或者商业风险,并且通过良好的沟通,让业务也能够理解相关风险。很多业务我们都是第一次做,法务在反复提问的过程中,也能够帮助业务理清思路,对于项目价值、运营方式、获益方式等进行更深入思考。

曾妮:我曾长期在互联网行业工作,深知互联网行业的数字化和信息化会产生强大的溢出效应。

一方面,数字信息技术跨行业应用和普及,加速了医药健康领域的系统化和自动化。平安医保科技正是伴随数字化和信息化而生,公司凭借国际领先的医保管理、医疗管理、健康管理、疾病管理经验,积极应用生物识别、大数据、区块链、人工智能、云计算等技术,为医保、商保及医疗服务供给方提供一揽子智能化解决方案及技术服务。为了支持这样的技术革命,我们全面优化了公司的知识产权管理体系,为科技能力提供法律保障。同时制定了专利申请技术评定机制,使公司专利申请不仅保量,更加保质,根据WIPO2020年榜单显示,公司金融科技专利申请量位于全球第十位。

另一方面,数字化和信息化管控规则的跨行业迁徙和复用,也加速了医疗健康领域数字化、信息化管理规则的形成和完善,乃至推动了整个国家数据和信息领域的立法进程,这从《网络安全法》到《数据安全法》,再到《个人信息保护法》的立法发展脉络也可见一斑。过程中,法务团队敏锐洞察变化,强化研判和论证分析,早在2019年就顺应国家大趋势,组织实施业务数据安全提升专项,梳理公司全场景业务全貌,为公司沉淀和积累数据全生命周期管理的方法论和长效机制,并在之后的业务实操中不断调整优化,力求找到业务落地合法合规的最佳路径。

ALB:过去一年中,您自身和团队如何在公司内部扮演更为积极重要的角色?

邵明:雅培全球法律部都高度重视法律部的工作给公司带来的积极影响。因此,雅培法律部除了出色完成法律支持工作外,需要始终聚焦于对公司真正重要的商业问题之上。这就要求雅培法律部成员在日常工作中进行全方位思考,包括对于业务和策略的深入理解、拥有全局观并能跳出问题进行思考,以及聚焦于法律方案产生的结果和影响。

雅培大中华区法律部积极践行这些理念,并在雅培中国的业务运营中扮演积极重要的角色。包括:1.为公司在区域内的重大项目和战略目标的实现提供卓越的法律支持和保障;2.在提供法律方案和建议时,不局限于只做法律判断,而是针对问题和现象,提供能实施、合理的解决方案;3.在监管尚不清晰地带,进行前瞻性和战略性分析,并愿意以商业伙伴的角色协助业务选择最合适的商业安排;4.通过对外部环境和内部风险的评估,致力于内部流程优化和风险平衡管理。

王维颖:首先我认为公司本身要有足够的吸引力。既然希望吸引市场上最优秀的律师,就要为他们提供非常有趣、高质量的项目,让团队成员实现更为专业的发展。所以我会积极帮助团队成员创造机会,参与到公司的大型项目中去;同时我也会鼓励他们保持开放心态,在项目组中扮演积极角色,将法律和法律以外的思考贡献给团队,证明自己的能力。

另外,阿斯利康有一项名为“Plan100”的项目,为员工提供多样化的岗位机会。总法需要更深刻地了解每位成员的需求:他/她是否希望更深入了解药企的其他业务?或者他/她希望未来能够成长为总法律顾问?在了解诉求的基础上,帮助他们创造更多机会——也包括法律业务以外的机会。

最后,作为总法,也要帮助同事在整个机构内部寻求新机会,在适当的时候把他们推到管理层面前,实现进一步发展。总法也要不断修炼自己的知识面、战略水平,能够在组织架构中占据重要地位,自然也会帮助团队提升影响力。

曾妮:法务团队在公司内部的角色定位,我认为需要按照“事务型法务”-“管理型法务”-“战略型法务”路径逐步上升。“事务型法务”是一种完全被动的工作状态,是法务的最基础工作形态。“管理型法务”则除了被动触发的评审外,进行更多的主动管理动作,例如将项目评审中发现的共性问题总结归纳形成宏观管理规则;或者发挥法律、合规、内控、风险等跨专业能力,构建风险管理闭环等。“战略型法务”则要求法务紧跟政策趋势,更具有前瞻性,辅助产品或业务具有更长久的生命周期,为公司战略发展贡献力量。目前,我带领的法务团队已经完成“事务型”向“管理型”的角色转变,正向“战略型”发展。这个过程会比较漫长,也肯定有非常多挑战,但我们不怕道阻且长。

同时,我个人也一直在思考:法总如何更好实现自身职能上移。当某一事项需要从公司层面做决策时,法总不能只局限于法务部门,而要基于专业判断,再结合公司战略规划、主营业务方向等更高的价值层面来分析,主动上移,辅助公司领导决策。这就要求法总具备战略眼光和行业视野,才能更好实现价值最大化,也是带领团队实现向“战略型”进化的必备条件。

ALB:未来12个月您带领团队的工作重点有哪些?

邵明:团队建设方面,将注重团队的发展和成员的个人培养,以及团队组织文化的不断优化。

法律工作方面,工作侧重以下三个方面:1.持续关注医疗健康行业的法规及政策变化,助力公司积极应对外部法规政策变化;2.重点关注医疗健康行业重点合规领域的进一步优化和提升,包括反不正当竞争、反垄断、广告及推广、产品质量及合规等领域;3.积极学习和开拓新领域的法律知识和技能,包括个人隐私保护、网络和数据安全等新兴领域。

最后,在行业外部环境建设方面,我们将积极促进行业交流,不断致力于提升行业的准则和标准,为行业积极健康发展做贡献。

王维颖:首先,新的法律法规目前仍在摸索、落地阶段,未来法务部要给到公司更加明确的指导;其次,我们要抓住未来发展重点培养律师的能力,例如伴随企业越来越多的外部合作,我们要更多培养律师做交易的能力;第三,专利也是一大重点,尤其对于原研药企来讲,要通过更多方式保护自己的专利;第四,数字化和电子商务未来仍将是药企非常重要的发展方向,法务团队要对新业态有更深刻的理解,并协助管理层防范风险、保护商业利益。

法律科技也是我们关注的话题。目前我们在合同管理层面的电子化程度已经较高,未来会更关注合同自动化、AI等新领域。例如阿斯利康在拉丁美洲市场使用了名为“virtual legal”的工具,通过网上问答和BOT功能,帮助大家自动解决基础性日常法律问题;此外我们也希望尝试基础合同模板、“条款银行”(clause bank)等产品,未来只要输入关键数据,就能由AI自动生成合同。

曾妮:未来一年甚至更长一段时期,我带领团队的工作重点只有一个:把“管理型法务”做到120分,争取更快实现向“战略性法务”的转变与发展。

我简单总结了12个字:打牢基础、开放融合、志存高远。一是打牢基础。始终坚持法务团队分析、管控、服务的三重定位,为公司业务和经营提供专业而有温度的高效服务。二是开放融合。我常常听到大家说法务是专业人士,需要出具专业意见。此话确实不假,但也完全不够。我们的目标是打造更前瞻、更主动、更具价值的法务团队,这就不能限于专业,更要容得下行业发展、商业逻辑、公司战略等。三是志存高远。我一直坚信法务不光是专业意见的输出部门,更加是公司价值的创造部门。这是法务不断进化的内在驱动力之源。有了基础、必要条件和驱动力,剩下的就是撸起袖子加油干。


GC ROUNDTABLE: HEALTHCARE

General counsel from the healthcare sector are finding themselves faced with both opportunities and challenges. While their companies have seen an uptick in demand following the COVID-19 pandemic, they also have to handle the constantly changing regulatory environment in China. In this feature, healthcare sector GCs share their current pain points, and how they support their companies to remain competitive.

 

ALB: In the past 12 months, what are some of the regulatory changes in China's healthcare field that have had a significant impact on the work of your team?

Aaron Shao, Head of Legal, Greater China, Abbott: Abbott operates in diversified business areas, ranging from medical devices, diagnostic products, to pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. This diversity dictates the complexity and extensiveness of the external regulatory environment and the applicable laws and regulations we are faced with.

The establishment of the National Healthcare Security Administration (NHSA) in 2018 accelerated the pace of China's healthcare reform. A slew of laws, regulations and industry policies have been introduced in the healthcare field, such as revisions to the Drug Administration Law, the Measures for Supervision and Administration of Medical Devices and its supporting regulations, introduction of the medical representative registration system, the credit-based bidding and procurement system of the NHSA, centralized procurement of medicines and high-value consumables, etc.

On top of promptly tracking and analyzing regulatory changes, Abbott Greater China's in-house team also actively works to gain an in-depth understanding of the background of regulatory and policy changes and discuss the impact of such changes on the company with business units.

Sarah Wang, Deputy General Counsel, International & Japan, AstraZeneca: In terms of external regulation, legal changes in information protection have had a greater impact on us. Be they the regulatory adjustments made by the Office of Human Genetic Resource Administration in the past few years or the introduction of new laws such as the Cyber Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law, information management has outgrown clinical research and penetrated to all aspects of the commercial operations of pharmaceutical companies.

In the field of intellectual property protection, the introduction of patent extension and patent linkage schemes have greatly impacted the protection status of brand-name drugs in China. While brand-name drug manufacturers rarely resorted to patent infringement lawsuits to protect their rights in the past, considering the current market environment in China, we may also need to be more proactive in using laws and regulations to safeguard our rights in a timely manner.

Jenny Zeng, Head of Legal Compliance Department, Ping An Medical and Healthcare Management: Ping An Group serves patients and medical services players through various group companies, and its products mainly empower the national healthcare security, the biggest payer in China's healthcare sector. As a result, we pay more attention to changes in laws, regulations and policies related to national healthcare security.

We observe two clear trends in such field in the past year. First is the gradual improvement of the institutional system, with a raft of rules to supplement the national healthcare security system after its separation from the social security system. Second is the gradual standardization of innovative business. These trends are bound to profoundly impact the work of the in-house team. In response, we must learn faster, be more specialized and think out of the box.

ALB: How important is it for companies in the healthcare field to have an in-house team that is well versed in both the industry and the business? Do you expect your team to develop more interdisciplinary capabilities?

Aaron Shao: An in-house team in the healthcare field will be able to offer more professional, practical and effective legal solutions only if they have a deep understanding of both industry and business. In addition, legal issues in this field are highly complex and many regulations are not yet clear enough, which requires the in-house team to tap into their understanding of the regulations and the industry environment to provide forward-looking and feasible solutions while ensuring compliance.

As mentioned earlier, Abbott’s business spans industry areas such as food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. To equip each in-house team member with cross-sector knowledge and skills, we have implemented a rotation system in recent years so that each team member has the opportunity to be exposed to Abbott's different business units and projects as well as related industries.

Sarah Wang: Pharmaceutical companies are expecting more and more from their in-house counsel in terms of diversification of legal specialization. With the companies undergoing transformation themselves, their in-house teams must align capacity building with business needs. For example, AstraZeneca has begun to pay attention to online hospitals and fund business and requires in-house teams to be capable of supporting new business. At present, our team not only has transaction lawyers, but also a four-member patent attorney team. Going forward, we also need lawyers who can support fund business.

On the other hand, as pharmaceutical companies continue to embrace digitalization, business units and in-house counsel are in fact learning together. This requires lawyers to grow together with the companies, to keep up with business, to remain curious about emerging areas, to be willing to learn and accept, and to adapt to new challenges together with the entire organization.

Jenny Zeng: Although a traditional industry, the healthcare sector has been undergoing constant innovations and changes in recent years. Only by having an in-house team that is well versed in both industry and business can we ensure steadiness amid changes. The team must tick two fundamental boxes: one is to always comply with laws and regulations, and the other is to have a deep understanding of the company's industry and business models, and the business logic of its products.

I have always encouraged my team to be bold enough to try and achieve successful "cross-overs" in three areas: industry, profession and hierarchy. Only in this way can the value of in-house counsel be maximized.

ALB: Digitization is gathering pace in China's healthcare sector. What support has your team provided for the company's business in light of such transformation?

Aaron Shao: Digitization will bring about disruptive innovation and may reshape the entire ecosystem of the healthcare industry. The successive promulgation of the Cyber Security Law, the Data Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law also points to gradual improvement in the legal framework governing cybersecurity, data security and personal information and privacy protection.

The in-house team needs to be deeply involved in the feasibility study of various digital innovation projects of business units, while at the same time ensuring data compliance of these projects. Meanwhile, the team also actively partners our data protection and cybersecurity departments to formulate and implement the company's compliance systems for such fields.

Sarah Wang: AstraZeneca has been committed to building an e-commerce ecosystem in the past several years. Some examples include the "AstraZeneca CICC Healthcare Venture Capital Fund" set up with the China International Capital Corporation and the establishment of the China business innovation hub in Wuxi. By partnering third parties, we hope to achieve synergy between related companies from testing, to diagnosis and treatment, and to follow-up care. In this process, the in-house team must be able to keep up pace with business directions, examine the compliance or business risks of projects at a higher level, and rely on effective communication to enable business units to understand relevant risks.

Jenny Zeng: Having worked in the Internet industry for many years, I am fully aware of the powerful spillover effects that digitization can produce. On the one hand, the cross-industry application and roll-out of digital information technology has accelerated systemization and automation of the healthcare sector. To support this revolution, the in-house team has comprehensively optimized the company's intellectual property management system to not only provide legal safeguards, but also develop a patent application technical assessment mechanism. On the other hand, the formulation and improvement of digital and information management rules are also gathering momentum in the healthcare sector. The team has been staying alert to changes and has stepped up research and analysis in this process. In fact, we launched special projects to enhance data security as early as 2019 in line with the national trend, striving to find the best path for business to be compliant.

ALB: In the past year, what have you and your team done to play a more active and important role in the company?

Aaron Shao: Abbott's Global Legal attaches great importance to the impacts the in-house team can have on the company. Therefore, our team must always have our eyes on the business issues that are truly important to the company, on top of providing outstanding legal support.

To this end, Abbott Greater China in-house team, apart from legal support for the company's major projects and strategic goals in the region, offers feasible and reasonable solutions targeting problems and phenomenon when providing legal solutions and suggestions, instead of merely making legal judgments. In addition, the team makes forward-looking and strategic analysis of areas where regulations are not yet clear, and is also committed to internal risks optimization and balanced risk management by evaluating the external environment and internal risks.

Sarah Wang: First of all, I think the company itself must be attractive enough to challenge team members with interesting and high-quality projects. I will actively help create opportunities for our team to participate in the company's large projects, while encouraging team members to keep an open mind and play an active role in project teams.

In addition, AstraZeneca's "Plan100" scheme provides employees with diversified job opportunities. As General Counsel, I need to have a deeper understanding of the needs of each member and help them create more opportunities based on such understanding. Finally, I also aim to help colleagues seek new opportunities within the entire organization.

Jenny Zeng: In my opinion, the role of the in-house team needs to be gradually upgraded from "transactional legal", to "management legal", to ultimately "strategic legal". At present, my team has completed the transition from "transactional" to "management", and is on course to grow into "strategic". This journey will be long and undoubtedly challenging, but we are never afraid of the arduous road ahead.

At the same time, I personally have been thinking about how General Counsel can better upgrade his/her role. For example, when a decision needs to be made at the company level, the General Counsel cannot only focus on the in-house team. Instead, he/she should make analysis based on professional judgment and in light of the company's strategic planning, main business direction and other higher-value levels. This requires the General Counsel to have a strategic mindset and an industry vision.

ALB: What are some of the priorities of your team in the next 12 months?

Aaron Shao: In terms of team building, we will focus on developing both team capacity and individual strength, and continuously optimizing our organizational culture.

In terms of legal work, we expect to prioritize the following three areas: 1. Continuously watch changes in laws and policies in the healthcare industry; 2. Focus our attention on anti-unfair competition, anti-monopoly, advertising and promotion, product quality and compliance; 3. Actively learn and explore new areas, including personal privacy protection, cyber and data security.

Finally, we are committed to improving industry standards so as to contribute to the construction of a healthy external environment and the active and healthy development of the industry as a whole.

Sarah Wang: First, as new laws and regulations are still being explored or have just been implemented, the in-house team aims to provide the company with clearer guidance going forward; second, the team should build up the capacity of our members by focusing on future development priorities; third, patent will be one of our key areas; and, fourth, with digitization and e-commerce remaining as pivotal future development directions for pharmaceutical companies, the team must gain a deeper understanding of new business formats.

Legal technology is also on our radar. Since we have already achieved a high degree of electronic management of contracts, we will pay more attention to new areas such as contract automation and AI in the future.

Jenny Zeng: My team will have only one focus: to be above competent as "management legal" while striving to realize the transition and upgrading to "strategic legal" sooner.

Laying a solid foundation, keeping an open mind, seeking integration and having high ambitions – these are words that best describe my expectations for the team. First, we must provide professional and efficient services for the company's business and operations, and such services must also come with a human touch. Second, I hope my team can be more forward-looking and proactive and create more value. Third, the team should have high aspirations. I am a firm believer that the in-house team is not simply a department to give professional opinions; rather, it is a function that creates value for the company.

 

To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com.