Ambassador Pyatt’s Remarks at Prix Galien 2021 Awards Ceremony

Zappeion Megaron, Athens

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

As Delivered

Kalispera sas!  I want to start by thanking Prix Galien for inviting me back to present the award for Outstanding Greek Leaders of the Global Pharmaceutical Industry.  

Especially in 2021, I’m proud to be here with friends like Minister Pierrakakis, who did so much to help us to navigate the challenges of COVID 19, and with so many of our American pharmaceutical companies that have led the way in this global battle.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s a greater appreciation for the men and women scientists and doctors, lab techs and nurses who dedicate their lives to promoting and preserving our good health.  And in this regard, I especially want to congratulate the newly sworn-in Deputy Minister of Health of the Hellenic Republic who is with us here tonight.  Sygcharitiria Minister!

I’m very proud of the strong partnership between the United States and Greece in the healthcare sector, and in particular the outstanding success of Greek American leaders in this field.  Their groundbreaking research has saved lives and improved the quality of care around the world.  

When I presented this award to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in 2019, we had no idea what the next year would bring, nor just how much Albert would come to deserve the title of “Outstanding Global Leader of the Pharmaceutical Industry.”  And so to Albert, Zachary, and thousands of Pfizer employees around the world, let me tonight offer my sincere thanks for the gift of life that you have given to us all.

Against this very high bar, it’s a pleasure to present this year’s Prix Galien award for Outstanding Greek Leaders of the Global Pharmaceutical Industry to two other distinguished Greek-American leaders, Biogen Chairman Dr. Stelios Papadopoulos and CEO Michel Vounatsos.  

Under their leadership, Biogen has been recognized as a pioneer in neuroscience, developing and delivering innovative therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases worldwide.

For over 40 years, Biogen has played an important role in advancing the field of biotechnology, developing therapies for multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. 

In June, the American FDA granted accelerated approval for Biogen’s new drug ADUHELM, a therapy that gives hope to patients, advocates, and groups like the Alzheimer’s Association, heralding a new era in Alzheimer’s disease care.

Dr. Stelios Papadopoulos has served on Biogen’s Board of Directors since 2008 and was appointed Chairman in July 2014.  And Stelios, now that I know you’re another proud son of Thessaloniki, I hope I can take you on a tour of the innovation hub there to see if Biogen can join Pfizer, Cisco, and the other top U.S. technology and pharmaceutical companies that have expanded their footprint in your hometown.   

Stelios shares the award tonight with Bingen CEO Michel Vounatsos.  As a French national of Greek extraction who was born in Morocco, studied in France, and as we discussed at the break has worked in Europe, the Middle East, China, and around the world, Michel perfectly fits the description of a global leader.  He spent 20 years at Merck before coming to Biogen in 2016, and he has served as Biogen’s CEO since 2017.

Biogen’s track record of innovation goes hand in hand with a strong spirit of corporate social responsibility.  In 2020, Biogen was named the #1 biotechnology company on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the fifth time.  

I was also pleased to see that Michel signed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace, as well as the Pledge for a More Equitable and Inclusive Life Sciences Industry.  And for the eighth year, Biogen was recognized as the “Best Place to Work” for LGBTQ equality in the United States.

Meanwhile, the Biogen Foundation granted $18.9 million in 2020 to allow 100 organizations to carry on their work in two core focus areas:  science education and support for essential human services, in addition to committing $10 million to COVID-19 relief around the world. 

Biogen helped to expand access to testing, ease the burden on healthcare systems and workers, and provide food and necessities to vulnerable populations. 

As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Greek independence and look forward to a brighter, healthier future, I commend Prix Galien Greece for honoring those in the healthcare industry who have dedicated their careers to enhancing the quality of human life.  

It is impossible to measure the impact that distinguished American pharmaceutical industry leaders like Stelios and Michel have had on individual lives, communities, and entire countries.  It is therefore my great honor to present Stelios and Michel with the Outstanding Greek Leaders award of the global pharmaceutical industry.  

Stelios, Michel, Sygcharitiria!