My name is Dr. Uwe Gessner and I’m a Senior Manager in the Scientific Affairs department of Bayer Vital GmbH in Leverkusen. As part of this role, I work for Consumer Health. I have been at Bayer since 1984, having started out as a field force employee in the hospital segment. My responsibilities today include providing scientific support for our brand-name pain and cold remedies, i.e. Aspirin, Aspirin Plus C, Aspirin Complex, Aktren and Aleve.
I work closely with a number of different departments in the process, such as Approvals, Marketing, Trade Marketing, Market Research, Legal Affairs and Communications. My tasks include checking whether texts are scientifically correct, preparing scientific content for training classes, reviewing advertising materials of all kinds to ensure their scientific correctness, giving input on plans for new product developments and much more. My duties further include conducting studies on the products I manage, monitoring competitor activity, formulating scientific position statements, training field force staff, supporting experts and opinion leaders, and answering scientific questions.
At Consumer Health, effective interdepartmental collaboration is given high priority, and it undoubtedly is a major part of the success of our unit. It not only makes work more fun, it also frequently is a creative process in which all participants can think outside the box and come up with new ideas. Not every idea leads to success, of course, but every single successful innovation starts with a good idea.
Focus on the customer
Our focus is always on the customer. In my case that often means the pharmacists who need our/my expertise when they have very specific questions. My goal is to provide a scientifically sound and prompt answer to each one of these inquiries. A lot of times I can rely on my experience and knowledge of the literature, but occasionally some literature research may also be necessary, and that’s always a good opportunity to expand my horizons and deepen my knowledge.
I have been working with Aspirin on a daily basis for the last 25 years. When I started out, Aspirin had already been around for over 90 years. Nevertheless, it was still coming out in new delivery forms – as it continues to do today – for the benefit of patients. Take for example the development of the Aspirin tablet with micro-active technology, which replaced the previous tablet in 2014. Thanks to its unique formulation technology, it dissolves much more rapidly and relieves pain twice as fast as the previous tablet. There also is a never-ending stream of scientific publications on the active ingredient in Aspirin, such as on new facets of its mechanism of action or potential new fields of application. Several thousand publications a year on acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) are not uncommon!
One of the most impressive experiences I have had while working for Bayer was attending a symposium held in April 1997 in Venice that marked the 100th anniversary of acetylsalicylic acid. Meeting and exchanging ideas with some of the leading and most distinguished researchers was a very memorable experience, and one that considerably broadened my scientific knowledge. Among them was Sir John Vane from London, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1982 for unraveling the mode of action of ASA. New friendships and collaborations were born and have lasted right up until today.
Taking care of tomorrow today
When I retire at the end of next year, I would like to do so knowing that I have passed on as much of my knowledge and experience as I can to my successor. That’s why I already have a young colleague working with me who is learning the ropes of this complex subject and familiarizing himself with the extensive scientific literature. And we really learn from one another, because fresh, new ideas are always welcome.
So I have no doubt that even after my time at Bayer, Aspirin will continue to be in good hands and be a success, as it has been for the last 118 years.
This post is also available in: German