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In 1997, when Teva was about to market Copaxone in the US, Teva's management decided that a pharmacovigilance unit was needed to actively protect patients, ensure the safe use of the drug and safeguard the interests of the company.
At exactly that time, Dr. Hedva Voliovitch of the Weizmann Institute of Science was at a crossroads. She was trying to decide whether to continue as a researcher or to return to a medical management position. Teva's want ad came just in time. The position offered Dr. Voliovitch a combination of all her aspirations - medicine, research and industry. She recalls, "I'd spent years following Teva and its CEO Eli Hurvitz. The achievements, the vision, the breakthrough to the international market and developing Copaxone - all these were fascinating to me, and here I had a chance to become a part of it."
Hedva took on the mission of setting up Teva's pharmacovigilance unit. She started by recruiting Sigal Gal, a clinical nutritionist, and they began writing procedures, learning how to write reports and building the first database. Together they laid the foundation of Teva's pharmacovigilance approach. Soon it became apparent that there was a need for pharmacovigilance both for innovative and generic products. In addition, Teva’s accelerated globalization process required the establishment of a global pharmacovigilance department. The unit expanded accordingly, and today the department, headed by Dr. Voliovitch, includes some 300 employees, with 60 in Israel. Most are female doctors, pharmacists and biologists.
Dr. Voliovitch nurtures the team spirit and sense of unity among the unit's employees, both female and male. She does this, among other things, by encouraging contribution to the community and by publishing a periodic newsletter for the unit. There is no doubt that the positive atmosphere and the mutual admiration between all levels creates a remarkable degree of cohesion that unites the female, as well as male, employees. As Rinat Lifshitz-Shovali, Head of Pharmacovigilance Quality, says, "I have met amazing women here who manage to fulfill themselves and find the right balance between all the roles in their lives. These are smart, strong women, and they're a source of inspiration for me on a daily basis."