Remembering Harrison Cook, Vice President for International Government Affairs at Eli Lilly and Company

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor October 11, 2019


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Guest authors of this blog are:

  • Patrik Jonsson, Senior Vice President and President, Lilly Bio-Medicines / Former President, Eli Lilly Japan and Former Chair, PhRMA Japan-Based Executive Committee
  • Mie Kitano, Senior Director Corporate Affairs, Eli Lilly Japan
  • Amy Jackson, Representative Director, PhRMA Japan

Eli Lilly and Company, PhRMA, the American government and industry colleagues and counterparts in Japan and Washington, D.C., are facing a great void; we have lost an important and admired family member. Harrison Cook passed away unexpectedly on September 23, 2019. He was 50-years-old. To say that we will miss him does not capture the magnitude of this loss.

Harrison had a long and rich history in the public and private sector working to strengthen and deepen ties between the United States and Japan. He was Vice President for International Government Affairs at Eli Lilly and Company. He had previously served as Chief of Deregulation and Trade Policy in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Japan. At Lilly, he was a vital connection between the company and its partners in Japan, as well as China and elsewhere. He was also a great champion of the U.S.-Japan Business Council and furthered its mission of strengthening economic bonds between America and Japan. His engagement and leadership in PhRMA, especially with the Japan Based Executive Committee (JBEC), had a tremendous impact as well. These relationships are strong today because of Harrison; they are part of his legacy.

So too was his work in trade and government affairs and his efforts in driving policies outside the United States to ensure that patients around the world have access to the most innovative medicines in as early a timeframe as is possible. These efforts are and will continue to be recognized across the entire research-based biopharmaceutical industry.

We came to know him during different stages of our careers in the United States and Japan. He was an advisor and a friend. Harrison’s always calm demeanor was reassuring, his knowledge was deep, his expertise invaluable. His ideas and proposals were constantly forward leaning and patient-focused.

Our perspective on Harrison, though, is not unique. In the days following his death, we have seen stirring tributes from within and beyond the industry and from many external counterparts to him from around the world. They mention that he was a willing mentor and collaborator. They speak of his humility and grace. And they remember the love he had and pride he took in his wife Yumiko Cook and son Hiroki Cook.

Sadly, words can do so little to stop or even lessen the pain grief brings. And we don’t expect these to be an exception, not for the family he cherished, or for the colleagues and friends he leaves behind. We do hope though, that they will remind us today and in the days to come of his many contributions to our industry, which were numerous, the positive impact he had on his coworkers, which was immeasurable, and the contributions he made to U.S.-Japan relations.

He will never be truly replaced and certainly not forgotten.