Américo García
Director General
Mexico and Latin America at Apotex
View from the Top

Biosimilars an Opportunity to Transform the Pharmaceutical Market

By Alessa Flores | Tue, 07/16/2019 - 17:52

Q: How has Apotex advanced in growing its chronic degenerative diseases portfolio?
A: We maintain our efforts to penetrate the market for central nervous diseases medications, which has not been easy. Doctors in this area perceive us as newcomers so it has been hard to convince them to use our medications. This year, we will focus on strengthening our portfolio. We also launched a new division in Mexico called “cardio-analgesic” that handles both cardiology and analgesic products.
Q: Considering Mexico’s epidemiological profile and the change in the population pyramid, what business opportunities do you see in the coming years for Apotex?
A: Mexico is an interesting market. Part of it behaves as an emerging market and another as a mature one because the change in the population pyramid is more common to mature markets. As Mexicans live longer, they are much more prone to chronic neurodegenerative diseases, which will undoubtedly increase, along with diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases. At the same time, there is a significant poverty rate in the country. This segment of the population is more sensitive to acute diseases, such as dengue. As a result, Apotex has invested in products for both markets through the generation of specialized strategies.
Q: How is Apotex contributing to the administration’s goal to increase access to medications?
A: Universal healthcare coverage should be the ultimate goal of any healthcare system. However, this will be hard to achieve with the current state of the Mexican healthcare system. It is necessary to develop a long-term strategy that operates no matter which party is leading the country. The former administration made an effort to increase patient interchangeability among public institutions, which was a good first step. It would also be convenient to merge public healthcare institutions, which will be a complex and long-term process that must be done in a sustainable way.
The current administration has greatly reduced the budget for several areas in the healthcare sector. Among OECD countries, Mexico is among the lowest investors in healthcare as a percentage of GDP, so the only solution to improve the system is to increase public investment. It is not possible to achieve healthcare for all by reducing the budget.
Q: What trends are affecting the generics and biosimilars industry worldwide and in Mexico?
A: Biosimilars are expected to change the industry and they have brought significant advantages to those countries in Europe and the Americas that have adopted them. We launched a biosimilar in Canada that resulted in significant savings to its healthcare system. However, these products have failed to enter many regions, such as the US, which has extremely high barriers for the introduction of biosimilars. The story is similar in Mexico. While some products have been approved, their registration takes a very long time. We are in a transition period for the regulation and acceptance of biosimilars. Generics, on the other hand, are growing at an accelerated pace. A trend we see in the Latin American market is the consolidation of pharmacy chains, which later release their own branded generics. This is destroying independent pharmacies and generating oligopolies. For instance, Chile has three large pharmacy chains that control most of that market. We are beginning to see this phenomenon in Mexico and we have to prevent it to avoid the death of independent pharmacies, which will eventually hurt patients.  
Q: What are Apotex’s main goals for 2019 and what are your expectations for the future of the pharmaceutical industry?
A: Over the past five years, we have positioned Apotex in the Mexican market and doubled our sales. In the short term, my goal is to double the size of the company again, following our quality commitments to continue benefiting patients. To do so, we will focus on incorporating other therapeutic areas, exploring new market niches, growing the areas where we are strong and creating a closer relationship with our current clients. In the future, we want to see Mexican institutions strengthened and rule of law continued.

Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst