Alfredo Rimoch
Director General
Liomont Laboratories
View from the Top

Biotechnology, the Science of the Present

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 11:34

Q: What are Liomont’s most important contributions to the Mexican pharmaceutical industry?
A: Liomont has about 2.7 percent market share and has brought products to a broader range of the population. We have created a number of alliances with academic institutions such as the Institute of Biotechnology of UNAM and the National Genomics Laboratory for Biodiversity (LANGEBIO) of CINVESTAV. Liomont is an active participant in associations such as ANAFAM, CANIFARMA and the Mexican Pharmaceutical Council (CFM). We have entered the field of biotechnology with the first recombinant influenza vaccine and we are working on the development of an anti-zika vaccine in collaboration within an international consortium that includes companies from Argentina, Brazil, Japan, the US and Mexico.

Q: At what stage of development is the zika vaccine and what testing does Liomont do in Mexico?
A: Clinical trials for the zika vaccine will start soon through a program with a partner company called Protein Sciences. Liomont has started an important clinical trial of its influenza vaccine in Mexico with children between six months and 18 years. We are developing two biosimilar products together with the company Oncobiologics. The phase I clinical trials for those products have already concluded. We have also developed another monoclonal antibody in collaboration with the Institute of Biotechnology of UNAM.

Q: What sector presents the greatest opportunity for Liomont?
A: Liomont is mainly present in pain, respiratory, gastrointestinal, antivirals and antibiotics. In terms of economic sectors, Liomont is mainly focused on the private market. Even though 40 percent of Liomont’s products are destined for the public sector, sales in this sector only amount to 6 percent of the company’s income. In terms of regulations, clinical trials have become more complex and expensive. We need transparency and support in terms of intellectual property and regulations.

Q: What are the challenges associated with introducing biotech medicines to Mexico?
A: It is an expensive process that we have approached through two different routes. The first is by allying with foreign companies such as Oncobiologics and another one in Spain. We are also preparing some of the test designs, while some of the protocols are being approved by COFEPRIS. The second approach is through alliances with local universities. Liomont creates projects with scientists from academic institutions. The government has limited funds but it is the main buyer of biotech and high-specialty drugs in Mexico. Liomont must achieve accessible prices to supply the demand for these products in the public sector.

Q: How does Liomont compete in the generic business with pharmacy chains that develop their own brands?
A: Physicians know Liomont’s products, they trust our brands and prescribe them. However, pharmacists often substitute the prescribed product for a generic house brand. A change in the Regulation of Health Inputs requires doctors to prescribe an active ingredient, as well as a brand, which has boosted consumer awareness of prices. Nevertheless, Article 79 of the same regulation states that if there is a substitution, this must be authorized by the physician who wrote the prescription. If not, the product supplied must be the brand as prescribed. Our main strategy to prevent generic substitution is based on the doctors associating our products with quality and trust, so that their prescriptions are supplied as they are issued, and not substituted.

Q: What are your development plans in the short term?

A: Liomont will continue marketing the trivalent version of its biotech influenza vaccine while filing with COFEPRIS for the tetravalent version that will be sold in 2018. Liomont is building a manufacturing and distribution site in the State of Mexico. In the area of generics, Liomont will be launching around six new brands in Mexico each year.