Tomás Bordonaba
Director General
View from the Top

Bringing Better Pain Management Solutions

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 12:25

Q: Grünenthal established operations in Mexico in 1998. Since then, how has Grünenthal come to consider the potential of the Mexican market?

A: Latin America is Grünenthal’s engine of growth. Our sales in Latin America have reached US$500 million and we aim to double that to US$1 billion by 2020. This would see our operations in the region surpass those in Europe. Naturally, Mexico and Brazil will be vital in making that strategy feasible. Curiously, Mexico and Brazil are among the youngest companies in the group with Grünenthal only having been established in Brazil three years ago. In comparison, we began operating in Peru in 1968 and in Ecuador in 1973. This means we have less products and sales in Mexico and Brazil than in the rest of Latin America, but we are confident that the market here will grow faster. In Mexico, Grünenthal has already reached US$51 million in sales but we want to achieve US$100 million by 2018.

Q: What is your current strategy for the local market?

A: We are looking to maximize the presence of our existing product portfolio among the private and public health sectors. We are also seeking to accelerate the launch of new products and our access to institutions. This has led us to launch three new products in the last two years with one of these, Palexia, obtaining National Formulary approval in record time. Our third strategy is business development, in which we are looking for new companies and brands to acquire in Mexico and Brazil.

Q: Why do you feel Palexia was able to be approved in the National Formulary so quickly?

A: Palexia was approved in seven to eight months as opposed to the four year average. The reason Palexia was so quick in securing approval is that it is a new product which provides an effective value proposition for chronic pain. As opposed to strong opioids like morphine, Palexia works based on a dual mechanism. It is particularly good at handling combinations of neuropathic and regular pain. It also has fewer side-effects than its competitors while being available at a reasonable price. We are now in the process of getting the approval of institutions like IMSS, ISSSTE and Seguro Popular.

Q: What is the most difficult part of submitting applications to different institutions?

A: We have to customize our value proposition to specific countries and institutions. Our submissions show the result of global clinical trials, compare the price point with that of the competition, and also show how each drug will impact Mexico’s epidemiological profile.

Q: Grünenthal has global clinical trials and invests significantly in R&D. Do you hope to carry out clinical trials and R&D in Mexico?

A: This area is now more accessible in Mexico and presents considerable opportunity. This finally allows public institutions to benefit from clinical trials in the same way as the private sector has for years. It will also give Mexico a lot of exposure around the world. As for Grünenthal, we have two or three clinical trials underway in a combination of private sector hospitals and smaller public sector facilities. Until now, we have not been able to access larger public institutions for clinical trials but we would be very happy to revisit this subject with IMSS. Mexico has excellent research centers that will provide good results but this has not yet been explored on a large scale.

Q: What training and education programs do you provide for physicians to become familiar with your products?

A: We invest significantly in medical education, especially to deal with chronic pain which is not given enough attention in Mexico, despite the fact that 30 million people suffer from chronic pain. This ranges from back pain, which is the main cause of debilitation in Mexico, to terminal illnesses which cause sufferers to die in a great deal of pain. Early detection is vital in order to prevent pain from becoming chronic. Our flagship program is called Change Pain, which presents a range of tools, such as online classes, live courses for hospitals, and specific workshops for areas like cancer or palliative care. We also teach how to use the drugs available in Mexico to treat different types of pain. This remains a priority for Grünenthal.

Q: How are you advancing the state of palliative care in Mexico?

A: As part of our battle against chronic pain, we are advocating for better palliative care practices, which sees us work alongside organizations like FUNSALUD. It is unquestionable that advances in this field will benefit patients and their families. But the Mexican mindset about death does not make this an accessible topic. However, the country is accumulating more palliative care specialists as people age in the country. One effective practice has been put in place at the National Pediatrics Institute, where parents are trained in palliative pediatric care and the hospital takes equipment to the patients’ home, which reduces the level of stress for the patient and for the family.

Q: What are your top priorities in 2015?

A: We need to continue growing by maintaining the regular launch of new products, marketing successfully, and boosting our presence in private and public institutions. We also want to help develop palliative care initiatives that are being put in place by the government. We feel this is a crucial issue in Mexico. Additionally, we are always looking for advantageous companies to acquire. We integrated Empresas Andrómaco in Chile in 2013 and we would like to replicate that with Mexican firms that have a history of growth and whose products, like ours, have a degree of differentiation.