Marco Ruggiero
General Manager
Chiesi Mexico
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View from the Top

Innovation to Relieve a Suffocated Sector

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 04/16/2021 - 09:23

Q: What factors drove Chiesi Mexico’s 36 percent growth last year?

A: Chiesi’s product portfolio is focused on respiratory diseases and as COVID-19’s main affectation is on the respiratory system; our products were used as part of the recovery treatment against the virus. Asthmatic and EPOC patients enhanced their preventive measures because they are aware of the impacts of COVID-19, so adherence to treatment has been stronger and medicine consumption more frequent, as well.

Regarding our work with the government on specialized products, we have experienced delays with INSABI related to our neonatal products. However, we saw a recovery in 4Q20 after INSABI released its purchasing orders.

Q: Chiesi recently introduced a care model based on an ethical approach to patients, families and care providers. What is the main purpose of this approach?

A: This is a global initiative from Chiesi based on patient-centric activities that favor health. We empathetically approach patients to understand their needs, regardless if Chiesi is the provider of their solution. We want to improve patients’ quality of life and save the lives of those suffering from complex diseases. We are restructuring the management of our business and our approach to patients and their environment.

This also aligns with Chiesi’s pillars: Air, Rare and Care. Air relates to the respiratory system, which is our core focus. Care stands for transplant and critical or specialized-care patients. Rare is our latest expansion area. It focuses on rare diseases and on finding a treatment for unmet patient needs.

Q: How has Chiesi approached the government’s changes regarding medicine supply?

A: There is still no improvement regarding this complex subject, which remains a significant problem for the local industry. Since 2019, the government has wanted to radically transform the healthcare system through a necessary reform. However, the rules for this reform are still not clear and there are gaps to fill. We had a tender in the second half of 2019; just one tender in 2020, which generated medicine shortages due to poor management processes; and the UNOPS tenders in 2021. UNOPS is internationally recognized for its medicine supply, transparency and clear rules, which are positive assets and raised the expectations for this year’s supply. However, we are facing the same scenario as last year, with unfulfilled contracts.

With this uncertainty, it has been difficult for Chiesi to formulate a response. However, we remain flexible and open to change to continue supplying as many patients as possible. As a provider, we want a clear schedule with defined timelines.

Q: How does this uncertainty damage Mexico’s position as an important player in the pharmaceutical industry?

A: This firstly affects patients because they could not receive their medicines on time in governmental sector. For the industry, it creates complexity and doubt. Both multinational and national companies require profits to continue working, which can be compromised if Mexico prevents transparency in this sector. This can convince multinational companies to reconsider their plans for Mexico and their investment intentions.

Q: How will innovation be impacted by the arrival of COFEPRIS’ new Commissioner Alejandro Svarch?

A: Fortunately, this change has been welcomed by the industry. For the past two years, the industry has failed to establish an effective communication channel with COFEPRIS. This was a great threat for the country, the industry and COFEPRIS itself because we are allies and actors of positive change for national health and innovation.

With Commissioner Svarch, we have already experienced open communication, which we receive with open arms. As an industry, we are looking forward to working together to introduce more innovation to Mexico and, therefore, provide specialized therapies for patients. It is very positive to see this change after the misguided approach of the last couple years.

For now, we want to get our approvals back on track regarding medicines and new molecules, which have been on hold for a while. These delays represent an economic impact for the industry as we have not seen investment returns for these innovations.

Q: What are Chiesi’s priorities for 2021?

A: One of Chiesi’s priorities is to get our new plant approved, which has been pending a response for two years. Normally, COFEPRIS would have a response within 60 days. We have other products waiting for approvals that we would like to introduce to the market as soon as possible to strengthen our therapeutic options for Mexican patients. We also want to see more clarity regarding the UNOPS tender process, while also collecting what is pending from our government’s medicine supply of 2020 and 2019. INSABI’s payment process has been frozen since the second half of 2019. This has put us in a difficult position given that we have to work with a limited cash flow.

 

Chiesi Group is an Italian pharmaceutical manufacturer with 29 global subsidiaries and direct distribution in 60 countries. Its therapeutic treatments are focused on respiratory, neonatology and rare diseases.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst