Karel Fucikovsky
Director General Mexico and Central America
Pierre Fabre Médicament
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View from the Top

Innovative Products from Health to Beauty

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 12:33

Q: Which markets does Pierre Fabre specifically target and how do you divide your two core business lines?

A: To date Pierre Fabre splits its two business lines in a deployed concept described as ‘From Health to Beauty’. The two companies of the group are Pierre Fabre Dermocosmetics and Pierre Fabre Médicament. Our concerns are divided between health (45%) and beauty (55%). Both Pierre Fabre Dermocosmetics and Médicament offer leading products in their respective sectors, and we are strong in gynecology, angiology, and general medicine, with one of our most distinguished products Navelbine Oral prescribed for patients suffering breast and lung cancer. We distinguish ourselves from other companies by working closely with our physicians to provide support on continuous medical education. Locally, we emphasize business development, so that we stand out as partner of choice for new entrepreneurial pharmaceutical companies seeking to enter the Mexican pharmaceutical market, as well as established companies requiring additional expertise and access capabilities. We have also worked with key leaders in the field of oncology to introduce a new PFM molecule to treat bladder cancer. We believe in innovation, invest heavily in R&D, and will continue to seek the support of legal and regulatory entities to ensure that innovation in pharmaceuticals will be available for the benefit of patients.

Q: What opportunities do you see in the Mexican dermocosmetic market?

A: The young dermocosmetic industry is not the only therapeutic sector rich in opportunities. Today there are more players in the sector, with a consumer base more aware of the treatment, brands, and access options, which generates more room for competition. The dermocosmetic market is attractive from a business perspective, as the typical consumer in this sector has a more voracious appetite for novel and ethical products and services. One challenge is to communicate with our consumers in an ethical and transparent way, while simultaneously listening to feedback. A process that depends on direct and digital marketing, customer relations management, database marketing, and person- to-person promotion at points of sale. This ensures product access at all points in the trade chain between our company and our distribution partners.

Q: Does Pierre Fabre share the current focus on orphan and specialized drug development?

A: We have commercialized an orphan drug to support bone marrow transplants to adult and pediatric patients. We also recently signed a local license agreement with Ferring Pharmaceuticals for the launch and distribution of tranexamic acid, a gynecological product already approved by COFEPRIS. However, a focus on highly specialized products and biopharmaceuticals is premature due to access constrictions and budget issues. That said, R&D investment for companies like Pierre Fabre is key to our long-term innovation strategies. As such, we continue to invest in oncology solutions, however I expect companies to reduce R&D budgets due to access limitations and patent protection losses. The Ministry of Health and COFEPRIS have significantly improved approval processes for innovation drugs, but access to the institutional market, remains a concern. The time it takes for a new molecule to reach the market from the laboratory stands at almost four-and-a-half years, longer than in other Latin American countries.

Q: How is the changing distribution landscape impacting the market and your strategies?

A: Old players are leaving the arena and major companies are continuing to expand. As chain pharmacies grow in number and enter new market territories, we see distributors seeking integral solutions for consumers and patients. The public health care system is also evolving, presenting lower operational and distribution costs, and improving services to patients. Distributors for the institutional sector are developing operations to optimize treatments for individual patients. This requires a substantial amount of investment and technology development. As new players integrate and different trade rules form, we expect to see major changes in the coming years.

Q: What social responsibility initiatives is Pierre Fabre working on in Mexico?

A: We work with the main healthcare institutions on chronic disease detection campaigns and programs. In future we expect to continue providing efficient, accessible treatments for various pathologies, like we have with Hemangiol, a product developed to treat hemangioma in pediatric patients. Thanks to its therapeutic success, Hemangiol has been rapidly approved by the FDA and is currently undergoing the COFEPRIS registration process.

Q: Pierre Fabre has a long history producing medicines from phytochemicals and natural extracts. Is the company continuing to develop this area? Is there confusion over phytochemicals and herbal supplements?

A: Pierre Fabre’s origins lie in the development of organic medicines. Fabroven is a root extract developed by our late founder, and it was on the back of this product that the company was founded. Fabroven has been in the market place for over 50 years, so it is a well-established, well-studied product which possesses solid scientific and medical recognition with an emphasis on its distinction from herbal supplements. Like any drug, phytopharmaceuticals comply with the highest standards of manufacture and quality assurance. European consumers are buying more natural products, while Mexico has a long history of using plants as medicines. Mexican universities such as the one at Chapingo conduct extensive research on plants, and their work on agave cactus fungi may well contribute to cancer treatments. The dermocosmetic market focuses greatly on R&D, not only to develop new products, but with an aim to enhancing existing products by adding new, beneficial components.

Q: CANIPEC and PROFECO signed an agreement banning products with ambiguous advertising. Has this new visibility been beneficial to the market?

A: Visibility is critical, and while there has been progress, there remains room for improvement. Chambers of commerce and our own authorities must continue working together to enhance the regulations and advertising of pharmaceuticals and dermocosmetics. As an industry, we will continue delivering safe, effective products and treatments to the market, and will continue to use the correct and appropriate advertising channels.

Q: What are your main objectives for the coming years?

A: Our pharmaceutical business has much more to deliver from an organic growth perspective. This is a priority of ours. We will continue to establish strong alliances with local and multinational companies to promote and distribute products. We are also in negotiations with other global pharmaceutical companies such as Medinova and Medigene, whose innovative products are ready for promotion within the women’s health market, a segment that we aim to prioritize.