Rodrigo Puga
President and Country Manager
Pfizer Mexico
View from the Top

Investment Necessary to Accelerate Access to Medications

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 18:20

Q: How will Pfizer's US$26 million investment at its Toluca plant accelerate the launching of new products in Mexico?
A: We are planning to improve our manufacturing plant to ensure that our products are manufactured using state-of-the-art technology. Our investment in clinical trials is directly linked to launching new molecules in the market. We have roughly 30 clinical trials in Mexico with approximately 500 patients and we are collaborating with research centers across the globe to generate data to bring these breakthroughs to the market. We are also investing in scientific projects through Instituto Científico Pfizer (Pfizer Scientific Institute).
Pfizer’s new mission is to be able to launch innovative medicines that change patients’ lives at a faster pace. Patients are at the center of everything we do and innovation is our driving force. We do not want medicines that are just a bit different; we want to find breakthroughs that save patients’ lives. Innovation has characterized Pfizer for 170 years.
Q: How is Pfizer adapting its R&D strategy to address existing and future healthcare problems?
A: About 15 percent of Pfizer’s global profit – approximately US$8 billion – is used to fund R&D every year in many therapeutic areas. At this point, we are focusing on those diseases where we can generate significant scientific advances and on those that have been overlooked. We are investing in oncology, inflammation, immunology, new vaccines, rare diseases, antibiotics and cardiovascular diseases. One of our products uses genetic modifications to cure hemophilia type A and B. We are also developing new antibiotics to combat superbugs. Unchecked, antimicrobial resistance will kill more people than cancer by 2050, at an estimated rate of 10 million lives per year. Our goal is to launch 25 new therapies by 2025.
Q: What role will genetic medicine play in Pfizer’s pipeline and how are you involving local institutions in this research?
A: Genetic medicine will play a major role in our strategy, as a significant part of our efforts to discover new medications uses and new information about the human genome. Our scientists are modifying genes from patients so their own bodies can fight diseases that have no treatment. Genetic medicine and immunotherapy are becoming increasingly important in pharmaceutical research. The latter has led to the development of immune-oncology, which aims to modify the immune system to fight cancer cells without medication.
In 2018, we established an alliance with INMEGEN to strengthen research on the Mexican genome to develop treatments specifically for the local population. Genetics can change significantly from one area to the next. Our goal is to use this alliance to understand the genome of local populations. For the past 15 years, Pfizer’s Scientific Institute has allied with scientists and institutions to bring basic research to Mexico. We also work with local universities and the National Medicine Academy to recognize the best medical students from all universities.
Q: What are the main access barriers Pfizer has identified in the Mexican market and how are you overcoming them?
A: Since January 2019, the company has been directed by Albert Boula, who is reinforcing our position to put patients at the center and our focus on developing markets to look for ways to make innovative medications more available to patients. We are becoming more creative in developing ways to increase access to healthcare, such as developing innovative payment schemes that will increase access by allowing public institutions to pay for results instead of products.
Mexico has some of the greatest challenges in the region regarding the introduction of innovative medications. For every 100 medications registered in Mexico, only four reach the patients who need them. For instance, we have a product that treats metastatic breast cancer and doubles life expectancy. However, patients in the public system cannot access this medication. Moreover, introducing innovative medicines to public institutions takes around five years. Mexico must recognize the benefits of increasing access to health.