Óscar Parra
General Manager

Lundbeck to Fight Depression in Mexico

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 09:24

There are few companies in the world dedicated to bringing innovation to central nervous system (CNS) diseases, which are often neglected due to societal stigma. CNS disorders are debilitating to the extent that patients end up unable to take care of themselves at all, impacting the lives of relatives. Despite being well known, depression is still an underdiagnosed disease and recent findings indicate that it will be among the most debilitating diseases in the world in the next decade, even more so than diabetes and with a detrimental effect on quality of life and productivity. Lundbeck is committed to providing solutions to 60 million people worldwide suffering from depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, sleep disorders and schizophrenia through cutting-edge research and new products. This will improve the lives of many people who would otherwise lose years if not decades of good quality of life.

Mexico is one of the top regions for the company and often provides invaluable input for its global strategy. For instance, Mexico was involved in a project related to the development of an anti-depressant two years before it was launched on a global scale. Lundbeck is not exempt from the wave of patent expirations taking place in the pharmaceutical industry and its strategy to mitigate this is through a stronger focus on innovation. In the next couple of years it will launch a new drug for sleep disorders followed by an anti-psychotic. “I am confident that we have many interesting growth opportunities in the future,” says Óscar Parra, General Manager of Lundbeck Mexico. The central nervous system segment is flooded with generics – just one of Lundbeck’s molecules competes against 20 generics. Therefore, Parra continues working with a business model that includes visits to physicians and information exchanges. In the last five years, the acceptance of generics has grown significantly among the population, leading multinational companies to maintain their competitive position through innovation.

People with mental disorders are still stigmatized in Mexico, which is a harsh reality to accept. “We are used to seeing people in leg casts but mental disorders are so difficult for people to understand because they affect individual emotions and behavior,” explains Parra. In Mexico, development of proper diagnosis and advanced knowledge on the impact of such diseases is necessary. Mexico has a demographic bonus expected to drive economic growth and prosperity but Parra agrees on the impossibility to grasp this opportunity without a healthy population. Untreated depression severely impacts individual productivity and can reduce thousands of productive hours due to absenteeism, as diabetes already does. Lundbeck is engaged in this kind of constructive discussion with the authorities and is committed to providing continuous medical education for physicians in direct contact with patients. Digital tools available online are also offered to create awareness about this issue.

At this point, Lundbeck is focused on prescription medicines in the private market. “Of course the public sector is relevant to us and currently there are a great deal of discussions regarding market access,” says Parra. When a medicine is approved by COFEPRIS it is ready to be commercialized in the private market but it still has a long way to go in the public sector. This does not mean the company discards entering this segment. The private sector has its own hurdles. Most psychiatric disorders are not reimbursed by private insurances and as explained by Parra, depression is one of the diseases that will most impact productivity in the private sector.

With Mexico’s progress in the clinical research field, Lundbeck has conducted several clinical trials in both private and public research centers. For innovative companies the southern area of Mexico City is highly attractive due to the extraordinary density of highly specialized physicians and healthcare companies. “As for the role clinical trials play in improving new drug approval processes and inclusion to basic formularies, conducting a clinical trial in public institutions does not provide any benefit for admittance of new drugs into basic formularies,” Parra says. Clinical trials and drug inclusion are two very different processes but could greatly improve if they were connected. Moreover, Lundbeck might benefit in the future from COFEPRIS’ recognition by other regulatory agencies in Latin America where Lundbeck has a direct and indirect presence. “I think there are two ways to look at things," Parra says. "Compared to the past, things could look rather difficult now but examining the situation of other countries Mexico has fewer challenges in comparison and has copious business opportunities.”