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News Article

Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, and Mexico’s New Health Economy

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 12:39

The first panel’s moderator, Xavier Valdez, General Manager of Mexico and North Latin America of IMS Health, began the panel on Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, and Mexico’s New Health Economy for 2020 presenting the predicted global industry growth of 3-6%, much of which will come from emerging economies. He explained the main tendencies in legislature, drawing attention to the Orphan Drugs Act and 21st Century Cures Act, and also collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and ONGs. Genomics and patient-led efforts are increasing in popularity, according to Xavier Valdez, leading to new players in the industry.

As patients gain more access to their treatment information, and companies are under more pressure to make products more cost effective, biological products, and biocomparables are rising in number and are overtaking small molecules, continued Valdez. He opened the discussion asking panelists about the industry vision for the next 5 years. Dr. Dagoberto Cortés Cervantes, Director General of Hormona and President of ANAFAM’s first contribution was his description of the pharmaceutical industry as one of the few that depends on continued innovation. In the past pharmaceutical companies created drugs aimed at young adults and children, specifically for infectious diseases, but this has changed. “Molecular innovators have had to develop new technologies to combat new diseases and refocus on obesity and diabetes to reflect the changes in the most common diseases,” he mentioned.

Félix Scott, Director General of Sanofi Mexico began by congratulating COFEPRIS on the advancements made in the health industry. He pointed out that the focus on degenerative diseases is a major focus, but considers that the consequences following diseases of this type are much greater than the price of the medicine required to treat them. “The health system must reflect this, and move toward a system that provides solutions and patient control.

Astovastatina, for example, has dropped its price considerably to become more accessible, but patients cannot depend solely on this, he expounded. “Pathological and therapeutic technology must help doctors to monitor patients and ensure they follow through with their treatment.”

Sandra Sanchez y Oldenhage, Deputy CEO of PROBIOMED, commented on the different players in the market catering to the 9 million diabetics in Mexico and the country’s first position in child obesity. COFEPRIS’s first presentation stated that 6.2% of GDP is dedicated to health and medicine, considerably lower than the global average of 9%, said Sanchéz y Oldenhage. This has left a gap in the industry requiring the expansion of big data and clinical trials, lower priced treatment, and the creation of biosimilars and biocomparables according to Sanchéz. “The generation of coexistence of the health institutions with generics, biocomparables, and R&D is crucial for the future of the industry.”

José Alberto Peña, Vice President and General Manager of GlaxoSmithKline, recognized that “health is not the government’s priority.” He demands the change of mentality from health being an expense to being an investment, and suggests that innovation is the way to make the system work more effectively. The low level of spending in public health has not been changed since the pharmaceutical industry began. The commercial side also needs to evolve to reflect how companies interact with doctors, and promote diversification into more coordinated contact and the involvement of technology.

Sanchéz commented that the highest ever average age of the Mexican demographic will be much greater than the global average, which will test the health industry more than ever. Valdéz reopened the topic of difficulties faced with acquiring products with very high prices in the public sector. Cortés Cervantes expanded on the fact that the government cannot solve the problem alone, and that collaboration and shared responsibility, including suppliers, is the only way forward. He pointed out that the industry used to do a lot to expand disease prevention, having health insurance is positive on paper, but it does not mean that the health industry is able to help everyone covered if government spending is cut further.

Scott affirms that this type of transformation takes time. The reinvestment of savings must be guaranteed to the health system, he said, “and the tax specifically on foods with high fat content, must also be invested in the health sector, to aid the tax’s aim to reduce obesity in Mexico.” Sanchéz added that as an industry, fragmentation is more of a challenge than added value for the nation. The existence of so many different institutions creates confusion and bureaucracy limits access to medications. Peña agreed that access is important, but that education is also extremely important. “The whole population must understand that health is not when someone gets sick, but rather preventing illnesses in the first place.”

Valdéz continued by asking about accessible products, and Peña answered that the profitable model of products having a limited life cycle is not being reinvested in innovation, which means that generics will not be created. He finished his point saying that quality monitoring takes a back position as soon as a medicine has been released, but that there should be more control even on existing medicine.

Sanchez added that biotechnologicals and biocomparables are a topic that will be an import trend in the industry. Scott also said that as more patents expire, generics will grow in number, “however, companies must begin to contribute to the development of innovative products, not just copying existing drugs.” Cortés Cervantes suggested that in order to see new drugs being created in Mexico, government incentives as well as the guarantee of IP rights for companies carrying out R&D. He reiterated that Mexico is already very advanced in terms of legislature, and that COFEPRIS has done an excellent job of creating a market that will allow the industry to remain robust enough to compete with other countries, and become a regulatory agency of international acclaim.

Continuing on the topic of international growth, Cortes Cervantes said that in collaboration with COFEPRIS, CANIFARMA was able to establish a strong an efficient regulatory agency. This is directly linked to the competitiveness of the industry, the success of the economy, and access to medication.

“It’s important to search for options for developing Latin American countries,” continued Scott. Sanchéz also said that 97% of APIs are imported, “high quality at low costs will be our best chance at offering international standards.” According to Peña, the country must branch out of manufacturing drugs to be exported, into clinical trials as well to establish Mexico as an investigation center. Mexico invests approximately 35% the amount that Argentina invests in investigation, a country less prepared in terms of capacity.