Karel Fucikovsky
Pharma Director
Pierre Fabre Mexico
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View from the Top

Unified Innovation to Explore Nontraditional Pharma Markets

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 11/30/2020 - 12:15

Q: How has Pierre Fabre ensured business continuity during COVID-19?

A: During the outbreak, Pierre Fabre had two priorities. The first was to secure the health and safety of our collaborators to ensure continuity of our pharmaceutical and cosmetic lines. Commercially, we implemented preventive measures to ensure distribution. However, changes in this area were dramatic. To prevent contagion at our facilities, collaborators started to work according to a hybrid model: three weeks of home office and one week at the office. Our sales team slowly went back into the field but that depended on the client and their level of comfort in receiving our services. It was very important for us to respect and listen to the doctors because we knew they would be saturated with virtual messages and information from other brands without being consulted first. We wanted to be respectful so we first asked them what they preferred. This made a difference in our service provision and secured our good relationship with them.

Q: What were Pierre Fabre’s goals during 2019 and 2020?

A: The company began a transformation plan in 2020 to optimize our financial and commercial operations. Our CEO is looking to build the company as a whole, considering that in the past we had two separate business units, medical care and dermo-cosmetics, which sometimes implied two general directions in some countries. By unifying the company, we make it easier for Pierre Fabre to contribute to making the world better and healthier. The unified unit is called Medical Care and it still maintains many of our previous goals, such as organic market growth for our brands. Oncology is one of our recently strengthened verticals. Globally, we are investing and launching many treatments to treat skin cancer, melanoma and colorectal cancer. Mexico will be a priority country for our oncological products in the future. To date, we are focusing on a geographic rationalization of our portfolios. Pierre Fabre is changing and focusing on the products that have penetrated the market the most and that have generated the most benefits.

The pharmaceutical market in Mexico changed a great deal in 2019 and 2020 and this has driven many companies to focus on the private retail market. The public sector has yet to define some rules and that uncertainty has driven away many companies. We are also exploring e-commerce for our dermo-cosmetics line. Joining this digital transformation is important for the company because the market will keep expanding, especially after the pandemic.

We are looking forward to consolidating our transformation and continuing our organic growth. We are also exploring new nontraditional distribution markets. The traditional distribution model based on wholesalers is changing. There are regional distributors emerging that have a different operational capacity, creating a virtuous circle due to their controlled operations.

At the same time, we want to keep in close contact with doctors to understand their needs and receive their feedback on our products so we deliver and respond with the best, most comprehensive products.

Q: What is the value of innovation in healthcare and why should Mexico prioritize it?

A: Innovation is fundamental for emerging and developing economies. Mexican health authorities are addressing other priorities and overall, the administration is seeing innovation as an expenditure rather than an investment tool that will spur development. Pierre Fabre, our representatives, AMIIF and CANIFARMA are concerned about Mexico setting innovation aside. This is disappointing because the Mexican industry has worked for years to serve as a strategic innovation base for Latin America. Today, many R&D centers are even at risk of losing federal funding.

Q: The pay-per-results model is gaining strength in the industry. What is Pierre Fabre’s approach to this model?

A: This is a very effective model for mature economies. Unfortunately, Mexico is not ready yet to adopt this trend as there are still many barriers to its implementation. It could be adapted as an alternative to traditional treatment models but with the current healthcare system, this model would not work for companies or for the government.

 

Pierre Fabre is the second-largest dermo-cosmetics laboratory in the world and the second-largest private French pharmaceutical group. The company is headquartered in southwest France, owns subsidiaries in 43 countries, enjoys distribution agreements in over 130 countries and has 13,500 employees worldwide.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst