Mariano de Elizalde, CEO of Sandoz Mexico, spoke to Mexico Health Review of the product lines Sandoz is introducing to the Mexican generics market.
Q: One of Sandoz’s goals is to reach 1 billion patients. How close are you to that objective?
A: This is a global goal. In 2015, we reached 500 million patients and with the growth we are experiencing we will reach our target of 1 billion patients by 2030. Sandoz had a great 2017, both globally and in Mexico, and as we continue to present innovative proposals in all markets, we will keep expanding. Our mission in Novartis is to offer high quality at affordable prices.
Q: What role does Mexico represent in the company’s global strategy?
A: Emerging markets are key to Sandoz’s strategy. In this context, Latin America offers many opportunities and within this region Mexico is the second-most important market for us after Brazil. Due to Mexico’s macroeconomic conditions, its strategic location and its market opportunities, the country represents the most interesting market for both Sandoz and Novartis. It was selected by Grupo Novartis as the location for all back office services for the Americas.
Q: What are the most in-demand therapeutic areas in Mexico?
A: In retail, we focus mainly on respiratory and cardiometabolic health and antibiotics, but we also have an important hospital line. Our biosimilar products are world leaders and in Mexico we were the first company to have an approved biosimilar product under the new NOM 257. In 2017, we launched an oncology line and in 2018 we entered HIV. We believe that there is a great opportunity in Mexico for high-quality products.
Q: What niche therapies are a priority for Sandoz?
A: For some years, biological products have been oriented to different niches; for this reason, increasing the number of biosimilar products is one of the pillars for Sandoz’s future. We have launched two biosimilar products in Mexico: an adjuvant therapy for chemotherapy and a growth hormone, but our plan is to launch five biosimilar products in the next four years in different therapeutic areas, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and oncology.
Q: What are Sandoz’s plans in terms of research and manufacturing in Mexico?
A: Our biggest investment in research is in clinical studies of biosimilars and on bioequivalence studies for generic products. In 2016, we invested US$2.5 million. However, we believe that it is possible to do much more than what we are doing in clinical research conducted in Mexico, a country that has great potential and capacity to take on more research opportunities. In manufacturing, Sandoz’s strategy is to focus manufacturing in large specialized centers, so manufacturing here is not part of our strategy, although we have a small plant in Mexico that makes packaging and performs quality control.
Q: Sandoz is partnering with Biocon to manufacture and commercialize biosimilars for immunology and oncology. What are your goals with this alliance?
A: The purpose of this alliance is to expand our portfolio of biosimilar products. Sandoz is a leader in biosimilars in the world and has the largest catalogue of this type of product in the market. We seek strategic alliances with other companies that help us strengthen our portfolio.
Q: What is Sandoz’s strategy to compete in the generics market? What other business options exist to diversify your investments and income?
A: In Mexico, as in the rest of Latin America, there is a strong national generic industry with a significant market share; however, I think there are still many opportunities, because there are many markets across the world with a low use of generics. I think companies must decide in which market segments they can be successful and provide a value proposition that complies with the demands of each country. Sandoz has decided where to establish itself: biosimilars, oncology, HIV, high specialty and the retail segment.