Mexico Health Review spoke with Rodrigo Puga, President and Country Manager of Pfizer Mexico on how new health scheme can bring innovative medicines to the general population.
Q: Pfizer will invest more than US$26 million in Mexico during 2018. How will Pfizer allocate these funds?
A: Mexico is a priority country for Pfizer in terms of investment and is including in the Top 15 affiliated worldwide. The local pharmaceutical market, together with the size of Mexico’s economy, ensures Pfizer’s future in Mexico. We think that the country will continue to be a key player for the future, so we are investing in clinical research at our manufacturing plant in Toluca. We are increasing the plant’s capacity and adding state-of-the-art production lines for oral products. This plant exports 22 percent of its production to 18 countries in Latin America.
Q: Pfizer Mexico grew by 9 percent in 2017. What drove your performance?
A: Our strategy in 2017 included the launch of five innovative products and a diversified portfolio that allowed us to focus on those market segments that grew the most. We launched new products in therapeutic areas such as oncology, anti-infection, women’s health, rare diseases, branded generics, biosimilars and others.
In 2018, we are launching seven more products, including one for women going through menopause, a new self-administered contraceptive, new oncology therapies and an antibiotic for use in hospitals. We will also launch a few products for our OTC line. We plan to introduce those new medicines in the Mexican market by the second semester of 2018. We are pleased to bring these new possibilities to our Mexican patients.
Q: Which of Pfizer’s products are growing the most in the Mexican market?
A: The three products that are growing the most are an oncology product for metastatic breast cancer, an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory biosimilar that we launched in 2017. For Pfizer, the private market is growing more than the public, where sales grew by 2 percent in 2017. The private market grew between 6 and 7 percent, which reflected growth in both volume and prices.
Q: What areas of NAFTA should be improved to ensure Mexico’s competitiveness?
A: We hope that the treaty will be modernized, which is necessary after two decades. The pharmaceutical industry sees possibilities for improvement in IP protection, since strengthening IP would be an investment incentive for national and multinational producers that are investing in the development of innovative products. Although Mexico has a strong regulatory framework for IP, there are areas for improvement, including increasing speed and diligence in the application of patents. Unfortunately, the litigation of patent violations is complex and requires a lot of time for the affected party.
Q: How should the internal regulation of Mexico be improved to ensure the application of IP protection?
A: COFEPRIS, IMPI and pharmaceutical associations are already working to ensure that all information is available and that all processes are transparent. The link between COFEPRIS and IMPI needs to be strengthened to accelerate the approval of sanitary registrations. It is also necessary to eliminate the “counter bound” provision. Once the affected party sues an offender for patent infringement, the former can place a bond that forbids commercialization of the product by the latter. However, the offending party can place a counter bound, which allows them to commercialize the product again.
Q: How can innovative medicines reach the general population?
A: Mexico needs to invest more in healthcare. We are working closely with AMIIF to introduce schemes to bring innovative medicines closer to the general population, which is a priority. Investing in health has a positive impact on productivity and economic growth. The time to invest is now, as Mexico must take advantage of its demographic bonus. Innovative access models allow the public sector to share the risk. The implementation of these models is almost ready; we are only waiting for the other party, a public institution such as IMSS, to be ready. We hope the first of these models will be implemented in 2018.
Q: How do you measure success within one of these models?
A: It varies completely depending on the model. For instance, one of our oncology products guarantees an entire year without progression of the cancer. In this case, if the medication is incorporated in an institution’s basic list, under a shared-risk model the institution would only pay for the patients in whom the cancer did not advance for a year. If several patients do not benefit from this effect and their cancer progresses, the institution would not pay for their treatment. Under current schemes, institutions pay for all treatments whether they work or not. These schemes are already being used successfully in other countries.
Industry Analyst and Journalist at Mexico Business Publishing