Interview of the Week: Óscar Parra, General Manager of Lundbeck Mexico
Q: Why is Lundbeck so important to 60 million people around the world?
A: There are few companies in the world dedicated to bringing innovation to central nervous system (CNS) diseases – which are often neglected by society and have many unmet needs. CNS disorders are debilitating to the extent that patients end up not being able to take care of themselves at all, which also impacts the lives of their relatives. Despite being relatively well known, depression is still an underdiagnosed disease. Recent findings indicate that depression will be among the most debilitating diseases in the world in the next decade, even more so than diabetes. Therefore, productivity and quality of life will suffer. Lundbeck is committed to providing solutions to depression, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, sleep disorders, and schizophrenia through cutting-edge research and new products to improve the lives of many people, who would otherwise lose years, if not decades of good quality of life.
Q: To what extent are mental disorders still stigmatized in Mexico, and how does this affect the continuum of psychiatric care?
A: I would say that CNS disorders are generally stigmatized, especially schizophrenia. When someone breaks a leg, a cast is used, but mental disorders are so difficult to understand because they affect individual emotions and behavior. In Mexico, there is enough room for the development of proper diagnosis, and advanced knowledge on the impact of such diseases is necessary. Mexico has a demographic benefit expected to drive economic growth and prosperity, but we will not be able to grasp this opportunity without a healthy population. Untreated depression severely impacts individual productivity and it might reduce thousands of productive hours due to absenteeism, as diabetes already does. We bring this topic to the table whenever we are engaged in constructive discussions with the authorities. We carry out a lot of continuous medical education for physicians, who are in direct contact with patients, and we also offer a number of educational activities online to create awareness about this issue.
Q: What is your strategy for facing competition against generics in the psychiatric market?
A: There are many generics in the CNS segment, and more than 20 generics compete against one of our molecules. As an innovation Company, our business model is focused on bringing innovation for treating CNS disorders. We visit physicians and present the benefits of our compounds. Then we exchange information with the doctors on what we do, and then they have to decide. However, in the last five years there has been a significant growth in the acceptance of generics among the population. Our strategy will still be focused on bringing innovation to patients suffering from CNS disorders.
Q: How does the fact that COFEPRIS is being recognized by other regulatory agencies in the region and the world making things easier for Lundbeck to penetrate other markets?
A: This is a great achievement that will bring benefits especially to exporting companies, since having a product registered with COFEPRIS may make access to other Latin American countries easier. In the case of Lundbeck, we have a direct and indirect presence in Latin America depending on the country. In some of the countries, we have a distributor and sales representatives completely dedicated to Lundbeck, therefore the impact will not be as significant for us.
Q: What are the benefits of conducting clinical trials in Mexico in terms of accelerating new drug approvals?
A: We have conducted several clinical trials in Mexico and the country is advancing in clinical research, but there are still some things that could be further improved. In the Southern area of Mexico City, there are more highly qualified specialists than in many other parts of the world. We have conducted trials in both private and public institutions and research centers. As for the role clinical trials play in improving new drug approval processes and inclusion to basic formularies, currently conducting a clinical trial in public institutions does not provide any benefit to inclusion of new drugs in basic formularies. In fact, they are two different processes, but could be greatly benefited if both processes were connected.
Q: How are you planning to sustain growth in the next year given the current volatility of Mexico’s economy?
A: We will be busy making sure our aforementioned launches are ready. Next year will be an interesting year in Mexico. Oil prices are constraining government budgets in various sectors of the economy. The current situation of the public sector is not necessarily impacting us this year, but given that it may be affecting the economy and industry, it could hit us indirectly. I think there are two ways to look at things. If we think of the past, things are could look rather difficult now, but examining the situation of other countries, Mexico has fewer challenges in comparison and has many business opportunities, and I am confident that from 2017 on, this will be a very interesting place to expand the business.
This is an excerpt of an interview to be published in Mexico Health Review 2016. To nominate your company for an interview and gain exposure among top executives and key opinion leaders in the industry please visit http://mexicohealthreview.com
If you like reading this, you might also like: