1. The Pharmaceutical industry is growing rapidly and its needs, demands and dynamics are different in many ways compared to other industries. What is your perception in this regard?
The growth of the Pharmaceutical industry is, as you say, different in many ways from that of other industries due to the moral, social and health issues that have an impact on it. In addition, the development time for new molecules is far longer than in most other industries thus forcing innovator companies to take a much longer-term view than is needed by companies in most other industries and to wait longer for the pay-off. On the other hand of course, healthcare providers such as governments and health insurers everywhere are trying to keep down their healthcare costs, particularly in respect of medicines and so are increasingly reluctant to pay the high prices that the innovators are seeking for their new products.
2. What motivated you to enter Pharma sector? In your opinion what are the advantages being in Pharma sector?
I entered the industry by accident when I applied for a job selling chemicals to the pharmaceutical industry after leaving university with a chemistry degree. From selling chemicals I moved on to APIs, then finished formulations and finally on into the international business specializing in generics. The advantages of the sector lie in the fascinating nature of the constant battle of wits between originators and generic companies plus the fact that the business is one of few that actually delivers a genuine benefit to the users of the products that we sell.
Not just the UK market – we help clients do business across the entire EU market that now consists of nearly 30 countries. The consultancy work started as a way of keeping busy after leaving a previous employer, but grew as Interpharm’s reputation spread and demand kept coming for the services that I was providing. This resulted in my client base expanding from a UK and European base to cover the US and Asia.. On the consultancy side, many clients have found that my experience and knowledge allow them to tap into a useful asset that helps them to make decisions about future strategies. They can do this without having to recruit a team that would take much longer to build up the knowledge that they need to draw the necessary conclusions.
The initial focus was on assisting a Spanish company with its business development in the generic field. This brought me into contact with a variety of other companies, some of whom realised that I could also help them in various ways and this came to involve providing market and competitor data, regulatory and IP issues and insights into market trends. The nature of the work also changed over time to include a significant amount of report and article writing.
The principal difference lies in the significantly different levels of regulation and enforcement combined with the much higher level of “out-of-pocket” expenditure in Asian markets as compared with Europe and the US. This creates a very different healthcare environment where often there is no state or health insurer to pay for high-priced new developments so that the marketing approach needs to be radically different. For many multinationals, this environment seemed to be too hostile and so they ignored it for a long time leaving the field open to local manufacturers. The result is a very different list of leading companies in India, for example, from the Top 10 in Germany or the US.
I think that the industry in general is going to have to cope with a combination of diminishing pipelines and increasing pricing pressures. This will not just affect Big Pharma but also the generic companies who rely on the flow of patent expiries for a boost to their product range. European countries are a good example of this with the financial crisis that has affected much of the EU and has forced Pharma companies to compete with each other even more aggressively than was previously the case.
It is difficult to give any details due to considerations of client confidentiality, but my biggest successes have been in helping companies that were completely new to the European market to find good partners for their products who helped them to build a new business. Interpharm often acts as a “front” for companies that want to investigate business possibilities with other companies without first revealing their intentions. By making the initial approaches either to a potential customer or potential supplier through Interpharm, the client can avoid delicate situations and gain an indication of the probable response to an approach before going on to the next stage. You could view it as a type of matchmaking service!
Interpharm currently provides advice and assistance on all matters affecting business development with an emphasis on generics. The topics that are covered include pricing, IP, regulations, finding parters and market access issues. The intention is to expand this to offer customers an extended service that includes regulatory advice and submissions in cooperation with specialist partners who have the necessary skills. This will allow clients “one-stop” shopping with everything from market data to allow clients to select products for their target markets, onto market planning and then the regulatory phase and finally product pricing and launch.
I think it very important that there should be a local journal giving the Asian perspective on developments in the pharmaceutical world. At the same time, you keep your readers informed about what is happening in other parts of the world and markets that they might be considering targeting. Your editorial and Knowledge Bank sections also seem to cover a wide range of topics that readers must find useful in gaining a perspective on current developments.