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Opportunities in Emerging Pharma Markets

 THE AUTHOR :Joan Cavanagh               From: Business Monitor

Introduction

Emerging markets outside of North America, Japan and Europe, once attractive to the industry for low-cost manufacturing and clinical trials, are now increasingly attractive as markets. More pharmaceutical and biotech companies are attracted to, and are willing to tackle the challenges presented by these growth markets due to declining R&D productivity, increasing healthcare cost containment pressures in the US, Europe and Japan, and significant pending patent expirations.

“Initially companies moved toward the Asia-Pacific countries for cost containment and R&D productivity reasons because of pricing pressures… now the end markets are growing in importance” Mike Keech, Director, Pharma and Life Sciences Advisory Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers “Going…Going…Global”, Robin Robinson, March 2009 PharmaVoice

IMS estimates that $89bn in brand name drug sales in the US will be at risk to generic competition to 2015. EvaluatePharma, a consultancy, estimates that some 13% of global pharmaceutical sales are at risk from generic competition in 2010-2011. Novartis estimates that injectable oncology drugs with $9bn in annual sales will lose patent protection by 2015.

The emerging market opportunities include large populations and unmet medical need, growing economies, increasing disease awareness, and public and private healthcare expenditures. In many developing markets, philanthropic public-private partnerships have built pharmaceutical market segments for HIV/AIDS and “developing world” medications. For many industry leaders, these markets offer opportunities to maximize established products with affordable prices. For many biotech companies, these markets represent expansion opportunities beyond Europe and the US. In addition, large OTC, generics and “developing world” or developing market vaccine and medicine segments in the emerging markets represent product diversification opportunities.

The increasing attractiveness of these markets is underscored by the recent flurry of 2008 and 2009 acquisition and alliance activity aimed at gaining a distribution network or more appropriate product portfolios to successfully compete in these markets.

But the emerging markets are very diverse and cannot be approached uniformly. Based on myriad factors, the emerging markets vary according to their attractiveness for patented pharmaceuticals, biologics, generics, biosimilars, OTCs, vaccines, HIV agents and developing world vaccines and medical treatments.

The challenges are many and include: diversity of languages, culture, healthcare structures, regulations and competition; distribution logistics, counterfeit drugs, preferential treatment for domestic companies and healthcare cost containment measures. In addition, China and Singapore have demonstrated that as more industry entrants target a region, salaries rise and recruitment and retention of talent becomes difficult.

The decisions regarding how many and which emerging markets to target for the best return on investment depend on each country’s dynamics and regulations and each firm’s infrastructure and product portfolios. Partnering activity will no doubt increase as more companies look to external products and local sales and distribution partners to facilitate their growth in these diverse markets.

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