Skip to NavigationSkip to content

To succeed in emerging market medicine, anticipation and innovation are essential

Published on 11/12/17 at 11:04am

Andrew Lane, Executive Vice President of Established Pharmaceuticals at Abbott, discusses the key steps to be taken when reaching out to the emerging markets of the healthcare world.

Healthcare in emerging markets such as India, Russia and China is changing rapidly. Incomes are rising, middle classes are growing and chronic disease is escalating. As a result, these countries need quality, trusted medicines more than ever.

The top 20 emerging markets are expected to double their spending on medicines in the next decade. This presents a great opportunity for companies who sell medicine. However, emerging markets are highly competitive. For businesses to truly make a difference and help patients in emerging markets, anticipation and innovation are essential. We must anticipate patient and market needs and then deliver insight-driven differentiated medicines that meet unmet needs. But what does this look like in practice?

Listening to markets

While we often think of emerging markets collectively, each country is actually strikingly different to the next. For example, how a medicine is approved, how it is distributed and sold, to how people access healthcare and who pays the bills, all vary by country. We therefore need to be mindful of local cultures, listen to each country and understand and anticipate patients’ needs.

Fundamental to any approach should be insight generation and understanding the patient journey. Pharmacists, doctors, nurses and patients all face challenges with healthcare, and by listening to each market, we can be part of the solution.

In addition, at Abbott we have manufacturing, research and clinical development present locally in our key emerging markets. This helps us to continuously evolve in line with market dynamics and helps us translate our ideas into operational decisions much faster.

Innovating for the people

People in emerging markets not only want medicines that are safe and effective but they are also increasingly looking for medicines that offer something of value beyond a pure generic. Once we understand the patient and market needs, we can really create locally-tailored products.

We generally like to think of innovation as the ‘light bulb’ moment of massive change. However, in reality 70% of all innovation is incremental. In emerging market medicine, incremental innovation is often about looking at innovating in all areas beyond the molecule.

For example, this may be looking at new ways of using existing medicines, new delivery methods, new dosage combinations, better ways of packaging, new indications or digital solutions that improve patient adherence, and then applying them to existing off-patent medicines. We believe this provides meaningful differentiation and solves a lot of everyday problems for people in emerging markets.

Simple innovation, big impact

In some parts of India, getting safe and hygienic water is difficult. This presents obvious barriers to health and hygiene, but is even more of a challenge when working with reconstitute medicines. Reconstitutes are common in countries such as India where a longer shelf life is required. These medicines require sterile water or saline in order to dissolve into a final oral or injectable form. To make this easier and safer for patients, we offer Finecef, a reconstitute injectable antibiotic packaged together with a vile of sterile water – a simple innovation that makes a huge difference to people.

Increasing health outcomes

Another example of a simple, yet effective, innovation that can lead to better health outcomes comes from Peru. There, local doctors told us that patient compliance for treatment of the digestive infection Helicobacter pylori was low due to a complex pill regimen. The bacterium can be found in about two-thirds of the world’s population. It causes stomach ulcers and is linked to stomach cancer. For the most part, it doesn’t cause any symptoms, though in some it will attack the lining of the stomach.

The treatment for H. pylori is antibiotics and antacids taken together – up to eight pills per day for two weeks. When patients don’t take the antacids, compliance drops considerably due to gastro-intestinal discomfort. We were the first company to introduce a simplified regimen in Peru in which the entire course of treatment was packaged together with convenient dosages marked to take in the morning and evening. This is a straightforward innovation that really makes a difference to patients in developing countries that rely on advances in off-patent medicine.

Helping people live their best life

Our ultimate goal should always be to help people get or stay healthy and get them back to doing what they love. If companies can remain flexible to the changing dynamics and introduce new solutions based on needs of each market, we’re going to make it easier and better to take medicine. Millions of people around the world will have the opportunity to live their best life through good health.

Mission Statement is a leading portal for the pharmaceutical industry, providing industry professionals with pharma news, pharma events, pharma service company listings and pharma jobs,
Site content is produced by our editorial team exclusively for and our industry newspaper Pharmafocus. Service company profiles and listings are taken from our pharmaceutical industry directory, Pharmafile, and presented in a unique Find and Compare format to ensure the most relevant matches