MAINTAINED AND MATURING

Colombia 2015 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Giovanny Mesa Escobar, General Manager of Audifarma S.A., on the impact of price regulations for medication, the relevance of PPPs in the health sector, and establishing a more integrated sector.

Giovanny Mesa Escobar
BIOGRAPHY
Giovanny Mesa Escobar studied Medicine at the Universidad Tecnológica of Pereira. He has previously worked at the Pedro Sáenz Hospital and in Consalud. In 1996 he decided to create Audifarma S.A., a company specialized in medicine supply and its efficient and rational use. He has also created the Libardo Escobar González Foundation, which assists promising students of limited resources, and the Centre for Early Childhood Assistance.

How does the government's new Price Regulation Plan impact the company's activities?

With the implementation of the regulation T770, we opened the door to the prescription of these medicaments. Around ten years ago we set up a research group to identify trends in the consumption of medication in the country. To date, we have published over 50 articles both nationally and internationally. One of the studies from 2010 was aimed at raising government awareness of the possibility of regulating prices, and the article was one of the bases of the first regulation implemented by the government. We are convinced that the regulation of prices is a legitimate and useful tool for the government to better regulate the currently abundant supply in the market, and the prevailing medication-price ratio. In this context, we have posted double-digit growth on average each year, and only in 2014 have we seen a single-digit print. The main reason for this is the new price regulation. Despite making the entire market scenario more complex, price regulation is necessary for the future development of the sector.

What are some of the highlights of the ongoing studies Audifarma carries out?

One of the most important studies has to do with the usage pattern of medicine—the use of more prescribed doses and medicaments, how these are combined, and to what extent international standards are followed. The results should show a difference between Colombian and international patterns. We have also carried out studies on the effectiveness of different medicines. We have ongoing studies into pain management to raise awareness among various industry players. At the moment we are working with seven hospitals to implement this study. Another ongoing study concerns active medicament monitoring, such as reports on reactions and other metrics. One successful study we recently published covers the post-operation and surgical intervention misuse of medicines. We have identified that there is insufficient palliative control for between 40% and 70% of Colombian patients post-surgery. This is a problem associated with prescriptions and the administration of lower doses, or inappropriate medicine.

How would you assess the importance of PPPs for the sector?

PPPs are extremely important and useful for the sector. We believe their success to be based on good communication between the parties involved. We have already developed several successful PPPs and our goal is to deepen our take in this business model, despite the difficulties of the system and the work ahead. The target in the health system must be to put an end to contractual relationships between parties, as only then will we usher in the beginning of a new era in which we will enjoy better relations among them.

What is your outlook for the development of the sector and the role of Audifarma over the coming five years?

I am optimistic, and we feel that we are generating added value in what we do. We believe that we will maintain, and hopefully increase, our current market share of 17%. We have huge growth potential in the subsidized regime segment. Meanwhile, as the economic situation continues to improve regulations adopted by the government will only contribute to strengthening the sector and guarantee its future development. Colombia has a mature market for pharmacies. The profit margin of each of these segments varies considerably, and our objective is to create further synergies among them all. All in all, we are working toward a more integrated network in the sector and wider system.