TAKING ON THE COMPETITION

Mexico 2018 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Rodrigo Puga, President & General Manager of Pfizer Mexico, on developing new antibiotics, getting more public and private investment and cooperation, and making health a priority for the next government.

Rodrigo Puga
BIOGRAPHY
Rodrigo Puga has overseen the operations of Pfizer in Mexico since 2016. Previously, he held the same position in Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. He holds a degree in business management from Universidad Católica de Argentina and an MBA from the Universidad de los Andes in Chile. He is also president of the Mexican Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (AMIIF).

What is the relative importance of the domestic Mexican market for Pfizer's global sales portfolio?

For Pfizer, Mexico is one of its most important markets and is a top 15 affiliate worldwide. It is a key player in the emerging market space, and the company sees much more growth potential in years to come here.

What are the drivers behind Pfizer's above-average 9% growth in Mexico in 2017?

The major driver is our participation in the segments with the most growth in the local pharmaceutical market. We have the most diversified portfolio; we have been innovating and producing new products for over 100 years in many different medical fields. We also participate in growing segments such as branded generics and biosimilars. The combination of all these new product launches helped us grow at almost double the rate of the broader market. Our diverse portfolio and ability to launch new products every other year have allowed us to remain an industry leader.

What is your strategy to gain market share in the biosimilar segment?

We have introduced one biosimilar that targets inflammation. Through this introduction, we have been able to win the consolidated tender in Mexico. Our product is being used in the main social security institutes, among many others. Pfizer is investing more than USD1 billion in developing biosimilars. We are developing the five most-used biologics worldwide, targeting both inflammation and oncology. We are developing biosimilars for each of the top-five biologics and expect to launch these between 2019 and 2022.

What is your innovation strategy, and how does this innovation help tackle Mexico's main public health challenges?

Today, non-communicable diseases are more impactful. In this regard, our R&D is perfectly aligned to meet this challenge. We are investigating in many different areas, from cardiovascular to oncology. We are also investigating rare diseases. Antibiotics are particularly important. An issue that will become increasingly important is antimicrobial resistance. Currently, antibiotics do not cover the resistances they need; there has been a global commitment from the pharmaceutical industry to work toward new antibiotics. Pfizer has taken the lead in this subject, and we are currently investigating the development of many new antibiotics. We launched a new one in 2017 and another in 2018. We have three more in the R&D process. This is an important area of focus for Pfizer.

How would you assess cooperation between the public and the private sectors in terms of improving health access to lower-income populations?

Mexico is not investing enough in health. Health needs to be a priority for the next government. Additionally, it is an intelligent investment. We have been working to underline the link between investing in healthcare and productivity in the country. This is extremely important in Mexico, because our demographic bonus will not last forever. We have perhaps 15 more years of having a greater percentage of the population working than not working. This is when Mexico needs to invest, and this will boost the economic growth of the entire country. However, in order to do so, we need more public and private investment and cooperation.

Can you give us an overview of Pfizer Pro and how physicians have taken to it?

Pfizer Pro is our main digital platform, where every healthcare professional can access the most up-to-date medical information. We started developing this several years ago as a new way to interact with our healthcare professionals. We always say our biggest competitor is a lack of knowledge, which is why our main investment is on medical education. In 2017 we improved our platform, and professionals can interact with our information through some of the most-used media and social networking platforms.