Dear Colleagues! This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #619 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi onWordPress, the top blog site. Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org for publishing your contributions here.
February 2022 marked my completing 47 years of working in Pharma Industry. Allah be praised. I am still working. The first half of my working career was spent in Multinational companies, and the latter half in the Local Pharma, making me well-versed with both innovators and generics markets. I also had the opportunity to work in business as well as operations.
My journey of near half century is also the journey of Pharma Industry in Pakistan. Great changes have occurred in this time and a lot could be written about it. In my blogs, which were started about four and a half years ago, I have covered several topics related to Pakistan Pharma Industry. This multi-part series shall do and review the SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – of the Pharma Industry.
It is now time to strategize, as this was the purpose of this long exercise.
Strategies are made on these parameters:
- Strategies based on Strengths
- Strategies to mitigate Weaknesses
- Strategies to exploit Opportunities
- Strategies to avert Threats
We shall follow the same line of thinking.
Strategies Based on Strengths
Short Term/ Mid Term Market-based Strategies
- Open New Therapeutic Segments
- The market dynamics tell us that having a random assortment of products is not good enough. Product portfolio should be evolved around therapeutic segment. You should find the gaps in your own portfolio, and fill these to reinforce or expand the portfolio.
During the last three decades, sub-specialties have become very well recognized and established. Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Nephrology, Rheumatology etc. are all recent additions which have taken firm roots. Within Pediatrics, sub-specialties’ of cardiology, neurology, nephrology, oncology, hematology etc. are now available in Pakistan. Within surgery and internal medicine, several sub-specialties have emerged successfully. Interventional specializations are also here. It has become therefore necessary to build business around these specialties. It is more focused and learning about sub-segments and penetrating these is more rewarding.
- Chronic care has become a very lucrative area for these reasons:
- Longevity has increased. People are living longer and therefore need long term care and treatment.
- Lifestyle changes have increased the incidence of chronic diseases like coronary diseases, hypertension, diabetes etc. These diseases need lifetime management, and therefore, every prescription is worth a lot. In fact, a pharma company which is not well represented in chronic care cannot hope to grow to become top-tier company.
- Life pace has increased stress level thereby increasing the incidence of psychiatric problems. These also require lifetime management, and every prescription has a life of several years.
- Access to healthcare has improved. More patients seek medical care, get diagnosed and receive treatment.
- Disease awareness has increased due to campaigns from government, pharma companies and NGOs. Many of these campaigns like breast cancer, calcium deficiency, zinc supplements are highly successful.
- The incidence, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer has increased exponentially. Many of the cancers, such as breast cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia etc. need chronic treatment extended over many years. Oncology is among the fastest growing specialties.
- Nutritional supplements have come into vogue. These are not therapeutic and therefore do not have a therapy duration. People, not patients, take these products throughout life.
- Preventive intake of certain medicine is another timeless avenue of drug use. Cholesterol lowering drugs – statins are a classic example which is already a multibillion-dollar market.
- Variety of new viral infections have raised alarm in people, and they resort to taking some medicine to keep them safe.
- Fitness orientation ranges from hobby to mania. Maintaining fitness is not limited to physical activity, it also involves taking certain supplements to support fitness.
- Focus on patients, not just the diseases. Within one disease profile, individual patients may need different types of treatments. One size fits all is no more the order of today. In any case, winning in chronic care area is about getting new patients, while winning in acute care needs getting more prescriptions. Patient profiling, patient description and patient matching are very effective tools for successful business.
- Saying so much in praise of chronic care does not reduce the importance of acute care. The volumes are very large due to very large number of patients and repetitive prescriptions of same drugs in same patients. Antibiotics, pain killers, and topical remedies fall into acute care. It must be made clear that acute care remains equally important, with robust growth.
- Self-medication and filling old prescriptions is mostly in acute care area. A patient had chest infection and got a prescription for a certain antibiotic. When he has another episode of chest infection after couple of months, he would not go to doctor again. He would go to a pharmacy and thanks to our lax system would buy the same medicine, take it and get relief. Self-medication thrives on the efficacy of the drugs which are prescribed in the first place.
- Research is quite active worldwide. Numerous small companies have emerged whose mandate is research only, they do not commercialize themselves. They work and sustain on venture capital funding. When they have developed. Viable, they offer it for sale. The buyer takes on from there and does the necessary work for registration and commercialization. Due to very narrow focus, research companies are developing novel therapies which was not done previously.
The sum up is that no pharma companies should limit the number of therapeutic segments it operates in. Similarly, no company should limit that it would operate in chronic care or acute care only. All segments must be considered and included to get maximum exposure and business.
To be Continued……
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