Making A Mark In Emerging Markets

Aug 01, 2011
Volume 23, Issue 8

Q. What do emerging markets offer pharma manufacturers and what must manufacturers do to make the most of the opportunities present in these regions?

Emerging markets, especially those in Asia such as China and India, offer pharma companies a unique growth opportunity during the coming 20 years. However, companies face the difficulty of applying a well-adapted strategy to these markets and maintaining it long term.

Marc Prieur
Imposing Western business models on emerging markets is not the proper answer because so many things are different, including culture, speed of action (very fast in Asia) and the landscape, which can change quickly in terms of regulations, government, competition and clients. A second big mistake to avoid is to consider Asia as one homogenous market. Each country needs a special set of tailored actions and strategies. China and India, for example, are very different environments for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

To be successful in emerging markets, pharma companies should capitalise on their existing strengths and know how to fill any gaps in the new environment. However, it is a must to be "local" with production, R&D and sales and marketing forces. It is also important to analyse local market needs and existing competition, and support the strategy with a local team. Building any industrial footprint in a new market requires a strong local team, which can take years to establish, particularly in countries where staff turn over tends to be high.

Q. What were the challenges in China?

The main challenges were the organisational and administrative hurdles that needed to be overcome to create a strong Chinese team. This included developing appropriate skills such as molding engineers, sales persons with an international mindset and good command of the English language, and production managers that could use modern techniques, understand the concept of lean manufacturing and obtain a license to manufacture drug delivery devices for the Chinese pharmaceutical market. In recent years, the requirements from the Chinese FDA (SFDA) have increased drastically, bringing the level of quality and compliance closer to that of Europe and the US.

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