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Pharmaceutical Industry – focused on the future

Updated: February 12th, 2022

The pharmaceutical industry, even in times of crisis and recession, continues to invest in innovation and in the development of new health technologies.

According to Wilson Borges, a consultant and speaker with stints at companies such as Pfizer, Roche and Zambon, in 2019, there is data from the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, an independent research center that conducts studies on investment in drug development in the United States – The country has invested around U$180 billion in research and development of new drugs. The expectation is that this figure should exceed U$200 billion by 2024.

“When we look ahead, these data are even more representative as the population ages, because today we are not just talking about innovating to cure diseases, but also to promote a better quality of life for people living with chronic or autoimmune diseases”, comments Borges. He also highlights that if something has not changed in the last few decades for the pharmaceutical industry, it is the desire to innovate and invest in research and development.

But it is not possible to talk about the future without looking back and observing how much the pharmaceutical sector has advanced. In the opinion of Nelson Mussolini, the executive president of the Pharmaceutical Products Industry Union in the State of São Paulo (Sindusfarma), it is the advances of recent years that have enabled people to live longer and better.

“Today, we find professionals aged 65, 70, extremely active, generating wealth for our country. In the last ten years, due to a large flow of information, people began to realize that they needed to look more closely at their health and the importance of exercising, of preparing for old age with a better quality of life.”

In this scenario, Mussolini also evaluates the important role of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) in the last ten years, it has made a great leap in terms of quality. “Today, we have an agency that was created just over 23 years ago and that is credibly seen by centuries-old global agencies.”

This all positively impacts the future of the pharmaceutical industry and patients.

Focusing on the future

Looking to the future, and especially analyzing the last few years of the pandemic, Mussolini has no doubts in saying that the future lies in research and science. And the commented on the difficulties that still exist in Brazil when thinking about private investments in public universities to encourage research and the development of new products. “Onde of the things that the pandemic has shown us is that we need to invest in self-reliance. But not only to produce active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), but also for the formation of brains.”

Borges shares the same opinion, and the comments on the need for financial resources and qualified people to carry out innovative projects, such as biosimilars, biotechnology and genome.

“The Brazilian pharmaceutical industry has presented a series of initiatives for the development of innovative molecules, however, with the rapid emergence of new technologies, the new regulatory demand calls for more tests, more patients and more analysis time. All this makes pharmaceutical development much more expensive and difficult to access in emerging markets”, says Borges.

Both specialists consider the issue of investments in R&D in Brazil as a delicate point. “Considering that the development of a product, on average, takes ten years and, according to statistics, only one out of ten drugs is successful, the investment risk is very high, something that national entrepreneurs are not used to. We have punctual initiatives, as is the case with Bionovis, but Brazilian businessmen have a certain fear, because they risk spending years investing millions, when at the end the product might not prove to be effective”, says Borges.

For Mussolini, a factor that impedes investments in R&D is the issue of breaking patents, which he considers unreasonable, and asks: “Who will want to invest in innovation if they don’t have their intellectual property intact? We know that the government cannot invest millions on research at the risk of failure. Public money has to be used for what brings return to society.”

In Borges’ opinion, Brazil was, is and will always be one of the main global markets. “Any pharmaceutical company that really wants to grow has to be in brazil. We have a giant market and many good programs for accessing free medication, especially in the high-cost drug market, which is practically 100% funded by the government.”

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