Five Reasons Your Pharmaceutical Brand Content Model Might Not Be Optimised and What You Can Do About It
This blog post has been contributed by Stephen Marshman, business development director, SGK.
Changing market conditions is not new news to the Pharmaceutical industry. Over the last decade, and against a background of regulatory changes, serialisation, merger and acquisition activity and the growth of generics, perhaps the most critical shift of all has been the transformation of patients into consumers.
For Pharma companies, this change has demanded they find new ways of connecting with their audience, through different channels and with meaningful, relevant and compelling content.
We should guard against thinking of the ‘consumerisation of healthcare’ as a recent occurrence. I am sure that as long ago as 1998, when Google first arrived in our world, it wasn’t long before people were frustrating their doctor by arriving at the surgery with a printout that offered various diagnoses of the symptoms they were displaying.
What is perhaps surprising, and for some Pharma companies concerning, is that in this period — one in which patients have become well-informed consumers with a world of data at their fingertips — many organisations have been slow to change their engagement models to adapt to this new world order.
There are multiple reasons for this apparent lag. Not least, there is the industry’s natural aversion to risk and an associated reluctance to make sweeping changes. This effect has been heightened in a sphere where digital communications play such a major role, itself a subject that has a famously complex relationship with regulation.
However, the area I would like to focus on here is that of branded content and, more specifically, the content generation models Pharma organisations have in place to ensure they are successfully engaging with their consumers.
SGK is a supply chain partner, helping healthcare organisations create, manage and distribute content that will deliver the right outcomes for their consumers. Frequently, when we initially engage with a company, we encounter models, systems and processes that are not fit for purpose.
So why isn’t it working?
1. Decentralised Content Creation Models
All too often the process framework that exists for generating content has not been designed in a planful way, rather it has evolved incrementally over an extended period. This is not surprising, any process that has been put in place to deliver a newly emergent need – in this case the delivery of new types of content and messaging to patient-consumers – often does so reactively, as the need itself is constantly evolving and being re-defined.
The frustration is that this leads to a lack of commonality across brands, markets and content channels with a disproportionate effort often required to get any content from concept to delivery. The model needs re-designing but there is often no true process owner (or stakeholders with sufficient bandwidth) to drive this change.
2. Multiple Content Touch-Points (Lack of Roles and Responsibilities)
This same theme of ownership can cause headaches across the process. The roles and functions that would typically deliver an optimised content delivery process simply didn’t exist in most Pharma companies a decade ago, and in many businesses they still don't today.
Again, we don’t have to look too hard to understand why this is. No organisation could have anticipated the full impact of the transformation that has placed the patient at the centre of the healthcare landscape and demanded Pharma companies find and master different ways of communicating. The organisational structures required to effectively deliver this did not arrive ready-formed.
In many businesses, the way in which content is created and delivered is clunky and inefficient. There is often a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities:
- Who generates data, branding and messaging?
- Who reviews and approves?
- What are the roles played by legal and regulatory teams and what are our partners responsible for?
I suspect these questions would be answered very differently from company to company, sometimes even within the same organisation too. If it’s not clear and consistent, it’s almost certainly an area that’s holding you back.
3. Lack of Visibility, Access and Version Control of Assets
When invited to carry out a diagnostic audit of one Pharma company recently, our team posed a series of questions, aimed at understanding how the company managed their digital assets. The answers may sound surprising but in fact the picture they painted is not that uncommon. No central databases were in place to house image assets, though some markets kept folders and files on intranet sites. There was a heavy reliance on agencies to provide the latest files, based on individual requests. This caused significant problems when they changed suppliers.
A recent cross-market line-up of the imagery used on one product web-site highlighted major inconsistencies in terms of product and lifestyle visuals. The messaging also differed widely across markets with no centrally managed translation process in place.
4. Lack of Compliance
The above scenario is not one that sounds like it should be prevalent within the highly regulated pharmaceutical world, yet this is often the case. Compared to a more well-established area such as packaging, for example, where heavily documented regulations are embedded within robust processes, the comparative “newness” of managing content in a digital environment seems to be far less stringently controlled.
I think in the early years there was a feeling that within the online environment at least, the reluctance of authorities (and even the FDA) to publish rules or guidelines meant that organisations found it more difficult to implement a structured way of working in this space. I don’t think the same can be said today; producing meaningful digital content for patients is here to stay and the processes and systems that govern how it is done need to be as buttoned down and effective as those we would use to generate packaging and labelling.
5. Opportunities to Leverage Additional Content Channels are not Fulfilled
The areas already described undoubtedly contribute to significant duplication of effort, costs and frustrations for a lot of organisations. In many cases, while there is rarely a quick fix, a lot of these inefficiencies are at least already evident to the stakeholders engaged in the process. Perhaps less easy for everyone to see but potentially an area where a change in ways of working can deliver even more significant benefits, is the realisation that with the right operational model in place, an organisation can make far less content go a lot further.
WATCH: SGK Content Solutions
Typically, an unoptimized content delivery process will be stretched to the limits just to deliver basic requirements. Through a process of reengineering your design operations, one of the most wide-reaching benefits will be that through the massively increased availability and visibility of assets and the reduction of end to end lead-times, users will be in a position to broaden the number of content touchpoints they can exploit, with richer content that is being consistently and cost-effectively repurposed, rather than being created from scratch each time.
None of these factors exists in isolation. There is significant interdependency between having the right process, systems, tools, people and partners. I’m not sure many companies have optimised all of these elements but those that have recognised the importance of having an operational model that supports the creation of meaningful and compelling content are certainly reaping the rewards in terms of consumer engagement levels.
If some of the above sounds familiar and you recognise that the most successful healthcare companies are those with strategies that build a clear focus on ensuring their brands make a strong emotional connection with their consumers, what can you do about it?
At SGK Health we certainly don’t believe that the answer is a quick fix; an out of the box model that will operate in the same way for every organisation. In fact, our starting point is to listen and to ask questions.
“Our approach is to consult with you to understand how you are working today. Typically, in this diagnostic phase, we will work with you to map current workflows and understand roles and responsibilities.” – Vince Schaller, managing director, SGK Health
We’ll audit the systems and tools you’re using, interview a range of stakeholders and collect baseline performance data. Only at this point will we start to look at developing solutions and working with you to design the right combination of workflows, technology, resource models and partners that will deliver success.
What makes us confident we’ll succeed?
Put simply, our track record. Drawing on decades working with Pharma companies, coupled with a proud heritage working with the world’s biggest consumer brands, we are uniquely placed to help Pharma companies make this powerful transformation. We’ll work with you to optimise your content generation ecosystem, delivering measurable improvements in terms of cost and time savings, improved quality and consistency across a robust, transparent and compliant process.
Expect greater clarity and governance around roles and responsibilities and a platform from which new and additional content channels can be explored. Most importantly, all of this will support the overarching goal – enabling your branded content to connect effectively with your consumers.
About Stephen Marshman: Stephen has over twenty years’ experience in branding and graphics having begun his career with SGK in 1997. Today he works as a Business Development Director, focused on helping pharmaceutical companies implement best practice processes for the development of packaging and branded content.
Stephen played a pioneering role in the development of SGK’s unique approach to working with pharmaceutical clients more than fifteen years ago and remains a key part of the global team today. Earlier in his career he enjoyed a range of client-facing roles, including working on-site at pharmaceutical clients’ facilities, providing him with valuable first-hand insights into the specific requirements of the sector.
4 Steps to Achieve Compliant Packaging for Mandatory Regulations
Over the next two years, prescription and over-the-counter medicine labels in Australia and New Zealand will change. Due to consumers’ demand for more informed choices about their medicines, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is requiring new pharmaceutical labelling regulations to align with international best practice.
Medicine labels are required to comply with the new rules by 1 September 2020.
What packaging and labelling details are changing?
Active ingredients will need to be more prominent on medicine labels with larger print sizes on the front label. The active ingredients will be positioned on the package under the brand name on the front label. This will ensure consumers are not mixing medicines that could alter the effectiveness, and to assist consumers in making informed choices. Consumers can expect to see these changes on sunscreen and vitamin supplements too.
Along with larger font sizes, the new medicine packaging will also include critical health information to increase clarity on what a particular product is to be used for.
For prescription drugs, the new rules indicate there will need to be extra space for pharmacists to attach their dispensing labels without covering up other information.
Australian and New Zealand medicine labels will soon be required to include details about:
Storage conditions. To reduce the risk of storing medicine incorrectly, labels will be required to include directions on how to store a product.
Expiration date. Consumers are familiar with the “use-by date” on food products — now medicine labels in Australia will be required to include the expiry date to protect consumer from expired or unsafe medicines.
Batch number and company address. The batch number, name, and address of the supplier will be included — to be used to trace medicine and easily manage recall efforts. Medicines sold in Australia will display either an AUST R number or an AUST L number.
AUST R (registered) medicines include all prescription-only medicines and many over-the-counter medicines.
AUST L (listed) medicines are lower risk, self-medication products, such as fish oils, multivitamins, and herbal and homeopathic products.
Allergens. Under the new labeling rules, more allergens (fish, eggs, soy, milk, and tree nuts) will need to be disclosed on non-prescription medicine labels. For prescription drugs, this callout must appear on the label or in the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet with a prompt on the pack.
What does this mean for brands?
To turn these pharmaceutical labelling requirements into a competitive advantage, follow these four steps:
1. Engage with a business partner that can enable development of packaging that is compliant and ensures brand guardianship — with compliance and speed to market as the basis of the process which is GMP compliant.
2. Review your current brand architecture and apply a revised strategy to promote the brand, application, efficacy, claims, and on pack communications.
3. Utilise connected services to develop Rx and OTC compliance packaging with activation of digital communications as part of the overall strategy.
4. Ensure an effective project plan is in place, identifying all SKUs to be developed to ensure compliance to meet the 2020 regulations. This information will help to identify and manage the process steps of development, submission and print to pack timelines.
A pharmaceutical marketing business partner, such as SGK Health can support the process with subject matter experts to engage and deliver a complete end-to-end solution. Creative strategy and consultation with regulatory experts within the business enables us to develop clear, concise communications that support brand, regulatory compliance, and technical print aspects.
SGK serves seven of the Top 10 Global Pharma Companies —from design to print, we’re well-versed to develop compliant medication packaging for the mandatory regulatory requirements.
To learn more about the new Australian medicine label regulations, visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration website.
How Is Technology Supporting Healthcare Consumer Behavior?
From passive recipients to active participants, our role in healthcare as patients and consumers has changed. Consumer expectations have changed, so how can we engage with increasingly savvy shoppers in this dynamic healthcare landscape?
Obviously, transparency and access to information have been factors in the changing healthcare world. We all have a better understanding of our health with the assist of technology, and we have the capacity to bring that knowledge into our doctor’s office to enable real-time conversations with them.
On a global, macro level, there has been a shift to value-based care, and now CMS is reimbursing providers and/or hospitals for better patient outcomes.
What drove this shift?
No surprises here: technology.
Now, instead of looking at how one patient is doing in a hospital, we have the capability to monitor an entire hospital to see the entire population health. Providers are now looking at how they can change their model to reflect healthier populations. The result we’re seeing is a lot of integration of people and data — expanding the opportunity for a big data healthcare system.
“For the eleventh quarter in a row, the U.S. health services industry witnessed over 200 deals.” – PWC LLP Q2 2017 Health Services deal activity report
In general, moving from a treatment model to a prevention model is less expensive, which is a huge motivator for the healthcare industry. On the other hand, this is shifting the cost of care. Providers need to provide better outcomes, otherwise they will not get the reimbursement, and in turn, we as consumers are seeing higher deductibles.
At the end of the day, as consumers pay more, they are also becoming more careful and discernable healthcare shoppers. Here are a few more ways consumers are responding:
- Embracing new technologies
- Being more selective in choosing care + care providers
- Delaying and forgoing care
“Behavioral science shows that people’s choices are driven not only by rational factors but also by a variety of societal, emotional, and psychological drivers.” - McKinsey, January 2010
Below, seven ways technology supports consumer behavior and the focus on prevention:
- Big data
- Genetic mapping
- Artificial intelligence
- Hand-held real-time on-demand Dx and solutions
- Wearables and bio-sensors
- Opt-in clinical studies in the cloud
Through data-driven care and metrics, we are also seeing a rise in new levels of care personalization and predictive modeling. Virtual visits and home care is a trend you may see more of in 2018.
From passive recipients to active participants, our role and expectations in healthcare as consumers and patients has been fundamentally redesigned.
Successful companies will leverage this change and make emotional connection with their brand a part of their broad strategy, involving every function in the value chain – from product development and marketing to sales and services.
7 Challenges Facing Pharmaceutical Packaging Today
The healthcare landscape is changing. With new levels of transparency, consumers have access to more information than ever. Advancements in healthcare technology allow consumers to actually bring in information to enable real-time conversations with healthcare professionals, sourced from electronic medical records, wearables, or smart devices.
On a global level, there has been a shift to value-based care, from CMS reimbursement for numbers of procedures, to reimbursement for better patient outcomes. Through EMR and EHR mandates, there lies new insight into care data and population health.
In general, healthcare is moving from a treatment model to a prevention model. However, this is also shifting the cost of care. Providers need to provide better outcomes; otherwise they risk not getting reimbursed.
In turn, we as consumers are being asked to pay more. As a result, consumers have become more careful, and discerning healthcare shoppers. Consumers are responding to this shift by shopping more and embracing new technologies. They are also more selective in choosing care and care providers, while delaying and forgoing care.
“For the eleventh quarter in a row, the U.S. health services industry witnessed over 200 deals.” – PWC LLP Q2 2017 Health Services deal activity report
Successful health and wellness brands know how to market to physicians, appealing to their expertise and their desire to deliver better outcomes for their patients. Now, they need to learn how to market to consumers, appealing to the most fundamental desire of all.
Like other consumer brands, such as CPG, automotive, fashion, and electronics, they need to learn how to create strong emotional bonds and brand identification to last a lifetime by considering:
- Package information
- Health authority regulations
Below, seven challenges facing the pharmaceutical packaging industry today:
Globalization. The push to globalize, to capitalize on huge marketplaces in rapidly developing nations — with this comes pressure to adhere to complex standards.
Regulations. Developing and implementing superior processes related to rapidly evolving labels and new regulatory regimens for information and anti-counterfeiting.
Economics. Downward price pressure due to broad governmental and economic factors is an ongoing challenge for the pharma packaging industry.
New-product cost. A shrinking new-product pipeline, with fewer blockbuster drugs and increasing new-product cost.
Speed-to-market. The need for speed-to-market and agility to capitalize on short windows of exclusivity.
Informed consumers. Consumers are paying far more attention to the health, nutritional, and fitness benefits of the brands they buy, using information they find on the internet, through social media, and on a growing selection of “clean label” products to guide their choices.
In response, sophisticated branding and product information are being implemented to pharma packaging to satisfy demanding OTC consumers and ever-more-informed patients.
Serialization and usability. The requirement for a clear serialization strategy driven by the Falsified Medicines Directive — not only do patients need the correct medication without the risk of counterfeit products, they need to know how to use the packaging and have a clear understanding of how it works.
Brands still need to build physician awareness and trust through product-centered information. But to win with empowered consumers, they must also provide brand-centered relevance, based on insight into consumer behaviors, perceptions and preferences.
Beyond just behavior changes in terms of cost, behavioral science shows that people’s choices are driven not only by rational factors, but also by a variety of societal, emotional, and psychological factors.
5 Key Tips for Pharmaceutical Companies Outsourcing Artwork Services for Packaging
This blog was contributed by Stephen Marshman, Business Development Director, SGK.
While packaging and labeling errors account for more than half of product recalls; the bar for pharmaceutical packaging is set much higher than other market sectors — and for good reason. When errors could potentially cost a life, the pressure for accuracy in the life sciences category is a priority.
To avoid the many packaging hurdles facing pharma companies today and to streamline labeling and artwork production, follow the 5 steps below:
1. Find the right partner. Make sure you partner with a company who has done this before.
Using a third party provider to create your packaging artwork is not a particularly new concept. Lots of pharmaceutical companies, big and small, are already doing it and some have been doing it for years. That said, comparing the pharmaceutical industry with other industry sectors, the outsource market is still relatively immature and the number of specialist agencies providing this service isn’t large.
The specific industry requirements for pharma does mean that the bar is set higher and there are even fewer artwork suppliers who have proved their capability by providing this service for multiple pharma companies. It's a big change and comes with risks. You don’t want to be working with an agency that is doing this for the first time!
2. Know your options. Look for cost savings beyond the obvious.
Pharma companies usually go about the process of looking at outsourcing as part of a procurement-led cost-reduction strategy. This makes perfect sense and while the internal head-count reductions are understandably front-of-mind, to not look beyond this can be a blinkered, somewhat limited approach. Often, if sourcing teams across the organisation can be more joined up, there are significant opportunities to be found by looking into adjacent areas such as print. Here there can be big savings made by eliminating duplication on the part of printers who are often performing (and charging for) their own pre-press activities.
Over and above this, there are the bigger picture savings that can be gained by switching to a centralised, harmonised way of working with one or two external suppliers. This shift in model can drive huge efficiencies across the business in areas ranging from process simplification to streamlining materials and component formats. Sometimes harder to quantify, it’s these hidden costs that often yield the biggest savings of all.
3. Look to internal stakeholders. Recognise the importance of doing good internal communication can't be underestimated.
Due to the way sourcing projects work, especially those with sensitivities around areas such as redundancy, there is often a very small number of people in your organisation involved in the process until you have chosen your partner and announced the intention to outsource. This is a pivotal moment in the success of the project. Artwork touches multiple functions in an organisation and is likely to impact hundreds, if not thousands of your employees.
When the switch is flicked and the project shifts from something a handful of people were aware of, to one that affects a large number of your people, getting the messaging right and making sure people can understand what you are doing and why, is critical. Clear, timely and appropriately targeted communication and good project management are as vital as any other factors of getting an implementation right.
4. Make the transition. Be realistic about the pace of change.
No one should think getting this right is easy. Companies actually get it wrong in very different ways. This is a major transformation of an essential business process. Trying to do it too quickly, to meet an arbitrary deadline or because it feels like the right amount of time, could be a disaster. No two organisations are alike but there will be factors around scale, complexity and organisational culture that will help you plan how to optimise your critical path and decide how you will phase an implementation. There may be business-critical factors that impact your timeline too. Just as potentially dangerous as moving too fast is making the transition overly drawn out.
Being naturally risk averse – and there is certainly nothing wrong with that – some pharma companies will plan for a transition to be phased over many months or even years. This can also cause problems. The period of transition, or that time when you are effectively running two processes side by side, is one of uncertainty and sometimes a degree of duplication or even confusion. The optimal rate of change will be one that moves you to the desired future state as efficiently as possible, with all stakeholders aligned with the plan and without any compromise on risks.
5. Commit to success. Ensure the organisation is ready for the change to ensure success.
Outsourcing artwork should never be a box-ticking exercise. Your company shouldn’t do this because it helps meet a target that a senior executive set without them really understanding what making that change would entail. It can be a highly effective tool in helping unlock value, not just in the artwork process but across the end-to-end packaging supply chain. It can also be a powerful enabler that helps companies achieve a lot more than simply having their artwork created by a third party, rather than an in-house team.
However, if key functions across the business don’t fully appreciate this larger opportunity and what it will take to deliver it, and deliver it well, it is highly likely that the project will either fail, or at the very least, create noise in your business throughout a protracted and disruptive transition. Getting this right can bring many business benefits to the organisation. Making sure that the company understands what these benefits are, and that the organisation is ready to commit the time and the resource to make it work, is critical to your success.
From brand artwork, to package inserts, to serialized codes, a pharma product that can’t fail demands processes that help you get everything right the first time.
About Stephen Marshman: Stephen has twenty years’ experience in the artwork and packaging sector having begun his career with graphics specialist SGK in 1997. Today he works as a Business Development Director, focused on helping pharmaceutical companies implement best practice artwork processes. Stephen played a pioneering role in the development of SGK’s unique approach to working with pharmaceutical clients more than fifteen years ago and remains a key part of the global team today. Earlier in his career he enjoyed a range of client-facing roles, including working on-site at pharmaceutical clients’ facilities, providing him with valuable first-hand insights into the specific artwork requirements of the sector.
Best Practice Approaches to Implementing a Global Artwork Model
The global pharma market faces unprecedented complexities and pressures regarding the packaging and labelling of medicinal products. When your packaging and labelling can’t fail, how can you execute with confidence?
SGK will be exhibiting at the Pharmaceutical Packaging and Labelling Summit 19 – 21 June, 2017 in Zurich, Switzerland.
SGK plays a key role in assisting clients across a range of critical activities; from helping organizations to define their marketing supply chain strategies through to the delivery of packaging design and artwork production.
We are experts and innovators in packaging production and graphics processes and our technologies drive precise execution of printed materials in highly regulated, validated contexts worldwide. We also create and design over-the-counter brands and other shopper and patient-facing communications.
Also learn more at the summit about how Matthews Marking Systems can provide optimised solutions to the pharmaceutical sector’s current serialization challenges.
About Pharmaceutical Packaging and Labelling Summit: Pharma IQ’s Packaging and Labelling conference attracts over 100 packaging, labelling, and artwork experts from across big and small pharma, who come together to share case studies, discuss the current challenges, and most importantly find solutions! For more information, visit: https://packaginglabelling.iqpc.com
6 CPG Trends That Are Shaping Pharma Brand Marketing
The nature of branding has been redefined. By understanding today’s big consumer goods trends, pharma brands can position themselves for greater success, says Bruce Levinson, VP of Client Engagement at SGK.
In his recent BrandSquare Live Session, CPG Mega-Trends Influencing Pharma Brands, Bruce discussed six CPG mega-trends that are creating new risks…and new opportunities. Are you ready?
1. Global Consumerism – Today, access to international travel, cuisine, fashion and sports have created a new global consumer - one with a taste for the world beyond their doorstep. Millennials in particular are challenging accepted norms and not simply buying into the brands and products that their parents did. The range of products available to them is much more diverse, borrowing flavors, ingredients, raw materials and even philosophies from all corners of the globe.
As with CPG, patients are challenging norms in the pharmaceutical sector and are at the center of new healthcare models. While historically, pharma has focused on developing blockbuster drugs, the criteria for success has changed today. Patients are now equipped with more information at their fingertips and are actively involved in managing their own health. They’re considering remedies from around the world that go beyond conventional medicine, such as alternative medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.
2. Celebrating Authenticity – This is demonstrated by brands with a compelling, lasting narrative: the brands that don’t change with the whims and fancies of the latest fads, even newer brands that offer something distinctive and not easily copied.
The pharma sector is massively targeted for counterfeiting, which accounts for annual losses estimated at $75 billion. Packaging is a key part of the strategy for protecting the authenticity of the brand and ultimately patient safety. Pharma brands are leveraging multiple security techniques with varying degrees of success. Covert features enable brand owners to identify a product’s authenticity.
3. Sustainability Consciousness – Millennials don’t just know more about sustainability, they care more and often vote with their wallets. And today sustainability isn’t just about saving the planet. It’s about how a company and its brands interact with resources, people and even ideals. Sustainable sourcing, fair trade practices and even social corporate responsibility have become a new focus of packaging and marketing materials.
For pharma the act of putting a product in our bodies creates a much higher degree of personal importance than perhaps ecological sustainability. OTC consumers favor claims supporting purity and “natural-ness”. For instance BFS (blow-fill-seal) technology has gained market focus in recent years for its multiple sustainability advantages. With BFS, there’s no need to purchase or stock a range of pre-fabricated containers and sterilization is not required.
4. Specialization of Everything – Products have become over-engineered, providing perhaps more than we really need. The “Good, Better, Best” portfolio has evolved to include Super-Premium, Gourmet, Free-Form and Industrial. In the pharma sector, this has resulted in specialized “compound” customized medications. This practice is widely recognized as medically necessary. Prescriptions are based on patients’ needs under supervision.
5. Consumer Proactivity – Consumers are seeking information and guidance from brands in planning their family, finances, beauty and, of course, their health, making on-pack and on-line messaging strategy more important than ever. Patient-centric healthcare has been characterized by a number of trends as well. Passive patients have been replaced by patients who are engaged, which means pharmaceutical companies must take time to understand what these patients need.
6. Make It Easy – Consumers are faced with so many choices, they won’t waste their time and money on brands that make life too hard. What works: Fast-acting, convenient formats, on the go. Make it simple for them to navigate between flavors and functions. Research indicates that in most cases, packaging can contribute to improving adherence levels, which are shockingly low among patients with chronic conditions. Patients’ perception of their medication needs to change and innovative packaging can help address these areas.
Learn more about the consumer goods trends that are influencing how pharma brands are managed and marketed. Watch Bruce Levinson’s BrandSquare Live Session recording on YouTube!
Important Indian Pharma News Meshes With Recent SGK Patterns Article
In the current issue of SGK Patterns: Emerging Markets, Converging Opportunities, SGK explains the unique role of India in the world pharmaceutical market – how several decades of freedom from patent law gave it an edge in R&D and in global market share, as the leader in low-cost imitation drugs. A recent important news story from India suggests that the title of the Patterns story – “Every Challenge is an Opportunity: Manufacturing and Marketing Pharmaceuticals in India” – was on the mark:
The news of April 1 was that the Indian high court had struck down a petition by a major pharmaceutical company for patent protection of its very successful cancer drug. The pharmaceutical company said the drug was covered under Indian law that says drugs patented before 1995 are patent-protected; the court ruled that the version now being copied is different from the version the company had patented in 1993.
The ruling related to just one drug, but press coverage showed that it could have huge impact. Pharma representatives felt that the ruling was a step backward in progress toward Western-style patent protection that India began in 2005 with updated laws. And that it would prompt other developing countries to swing against patent protections going forward.
Public health officials were glad for the ruling, because the drug in question costs considerably less in generic, making it much more available to sick people worldwide.
The news is a perfect example of the complicated nature of world pharma. How do courts and governments balance the need for intellectual property protection, product research and the availability of affordable medicines? Here is The New York Times’ account of the Indian court’s judgment; read it along with Every Challenge Is an Opportunity: Manufacturing and Marketing Pharmaceuticals in India. You’ll see that the article could also have been entitled “Every Opportunity Is a Challenge.”