Size Matters Less in Slovakia
Pharma companies in Slovakia are managing to circumvent the problems inherent in the size of the local market by focusing on the country’s advantages in market access and regional leadership, as well as through joining together with affiliates in neighboring Czech Republic.
Slovakia is, in comparison to most of its regional neighbours, a small country in terms of both geography and population. Consequentially, despite progressive, reformist noises emanating from the halls of the Ministry of Health spearheaded by new Minister Tomas Drucker, the potential in the domestic pharmaceutical and healthcare markets is limited. However, some companies implanted in Slovakia are seizing the potential that the country has to offer in areas such as market access, best practice, the development of the market and Slovak culture. Others have adopted a more regional approach, identifying the potential of partnering and consolidating with affiliates in neighbouring countries to reduce costs, share ideas, and drive growth.
Market access is a big advantage for Slovakia. For Novo Nordisk general manager Aleksandar Ciric, “Slovakia’s importance has increased due to the ease of market access … and the wide portfolio that we have available here.” Affiliates in Slovakia can bring products to market more quickly than their neighbors, meaning the country becomes a market testing ground for the region. This conception of Slovakia being a regional leader in certain areas is reinforced by Merck managing director Leonard Sojka, who states that the Merck Slovakia affiliate “belongs to the best in the region in some areas (e.g. neurology) and we frequently share our best practices with other CEE countries.”