Erich Viertel Molina, country manager at Janssen Chile speaks about Janssen’s commitment to the health of Chileans. Over the past years Janssen successfully launched several products to the Chilean market and continued to deliver a strong performance in the country.
Mr. Viertel, what could you tell us about the developments for Janssen in Chile since we last met in 2010?
Janssen is all about innovation – developing, producing and providing innovative healthcare solutions for patients. Our strategy therefore has been to bring innovative products to the Chilean market. The core value of Janssen is saving or improving patients’ lives in Chile with our innovative products.
Janssen is actively developing treatments for patients in five important therapeutic areas of healthcare: cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, immunology, infectious diseases, neuroscience, and onco-hematology.
Over the past years we have successfully launched several products to the Chilean market. In onco-hematology we have launched ZYTIGA® (abiraterone acetate) to treat patients with advanced prostate cancer and RIBOMUSTIN® (bendamustin), a new treatment option for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, indolent Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Additionally to these new products already launched, we have also introduced new routes of administration of our products, such as VELCADE® (bortezomib) Subcutaneous. In Immunology we have launched SIMPONI® (golimumab), a once-monthly self-injectable biologic treatment for rheumatoid artritis, ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis. In the Infectious Disease therapeutic area we launched INCIVO® (telaprevir), an innovative therapy that significantly increases the hepatitis C cure rate and is indicated for those patients infected with genotype 1, the most prevalent virus in our country.
We have also continued to deliver strong performance in Chile in primary care (especially in gynecology) and in the neuroscience areas, which are important in our market.
At Janssen, what matters most to us is a healthy outcome for each patient. We are committed to providing safe and effective medicines as well as the services and support that contribute to healthy outcomes.
When we met Tom Heyman in Belgium he told us that every time he met founder Dr Paul Janssen, he always asked the same question: “what is new?” Multiple times a day he would ask that same question and you had better provide him with a good and different answer each time! So I have to ask you, what is new?
What is new for our business in Chile is our focus on specialty areas such as onco-hematology and immunology. We are collaborating with external parties at every stage of our value chain -from early discovery to market access- to address real patient needs. In order for us to be successful we need to understand the patients’ access needs not only in public but also in private healthcare systems. Ensuring access to innovative medication for a broad segment of the population is not only an industry priority, but the government is also working hard in this field.
In addition to our 2012/2013 onco-hematology, immunology and infectious diseases product launches, this year we are introducing a new therapy for Type 2 Diabetes that allows patients to have effective and sustained control of the blood glucose level, called INVOKANA® (canagliflozin).
As a Board Member of the CIF, the association of the Chilean innovative pharmaceutical industry, what are your expectations going forward in terms of dialogue between the government and industry?
As Vice President of the Board at CIF, I can tell you that for many years we have been working in collaboration with the government and health authorities and I definitely believe we are moving in the right direction. I feel that there is a good atmosphere of communication and collaboration between the different stakeholders -with government, universities, and the industry. As an industry representative, we have an active dialogue with the Ministry regarding the expansion of access to innovative medicines, but the discussion is still young and we still have a lot to do.
In Chile there are certain medical concerns impacting public health that need to be addressed. For example, the prevalence of diabetes in Chile is above the global average, which implies a lot of work in terms of reducing this number.
The Chilean pharmaceutical market is known for its highly competitive environment lead by generic manufacturers which produce very low-cost products. How would you rate the quality of products currently available to patients?
Generic medicines that have been approved through rigorous regulatory processes play an important role in ensuring access for patients. But not all of them have been approved in this way in Chile.
In this country, bioequivalence as a standard has been established just in the last three years; therefore, most generic drugs are not yet certified as bioequivalent. Fortunately, the government has been moving forward in a positive way.
At Janssen, we are focused on introducing innovative and original medicines and continue looking for innovative solutions not only in medication but also in services and support to patients.
Has Janssen experienced any violation of its patents in Chile and how has this affected Janssen’s operations in the country?
Although the government has been doing its best to improve intellectual property protection, there is still a lot of work to do. There are copies in the Chilean market, which is no longer only a challenge for the pharmaceutical companies, but is also a challenge for the local authorities.
You have more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, all which was spent at Janssen. Do you feel the industry has changed more over the past five years than over the entire 20 years before?
Yes, absolutely. I started as a medical sales representative, so I´ve seen and experienced many changes throughout these years. One of the greatest changes I have seen in the Chilean pharmaceutical market is the “Plan AUGE” and access to innovative medicines.
Timely access to the world’s latest and most innovative medicines will make the country healthier and more productive. New medicines, for example, can help to reduce productivity losses due to worker illnesses, lower absenteeism rates, and improve school attendance, all of which will contribute to accelerated economic growth and help to decrease poverty. The government has become aware of this opportunity and is today fostering a better environment for the innovative industry.
Some, however, will still find access to healthcare and medicines difficult because of cost. Where cost is truly a barrier to treatment, healthcare stakeholders, including insurers, pharmaceutical companies, providers, governments and others can and must find creative solutions to help patients, something to which Janssen is deeply committed.
What is your vision for the Chile and Janssen within it for the next 3 to 5 years?
Finding the best path to lead Chile toward economic development has been a continuous task of Chilean governments and leaders during the last century. And if the country is able to sustain its current momentum, at the end of this decade it will probably become the first fully developed country in Latin America. At Janssen we should take advantage of this prospect and grow with the country.
At Janssen we are committed to expanding access to innovative medicines for the Chilean population and we will continue to work with the government and associations to do so. The company’s success relates back to Dr. Paul Janssen’s spirit and philosophy – constantly trying to foster an environment of collaboration and communication which results in innovation and healthier lives for people.
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