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Interview

María Angélica Herrera Azócar, Country Manager, Ferrer, Chile

23.05.2014 / Pharmaboardroom

Maria Herrera  final picOur business model is new in the Chilean market and enables us with great flexibility and allows us to focus on demand generation.  For Ferrer this is a great window display of our business model, based on science, patient needs and prescription, to the region and the world, explains María Angélica Herrera Azócar, Country Manager Ferrer Chile.

You have been with Ferrer Chile since 2010. What have been the main milestones and achievements of the company in the last four years?

I have known Ferrer and its products for some time.  Silesia and Andromaco used to sell Ferrer’s products on the Chilean market. Between 2002 and 2010 I worked for Laboratorios Silesia, which is now part of the Grunenthal Group.

Licensing out products to big local Companies such as Andromaco and Silesia comes with challenges. These companies are interested in selling products that generate high margins, which generally are their own products.  On the other hand research companies such as Ferrer conduct science based marketing that require high investment, their prices are higher but the margins are generally lower. As a result Ferrer’s products did not receive the attention they deserved according to the Companies objectives regarding the development of each one.

At the same time Servier, a privately owned French pharmaceutical company, was looking for a new partner in Chile to continue their business.

Following several meetings and discussions between Barcelona and Paris it was decided to join forces and start this affiliate in Chile.

As I had worked with Ferrer since 2002 I was approached to become the general manager of the newly established company.

We started off with just the Servier products. This was especially challenging because Servier has been in and out the market due to changes in their distributors so we had to gain the confidence of doctors that this time the products were here to stay and with us.  Ferrer was also ending most of its licensing agreements with Andromaco thus these products naturally also became part of our portfolio.

Today the affiliate has two business units: Ferrer and Servier. I have received invitation to do business with European companies aiming to launch their products in the region. These companies are approaching us because of our promotional model, based on science and the patients need. We always put the patient in the centre. It is because of him we are.  Small to medium sized pharmaceutical companies will generally not set up affiliates here nor will they license out their products to large local companies but prefer to work with an organization like us.

This affiliate is very light; we only focus on the marketing of our products. Logistics, sales and finance has been outsourced. This is a rather new model in our market that enables you with great flexibility and allows you to focus on demand generation.  And for Ferrer this is a great window display of our business model, based on science, patient needs and prescription, to the region and the world.

How does Ferrer demonstrate the value of its products?

All our product have been widely studied regarding their mechanism of action thus their therapeutic indication, their efficacy and also their safety. All of this information is available for our doctors to consult. Clinical investigation is continually being performed to maintain our physicians updated.

We are very focused in communicating all of this research to our doctors.  So, one of my first tasks was to organize the field force. We increased the number of the team and invested significantly in training them. The one to one contact with our Doctors is key to communicate our message. We work hard to have the best field force that clearly understands the doctor’s needs regarding the patient, perfectly knows the products and can make the perfect link between both.

We have prepared a multi-channel digital approach. Due to this approach we are directly responding to our customers’ needs by innovating in the way we bring the information they need, in the format they choose, at the time of their convenience. Based on available data, the internet is one of the ways physicians prefer to conduct scientific and data updates.


What have been your growth drivers the last year?

The key factors have been pulling the products back into the market as well as launching NCE.

At the same time we have gained the confidence of doctors, now that our products remain available in the Chilean market.  Having all our product offer available has given us more awareness.

We work very closely with doctors understanding   their patients need.  These Companies have enormous scientific information regarding the mechanism of action, indications, efficacy and safety of their products, so our challenge has been to put all of this data in the hands of doctors in the easiest way possible due to the fact that today their time is scarce.  We are constantly developing meetings with KOL, both local and international to generate discussion and share experience as well as new scientific information.  We also actively participate in scientific events both in Chile and abroad to keep a close contact with the medical community.

Do you feel as though you have a responsibility to bring innovation to developing markets like Chile?

Yes, there is a continuous responsibility to bring innovation to all people in Chile.

Chile is working hard to achieve development. Today patients that have private insurance can mainly profit from innovation, but we expect this will change in the coming years and enable more patients to access innovative medicines.  The Chilean healthcare system has improved, although it is yet far away from giving solution to all the healthcare needs of our population. We have a very professional medical community, in constant search for scientific advances. We need to bring all the therapeutic tools that area available abroad to Chile. That is our challenge and responsibility.

Could Chile’s growing biotech sector be an outlet for more partnerships?

For Ferrer, innovation is collaborative. We are proactive in establishing strategic alliances with hospitals, biotech companies, public research bodies, academic institutions and other pharmaceutical companies all over the world. Only by building partnerships, sharing our knowhow and exploring synergies can we advance scientific research and meet the increasing challenges involved in developing new treatments such as biotech products and putting them in the markets.

With regard to biotech companies, we have been approached by some of these companies that are very interested in launching their products in the region. This market will grow due to the expansion of the biotech sector, no doubt. Ferrer offers an interesting model of marketing and sales for them.

How would you rate the importance of Chile for Ferrer’s global operations?

Latin America in a whole has become extremely important for Ferrer. The continent represents 21 per cent of total sales for the Group and I expect this number to increase in the coming years.

For Chile specifically, we are in the process of launching several products, which require significant investment. Today this affiliate has reached a break-even point in sales turnover. More importantly and in addition to making a profit for the Ferrer Group, the Chilean affiliate also contributes to Ferrer’s global image and reputation by offering a commercial platform to add to the worldwide commercial coverage of Ferrer Group.

The key to Ferrer’s global expansion has been to establish its own subsidiary when possible or a commitment to establishing and developing long-term partnerships and strategic alliances in each place. That being said, for Ferrer it is a big opportunity to be here and to gain partnerships with other companies in the region as well.

What are the products that you are so excited about?

The Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) and Ferrer, are developing the world’s first polypill for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular accidents in patients already undergoing treatment.

The CNIC is a public institution connected to the Carlos III Health Institute, which, under the leadership of its General Director, the distinguished cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster, has become a leading international research organization.

This polypill represents a significant advance in the worldwide treatment of cardiovascular diseases which up to date is still responsible for many deaths. The objective is to reduce the risk of suffering a second cardiovascular event and eventually die, by assuring the patient will follow the treatment as indicated by the doctor, that he will have all its medicines taken regularly.  Unfortunately this is not so in too many cases, the compliance is very low, so the patient is left unprotected. The polypill has all the drugs prescribed in one capsules, this will assure compliance. So it provides medical professionals with a new therapeutic alternative, of proven efficacy, to improve patient adherence. In Chile we aim to launch this product as part of the national Healthcare policy.

Another product I am enthusiastic about is from Alexza, a pharmaceutical company based in the United States. This company’s innovative products are based on the proprietary Staccato® system, an inhaler which vaporizes excipient-free drugs, achieving pharmacokinetic properties similar to intravenous administration and rapid systemic effects. Adasuve® is designed for the rapid treatment of mild to moderate agitation in adults with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder 1, by combining the Staccato system with loxapine, an antipsychotic drug currently available in various formulations.

We are carefully selecting the products that are available in Ferrer’s global portfolio to bring to Chile.

I believe it is imperative to bring innovation, so we will not launch backwards.

What is your vision for Ferrer Chile going forward?

First and foremost I aim to build an attractive environment for the people working for Ferrer Chile such as the one you can find in Barcelona. I think we have achieved to create such an environment and to have given our team the vision of Ferrer as a dynamic company with solid growth prospects.  A great place to work.

We plan to launch new products so we will continue to increase our sales force, and have representative throughout the whole country.

Ferrer has wonderful products available and an interesting pipeline so  I sincerely hope that we  will contribute to make life better for our Chilean patients.

To read more interviews and articles on Chile, and to download the latest free report on the country, click here.

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