Leo Pharma and Valeant Executives Explain Why They Chose Mexico As Their Gateway to Latin America

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Two companies from two different countries chose Mexico as their entry market to Latin America. The heads of these companies spoke to PharmaBoardroom about their market entry strategies.

Edmée Stenken, senior area director Latin America, Leo Pharma

Many things have changed at Leo Pharma in the last 15 years: we have moved from being a company mainly focused on the European and Canadian markets to a team that is reaching out to the rest of the world. Three years ago we consolidated the dermatology division and divided the world in five regions according to their market characteristics. With this regionalization and because of the different social and economic circumstances, it became evident that the needs of the patients varied according to each specific region. Our response has been to develop diverse portfolios for each area. For example, we introduced larger pack sizes for the treatment of skin infections, a very common condition in Latin America, but at a reduced price per treatment. 

“It became evident that the needs of the patients varied according to each specific region. Our response has been to develop diverse portfolios for each area.”

Edmée Stenken, Senior Area Director Latin America, Leo Pharma

We are happy to have strengthened our organization in Mexico and Latin America as well and are planning to launch new solutions, such as smaller pack sizes for our products, so more people are able to afford them. We want to leave a strong footprint in the market and in the region. We are focusing on making sure that patients are getting good quality medical care; it is not only about the products and how they use them, it’s much more than that. I would like to move to a more patient-centered view by looking at local needs: we should find localized models to reach each Leo Pharma region because one size does not fit it all.

Fernando Zárate, general manager Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and the Andean region, Valeant

Mexico is Valeant’s most important market in Latin America – well ahead of Brazil, which is 20 percent smaller – and the 11th worldwide. To consolidate its footprint in the country, Valeant acquired the local generics maker Tecnofarma in 2009 and specific product lines from the branded generic manufacturer Atlantis Pharma in 2012. In Mexico we want to maintain the same philosophy of acquisitions that characterizes the company globally. We are currently evaluating the acquisition of some new companies, both locally as well as in the region I’m in charge of, which encompasses Central America, the Caribbean and the Andean region (Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador).

Valeant is a unique company in the pharmaceutical industry, in Mexico as well as all over the world. It works with very different channels and each market has a high degree of freedom with regard to decision making, which results in flexibility and fast action. In Mexico we participate in all sales channels with more than 200 products. After the acquisition of Tecnofarma back in 2009 the company decided to keep the 55-year old Grossman brand to leverage its high awareness among physicians, and it paid off: today Grossman represents 70 percent of our business in the country. We also offer contract manufacturing services to pharmacy chains. In 2014 we actually launched a new strategic business unit that only focuses on private labels and reviews all molecules we have in our different businesses to identify new product options we can offer to our local clients. We are a very diversified and sales-oriented company and our flexibility allows us to take advantage of all opportunities the market offers.

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