The Top 15 pharmaceutical companies in the Central America and Caribbean (CENCA) market list is dominated by familiar big pharma players. However, among the liked of Sanofi, Abbott, Bayer, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Novartis sits Megalabs – a Latin American player that has been able to establish itself as a regional giant.
The Uruguay-based firm sits in second place on the overall list, beating out all but one of those household names. According to recent IQVIA data, the company grew 4.5 percent in 2019 and achieved USD 177 million in sales from the Rx and OTC CENCA retail market, just shy of Abbott’s USD 196 million.
[Megalabs’ growth] has come during times of frequent economic, political and social turmoil
Marcos Giusti, chief medical officer, Megalabs
The company’s chief medical officer, Marcos Giusti, explained in a recent op-ed that the company’s growth “has come during times of frequent economic, political and social turmoil… Megalabs has seen and experienced these changes firsthand over the past two decades. Within that timeframe, the Latin American population grew from 500 to 650 million people, and the social security systems in place do not always provide universal access to healthcare and medicines.”
The company has a presence in 18 countries across Latin America and states that almost a quarter of all doctors in the region prescribe their products. It owns 17 production sites, a portfolio with more than 1,800 products and six R&D centers. In part thanks to that vast infrastructure, the company controls 5.4 percent of the CENCA market, more than Novartis and AstraZeneca combined.
Calling itself a “future-oriented company holding a consolidated reputation as one of the key pharma players in Latin America”, in July of 2020, Megalabs announced that it would be partnering with US-based Cannabidiol (CBD) company Mederra to take their products to Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.
According to a 2017 article from Reuters, the company is controlled by German twin brothers Andreas and Thomas Struengmann. The Struengmann brothers founded generic drugmaker Hexal AG in 1986 and sold it to Novartis for USD seven billion in 2005. In addition to Mega Pharma – initially a joint venture with Argentine billionaire Alberto Roemmers – the Struengmann’s portfolio also includes German’s BioNTech, which has hit the headlines in recent months for its COVID -19 vaccine candidate, developed in collaboration with Pfizer.