NATIONAL PHARMA REMIXED
Despite the optimism in the air, the country is still considered to be the most competitive pharma market in the Western hemisphere.
Such notoriety is still partly due to a preference for similars and generics by the public healthcare system, with original
drugs only representing 19.2% of the market. Another major factor is also the robust manufacturing capacity that Chile has
developed over the decades despite the small size of the market. Most exemplary of this is the national manufacturing giant,
Laboratorio Chile, "which today is the market leader in both branded and pure generics, and No. 2 in exports and the OTC market,"
explains general manager Hernan Pfeifer Frenz. The company is the producer of one out of every four pharmaceuticals consumed
in the country, and exports 20% of its production to 14 countries. The company's success was so glaringly obvious that the
company was acquired by IVAX in 2001 as part of a strategic expansion into the Latin American market, and consequently by
Teva in 2006 who acquired IVAX's global operations. All the same, Laboratorio Chile still retains its monolithic brand name
as part of the country's pride and joy.
Other notable national companies are Laboratorios Saval and Instituto Sanitas, both operating state-of-the-art production
facilities certified under GMP standards and offering extensive product portfolios that cover the therapeutic gamut—from oncology
to central nervous system (CNS) disorders, from cardiology to infectious diseases. These triumphs of Chilean pharma today
are reverberating in the region like never before, with Laboratorio Recalcine acquiring several Argentine laboratories in
the past few years and, even more impressively, a UK allergy-oriented vaccine producer in 2009. Some regional players have
decided to become a part of the action in Chile, as was the case with Argentina's pharmaceutical champion Roemmers, who entered
the market through its local subsidiary named Pharma Investi and ranked in the top 10. Pharma Investi general manager Fernando
del Puerto points out that the company "increased its sales fivefold in the last seven years ... moved up in the ranking and
improved its position mostly through organic growth."
The Industrial Association of Pharmaceutical Laboratories (ASILFA) that was created to defend the interests of the generic
and local manufacturers is working hard to erase the blemished past of patent violations and to shape a compliant and high-quality
national industry. In line with governmental reforms, Maria Angelica Sanchez, executive vice president of ASILFA, explains
that its current agenda is focused on raising production standards and increasing the role of innovation as part of the Chilean
industry. The first step to achieve this is by ensuring that national health authorities are efficient and up-to-date with
global regulatory norms. "The new presidential administration has already begun to address some of our concerns by tackling
these problems in small committees that deal with specific topics. These discussions will also include other companies that
are not part of our association," she explains.