Poland: A Sleeping Giant - Pharmaceutical Executive


Poland: A Sleeping Giant

Pharmaceutical Executive


Dr. Arvydas Norvaisas, General Manager, Torrex Chiesi Polska
Italian family-owned company and COPD specialist Chiesi is another company that has seen recent success in Poland's complex market. Having first forayed into Poland in 2001, it took roughly eight years for Chiesi to reach critical mass when its blockbuster respiratory product, Fostex, was granted reimbursement. "Before 2009 the operation in Poland was just a small affiliate, with a hospital portfolio focused on niche markets and sales in the range of €2 million to €3 million—low relative to the size of the market," recalls. Dr. Arvydas Norvaisas, general manager of Torrex Chiesi Poland. Fostex reimbursement immediately tripled sales, bringing in €10 million in sales in 2010, 65% from Fostex alone.

Sympathetic to the plight of innovation still seeking market access, Norvaisas sheds an interesting light on the reimbursement discussion. Referring to the cost-containment debate as a "schizophrenic state pervading Europe" he draws on a passage from the book "The Leader's Way," written by the Dalai Lama to best sum up his take on the state of the market: "While the amount of information is growing exponentially, people are becoming narrower in their worldview and are no longer able to understand how all these ideas for moving society interact. On the one side business moves in the direction of profits whilst society attempts to limit these profits." Moving beyond a monetary debate, Norvaisas urges government to recognize the social value behind pharmaceutical innovation. "I have a feeling, as the Dalai Lama said, that in this era of hypercommunication, hyperinformation, and informational noise, people and governments are losing capability to see and understand the essence of the matter," he asserts. "We should not talk about budgets. We should all together talk about long-term health needs of the population and the ways to satisfy those needs. At this level, all stakeholders should have common understanding and strategy. It is a pity that still a lot of mistrust, misinterpretation, and misunderstandings among governments and companies do not allow to bloom healthy process of communication between them. Solutions are there. It is just necessary to come to them from both sides.


Wojciech Kuczynski, General Manager, Pierre-Fabre Medicament Polska
In contrast to the uncertainties and ambiguities of future reimbursement schemes, an element of the value chain that pharmaceutical companies can confidently rely on in Poland are clinical trials and a strong research culture. Novartis Poland's country president, Don Bellamy, sums it up best: "Poland has a heritage of clinical trials and of being a center of excellence in the development of science. From the days of Marie Curie, there has been a legacy of medical discovery in Poland, today demonstrated by a dynamic and active clinical research platform."

A November 2010 PricewaterhouseCoopers report on clinical trials identified Poland as the largest clinical trials market among Central and Eastern European countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States. High level of medical education, improved standards and processes, and increasing accessibility to diagnostics drive the importance of clinical trials in Poland for multinational pharma companies. Merck is benefitting from this situation as well as contributing to it," says Michal Bichta, the Polish affiliate's managing director. "Indeed, most of the leading clinical operations at Merck Serono also take place in Poland. Poland is a solid part of the group's corporate strategy for clinical trials."

Pawel Miskiewicz, General Manager, Genzyme
Roberto Servi, managing director of Eli Lilly Poland, believes that a robust research culture and the strength of clinical trials in Poland will "increase the value of innovation in the country and the degree to which innovation and R&D are recognized in this country as an essential parameter for the patients and the community in general." Present in Poland for over 30 years, Lilly has done its part in innovating therapeutic treatments in Poland predominantly focusing on diabetes, neuroscience, critical care, and oncology. Its present strengths and a pillar of its business in Poland lie in human and analog insulin. "Since the beginning of our operations in Poland, the company has performed major breakthroughs in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes," Servi notes. "The market for insulin represents today over 60% of Lilly's sales in Poland thanks to its major brands, which makes insulin the main driver of the affiliate's growth."

Globally, Lilly has committed itself to organic growth and strategic alliances. Despite consolidation and acquisition trends among Big Pharma, Lilly sees itself as beyond the point in which it can substantially grow its innovation capacity through acquisition. This will therefore subsequently place a strong emphasis on homegrown innovation with Polish research and clinical trials playing a prominent role in the process. A company that breaks industry benchmarks in innovation—reinvesting approximately 20% of revenues in R&D—Lilly strives to further expand its current portfolio of therapeutic solutions in Poland by strengthening its focus on diabetes and neuroscience, as well as on areas such as cardiology and osteoporosis.

CAGR% (2000-2010)
A 30-year presence in Poland for Lilly is perhaps only outmatched by more than 100 years of operations for Novartis. "Through its various original companies, Novartis and its predecessors have been in this country since the 19th century," explains Bellamy. Citing the relevance of Polish research to his company, Bellamy says, "Novartis is one of the many companies that invest in Poland for the sake of clinical trials. The company indeed conducts a whole variety of clinical trials that cover the wide range of the company's portfolio. Novartis Poland has 3,000 patients on 80 clinical trials at this moment in the country. The standards of clinical research that this country offers, at relatively low cost compared to Western Europe, are very attractive for a company such as Novartis."

Clearly a dominant player in the market for clinical trials and innovative treatments, Novartis has also been steadily increasing its stake in the Polish generics market. Bellamy says, "Since the creation of Novartis in the early 1990s, there has been a rapid period of expansion for all our businesses, particularly with mergers and acquisitions for generics. Sandoz comes from a few acquisitions that took place in the last 10 years, the largest of them being the purchase of Lek Pharmaceuticals, a very large Eastern European generics manufacturer. This acquisition was the impulse that gave Sandoz the size it has today." With a critical mass behind its generics business, the combined Novartis-Sandoz entity makes it the No. 1 healthcare provider in Poland today and the market leader in 2010 sales according to IMS.


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