EXCELLENCE TO COUNTER AUSTERITY
"Hungary is extremely well positioned and a front-runner in some of the toughest austerity measures. Yet, many of the pharmaceutical
companies have the cream of their portfolio in a good shape in Hungary," Janssen-Cilag's country managing director Anna Romány
says. "Being good enough is not enough in times when governments have to be picky about what can be reimbursed. You have to
be excellent. This is why all our products managed to be on the reimbursement list, while I am sure that we can achieve the
same status for our two new products," she adds. "Hungary has one of the lowest life expectancies in Europe," Romány continues,
"and faces a rather similar level as Romania. Statistics are even worse for males than females. Hungary's drug spending per
capita is also half of the Western-European average. In terms of mortality there is thus definitely room for improvement.
Even more so, it is unavoidable," she concludes.
Anna Romány, Managing Director of Janssen-Cilag
"When I arrived in Hungary in 2007, the country had just been through the first overhaul of the healthcare system," recalls
Novo Nordisk's country general manager Morten Vaupel. "When the new government came in in 2010, it was clear that the new
policymakers were facing a number of significant financial challenges," he says. While Vaupel has always recognized that Hungary
was a market with certain risk, the external environment has not necessarily prevented the world's leading diabetes company
to enjoy positive growth numbers in Hungary.
Morten Vaupel, General Manager of Novo Nordisk
"In the last four years, we have been proud to be part of the top five or six fastest-growing Novo Nordisk subsidiaries in
Europe. Moreover, we have been among the top 10 fastest-growing companies in Hungary, according to IMS data," Vaupel posits.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one out of 10 Hungarians will, to some extent, suffer from diabetes by
2014. Moreover, the track record of most international pharma companies in Hungary is far from negative, and to a large extent
this is due to the vast potential in terms of meeting the population's unmet medical needs.
Gábor Zalai, General Manager of Boehringer Ingelheim
With 28 clinical trials running in the country, Boehringer Ingelheim's (BI) country general manager Gábor Zalai barely disagrees.
Looking back on a decade where the company climbed the ranks from 47th to 17th in Hungary, Zalai stresses the importance of
being present in the newest therapeutic guidelines. According to him, rather than the company saying how excellent its products
are, these professional guidelines are a far stronger means to ensure the use of specific drugs. "Especially in the treatment
of COPD, we are now the market leader and are proud that Spiriva is the No. 1 product in the retail and the pulmonology business,"
comments Zalai. "BI does not have this leading position with Spiriva in any other market. In terms of market share, this comes
down to 21%, and we are treating round 40,000 patients. That is a great success, which is thanks to a long-term investment
in the field of COPD," he adds. Looking ahead, Zalai is keen to replicate Boehringer Ingelheim's previous success in another
area of highly unmet medical need in Hungary: the prevention of stroke. "The current gold standard therapy will be replaced
by our medication ... In five years from now, Pradaxa will become a very important trademark that all doctors will know about,"
Erik Bogsch, Managing Director of Gedeon Richter
"As far as the future is concerned, I believe that there are two key issues which concern every pharma company," posits Erik
Bogsch. "The first is the very critical budget problem in every country and the measures that the different governments are
taking. The second is the price erosion issue. Sustainability is an important aspect. While the growth potential is there
because of an overall aging population, price erosion and budget constraints cannot be ignored," explains the managing director
of Hungary's flagship national champion Gedeon Richter.