Country Report: Czech Republic - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Country Report: Czech Republic

Pharmaceutical Executive


A reasonable environment

Is the Czech market attractive? Ultimately, the answer can perhaps be derived from a straightforward assessment. Minister Heger remarks, "A good measure of attractiveness is the number of drugs that are not available on the market due to poor business conditions in the country. This has happened in the Czech pharma industry in the past: approximately twice a year, a particular drug has disappeared from the market. One reason is parallel export, of course—but there are also some companies that do not come to the market or chose to exit the market because of a lack of economical attractiveness. We see that the number of drugs absent from the market is not increasing, and the broader supply of drugs is quite stable. Looking at this measure, I would argue that the business environment is reasonable."

Grievances or no, players on the market seem to agree, and the launch of new drugs is continuous—indeed, perhaps it is an insulator against turbulence. The proof, then, is in the pudding. Teva has launched the most diverse portfolio on the market; Richter Gedeon introduces 5-7 new products every year. Glenmark has grown at a rate of 25-30%, driven by portfolio expansion. Astellas and Janssen, with considerably more focused strategies, seek to continuously bring new innovation to stay above the flat market growth curve. As they contend with market pressures, stakeholders industry-wide seem to take a nonetheless optimistic view—within reason.

HUNDREDS OF SMALL STEPS

The Czech Republic has come a long way for a two-decade-old democracy. Already one of the most prosperous economies in the region, its standards, rules, policies, and demands for quality demonstrate unbelievable growth.

According to many, the healthcare system here is already on par with Western Europe—patients have access to the same level of care that can be found in Germany of France.

It is the legislation that is lacking. And yet, Jean-Philippe Duc, country manager of Amgen CR, ponders the question of whether it is fair to directly compare the Czech Republic to Western Europe. According to Duc, "For all of its successes, this is still a new country, and it is still not yet at the level of a nation like Germany in terms of the organization of the healthcare system. But the market is improving a lot—and there are additional reforms coming to spur further evolution.

"As a long-term goal, I believe that yes, in terms of things like predictability, the Czech market should look to compare itself with Western Europe. This is where we are going. However, I believe that it is unfair to the country to expect change in such a short timeframe. If we look at the evolutions that have taken place here in only 20 short years, it is quite remarkable." Like his colleagues throughout the industry, Duc is simultaneously challenged and rewarded by the Czech market. The boom time may be over—but players here are strategizing for the long-term.

A very positive development has come in the dialogue between parties. The CAFF's Emil Zörner happily reports, "What changed—particularly under the new administration—is that the Ministry now deals with the industry as partners. In the past, directives were handed down from the Ministry without consultation, and would often hit the industry by surprise. Today, the authorities are considerably more open. They listen to our suggestions, and incorporate some of them into legislation. In some fields, we have reached good progress."

Minister Heger leaves the international community with the following admonition: "The changes demanded in Czech healthcare often border on revolution. But I do not believe a revolution is necessary. Instead, I believe that after these last twenty years, what we need to do is tune up the system, with hundreds of small steps."

This sponsored supplement was produced by Focus Reports.

Project Director: Andrey Muntyan

Project Coordinator: Mathilde Paquet

Project Assistants: Zuzana Kudelova Martijn Jimmink

Project publisher: Beatrice Collet

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