Country Report: Colombia - Pharmaceutical Executive


Country Report: Colombia

Pharmaceutical Executive


Gloria Stella Gonzalez Perez, President Advance Scientific
Michael Himmel, general manager Andean Region of Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda, noted that "the difference between Colombia and other Latin American markets basically lies in the comparative de-centralization of key customers over the country. Being successful in Colombia means being able to adapt to this structural and geographical reality. The fact that Colombian healthcare practitioners are professional and very well prepared makes this task manageable." The evidence of this de-centralization is seen in that pharmaceutical companies are found not only in Bogotá but throughout the country. Colombia's flagship pharmaceutical company, Tecnoquímicas, is based in Cali, as well as multinationals such as Johnson & Johnson, or Reckitt Benckiser. Procaps, another of Colombia's biggest pharmaceutical companies is headquartered in Baranquilla. Colombia's pharmaceutical market is also unusual in that a number of the top companies in the country are domestic. This may be an indicator of the growth potential for local companies looking to expand in the Colombian market.

Alberto Bravo Borda, Executive President ASINFAR
Pharmaceuticals contribute roughly 2.5 percent of the Colombian economy and the majority of companies in the country have been steadily increasing profits. Rodrigo Arcila Gomez, executive director of the Pharmaceutical Chamber of the National Business Association (ANDI) notes that "the problem of insecurity has decreased, external debt is controlled well, and foreign investment is increasing. For the time being, the pharmaceutical sector is importing more than exporting. However, the cost of production is really low," which, according to Gomez, is a solid advantage for Colombia.

Emilio Sardi A., Executive Vice President Tecnoquimicas
The fact that all three credit agencies have upgraded Colombia's government debt to investment grade, according to the Central Intelligence Agency Factbook, is an indication of an improving economy. Mario Sturion, general manager North Latin America cluster of Janssen said that "Colombia enjoys free trade agreements with many countries around the world. As a result, Colombia will be more aligned with international standards and regulations moving forward. Colombia also has a history of strong people development with universities, international programs and research institutes that nurture a well-prepared labor force. Colombia is a key country of focus for Janssen in Latin America." According to Sturion, Colombia offers "a stable political and economic environment, centers of excellence that can properly conduct international clinical trials and respect for intellectual property rights and innovation."

Colombia’s GDP has historically fluctuated between 4% and 7%, similar to household consumption expenditure
Colombia also has geographic advantages. "To be in Colombia is an advantage because it is an entry door for Central America," said Gloria Stella Gonzalez Perez, president of local pharmaceutical company Advance Scientific Group. "If I am in Asia, or in Europe, Colombia is very strategic in terms of logistics. Similarly, for investors, the fact that Colombia has harbors in two different oceans is an advantage for importing raw materials or technology. Moreover, Bogotá has many advantages: its infrastructure, talented people, and good training programs for the pharmaceutical industry."

Ensuring quality in all its processes and products is a priority in Tecnoquimicas. (Quality control laboratory in one of the manufacturing plants located in Cali, Colombia)
While numbers indicate slow growth, the pharmaceutical industry of Colombia has much room for potential given the country's economic improvement. Colombia's GDP has grown at a faster rate than Latin America's over the last 25 years. A quick walk throughout any of Colombia's major cities demonstrates a real sense of development that might not have existed as little as 20 years ago. However, even with the qualities for which stakeholders have accounted, there are still more mountains to climb to ensure Colombia's strong position in the global pharmaceutical market.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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