Pfizer brings know-how to pharma market

09:00 | 02/03/2018

As one of the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer Inc. commits to long-term business and investment activities in Vietnam, cashing in on growing local demands. Bradley Silcox, chief representative of Pfizer Thailand Limited in Ho Chi Minh City, discussed its future strategies for Vietnam with VIR’s Bich Thuy.

How has Pfizer performed in Vietnam since its 2003 establishment in the country? Also, with its activity in over 175 countries, what global values has Pfizer brought to Vietnam?

pfizer brings know how to pharma market
Bradley Silcox

Pfizer has performed well and remains one of the top firms in Vietnam. Vietnam, like other comparable countries, is in the midst of a critical epidemiological transition. Inroads have been made to reduce communicable diseases. However, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, are rapidly rising. For example, the number of new cancer cases in Vietnam has grown from 69,000 in 2000 to 150,000 in 2015.

Pfizer has a leading portfolio of products and medicines that support wellness and prevention, as well as treatment and cures for diseases across a broad range of therapeutic areas. We also have an industry-leading pipeline of promising new products that have the potential to challenge some of the most feared diseases of our time, like cancer.

We bring innovative high-quality health care products to the Vietnamese market in the areas of cardiovascular disease, anti-infectives, and oncology sterile injectables.

In recent years, we have collaborated with academia, non-government organisations, scientists, patient foundations, governments, and other biopharmaceutical companies, as well as treating physicians. In 2017, Pfizer partnered with Population Services International to develop Healthy Communities. The $1 million collaboration will expand access to life-saving treatments in Vietnam and Myanmar.

Competition in the Vietnamese market has stiffened. What are the challenges and opportunities for Pfizer in the local market?

In 2014, the Vietnamese government announced its national strategy on the development of the local pharmaceutical industry as part of efforts to build a more innovative economy. In response, a number of multinational companies have explored opportunities to partner with domestic manufacturers on the tech transfer of essential medicines. This is not only raising manufacturing capacity, it is also enhancing capabilities through knowledge transfer that will stimulate drug exports.

However, biopharmaceutical investment expands far beyond our manufacturing operations. Research and development (R&D) is a sizeable and sustainable source of investment that no other industry invests more in. In 2017, Pfizer invested approximately $8 billion in R&D. Early-stage clinical research is concentrated in established life science eco-systems, but certain R&D activities, such as clinical trials, are increasingly located in emerging markets.

Vietnam is attracting more clinical research investment, but this could be accelerated. To illustrate, the number of global clinical trials conducted in the country has grown by 20 per cent in the last two years; however, this is only one-fifth of the number conducted in Thailand.

The policy environment matters a great deal for biopharmaceutical investment decisions, commercial activities such as public-private partnerships, clinical research, and manufacturing operations. This investment is particularly important for those economies with an emerging biopharmaceutical industry as it will allow them to leapfrog over other countries going forward. However, there is strong competition for investment within the ASEAN region specifically, with a number of countries looking to develop world-class life science eco-systems.

We would urge the government to consider six key enabling policies and legislative factors to be worked on jointly with both the domestic and foreign industries. They are strong intellectual property protections, clear technology transfer arrangements and incentives, investment in clinical research and infrastructure, a harmonised regulatory system, investment in human capital, and fair market access.

What is Pfizer’s future business strategy for Vietnam? Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are now one of the most attractive investment channels. Does Pfizer have any M&A plans in Vietnam?

For Pfizer, Vietnam is not only an important country with which to do business, we also see it as a potential location to manufacture our products and play our role in developing an innovative hub in the coming years. We are also committed to manufacturing high-quality products in Vietnam. We believe that by manufacturing high-quality medicines in the country, we will not only share Pfizer’s world-class international manufacturing expertise, but can also provide technical, manufacturing, and regulatory support services. Pfizer has also committed to the technology transfer of 11 essential molecules to be locally manufactured in the country. This multi-million dollar investment represents an opportunity to leverage Pfizer’s quality standards and processes to boost Vietnam’s pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity and capabilities.

As part of our commitment to delivering high-quality, trusted medicines to help people get and stay healthy on an unparalleled global scale, both in reach and breadth, Pfizer acquired Hospira in 2015 – a leading provider of injectable drugs and infusion technologies, and a global leader in biosimilars. Through this acquisition, Pfizer now owns the most advanced technologies in packaging systems for cytotoxic drugs, including Onco-Tain and CytoSafe.

Pfizer has a proud tradition of over 70 years in anti-infectives. The recent strategic acquisition of the former AstraZeneca small molecule anti-infectives firm has contributed to our leadership position in this space. Today, we are the largest anti-infective company globally, with approximately 80 assets.

Bich Thuy

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