The New Pharmaceutical Frontier

With patents expiring in high numbers, new-product pipelines drying up, and intensifying competition from generics, the multinational pharmaceutical companies faced a challenging decade. Emerging markets offer an obvious opportunity to boost sales, but seizing it will require putting affordability at the core of the business model.

SINGAPORE – It has been a challenging decade for the pharmaceutical industry. With patents expiring in high numbers, new-product pipelines drying up, and intensifying competition from generics, branded pharmaceuticals have been haemorrhaging value.

At the same time, traditional markets are becoming saturated. Stark realities in industrialized countries – such as the impact of aging populations on tax-based and employer-funded health-care models – are leading governments to adopt regulatory regimes that demand more economical, value-based, and transparent drug pricing.

Under these circumstances, emerging markets present a new frontier. Originally attractive for offering low-cost production, developing countries now present a viable market for multinational corporations. The pharmaceutical industry has been eyeing this trend for a while. A recent study predicts that sales in 17 “pharmerging” countries – including India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam – will “in aggregate expand by $90 billion during 2009-2013.”

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