MIAMI, May 18, 2018 – It would be too simplistic to describe Latin America as just a “promising emerging market for pharma”. Indeed, the situation with healthcare in the region is now developing at such a pace (and with so many issues unresolved yet) that any attempts to use the merely commercial market entry tactics are naïve. To start doing things in LATAM, pharma has to center around people and systems in place – and this year’s eyeforpharma event has succeeded in taking several perspectives at the same time. Read how the Latin American life sciences knot is being unwound – in highlights reported by Viseven team.

Either you know something or you don’t. If you do, no inquiry is relevant; otherwise how do you know where to look for answers? This classical paradox seems to describe the state of pharma in LATAM just several years ago: a puzzle that combines regional peculiarities (medicine accessibility, etc.), but also worldwide tendencies like the burst of med tech, AI, digital communications and content.

At any rate, pharmas haven’t had the luxury of pondering whether the paradox can be solved; the industry had to act. Now is the moment to draw some very first conclusions, and (thanks to eyeforpharma) look at one of the first rounds of results.

Getting closer: accessible medicines, healthcare transformation and AI

Even a brief outline of worldwide picture is enough to see that strategy or not, one first needs to ensure that pharma products are within reach of prescription – which is not always the case. A presentation given by Ricardo Marek, President for Emerging Markets, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, showed the workings of the company’s Access to Medicines Strategy. An interesting part of the concept is the rigorous definition of focus in relation to product, area and region.

Accessibility is not a self-generated issue that can be resolved on its own, though – which connects such strategies with at least two other aspects. On the one hand, there are the healthcare systems in place, together with their inherent shortages. Global pharma is naturally perceived to possess resources that can help solve these.

How? Here’s the second connected question, namely tech.

For example, Microsoft’s Lalo Steinmann presented a view on the role of AI in this process. The use of AI capacities would supposedly help handle health data, foster precision medicine and enhance clinical trials. The sum of these developments was handily labeled as “AI democratization” – and might be one of the things to expect in the nearest future. However, there are quite a lot of directions to lead up to that moment in the meantime.

“You can’t do it alone!” Collaborations and partnerships

Is the way you draw the pharma-HCPs-patients triangle any different in Latin American realities, as compared to the other regions?

It turns out from the previous years’ experience, it is. These collaborations in LATAM are unique in that they are still being shaped with the increasing presence of newest trends. Quite illustratively, the topic of “YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE” was raised in the format of panel discussions.

One of these, involving executives from Novartis, Takeda, Astellas, and Bayer, was centered around making partnerships across multiple level long-lasting enough to provide the necessary push for the healthcare system overall to become truly patient-centric. The benefits are reciprocal for pharma and the system: the former gets data, the latter receives value.

Yet another discussion, involving Eduardo Magallanes, Senior Vice President Latin America at Bayer Pharmaceuticals, as well as Migdalia Denis, President and Founder of Sociedad Latina Hipertensión Pulmonar among others, affirmed that it is indeed possible for the industry to collaborate in healthcare at an even more involved level without sacrificing the commercial KPIs. A feasible approach to selecting and defining the frameworks for collaborations is the key.

The quest for patient insights

 A quest is now underway for patient insights, which are supposed to define the major directions of R&D (understandably, also marketing). Not that these insights are hard to get, given the possibilities of tech…

…but someone will have to provide access to and popularize the tech. And the programs that engage patients using the tech. Roslyn Schneider, Global Patient Affairs Lead of Pfizer, has presented a memorable checklist for patient engagement with do’s and don’ts, based on practical experience.

In short, global pharma is more than determined to deploy a whole range of digital patient engagement solutions, including apps and data management, for the sake of insights-based patient collaborations. The panel discussion featuring, among others, Anita Natzkova from Teva Pharmaceuticals, focused on program co-creation and thorough measurement to that end.

What pharma can undertake right now, in 3 points

So what does this all mean in terms of current action? What can be done right now? Here are the most down-to-earth propositions – ones that solve very particular goals but seem to be working well as of today.

  • 1. Inner model of action

Reforming the four major levels of the entire model is ambitious but real – and something that Novartis is already striving for, according to Andrés Graziosi, (Head Pharma Region LACan). The four aspects are as follows:

From within the organization, the role of the rep is to be reconsidered – the reps are here to stay, however, says Alejandro Arteaga from Grünenthal. Instead of rejecting rep activities, there is a set of competencies that have to be pushed through corporate training – and, notably, one shouldn’t jump into tech before establishing the human side of the process.

  • 2. Ability to listen

Speaking of reps and how HCPs perceive pharma (especially on “supportive 0-to-10” scale), there is the question of personalized messaging. This consequently brings to building a 360-degree view of the customer and using CRM capacities more extensively – a practice shared by Pfizer’s Jorge Herrera.

In this respect, IQVIA’s concept of Orchestrated Customer Engagement is quite relevant, and was discussed by the company’s Global Sales Consultant Paul Conde. Coordination is to be observed.

  • 3. Talking to HCPs, not only pushing messages

Do Latin America’s HCPs really want a dialog?

They do, affirmed Heidi Padilla of GSK. The presentation dealt with the experience of establishing as a means of communication, but also with the broader picture of multichannel engagement. The audience is clearly ready for talk – provided this is really talk, not only pushing messages.

Generally, the most practical guideline seems to be the one established during one of the panel talks: by serving as a link that helps HCPs manage patients, pharma establishes not just presence, but relevance. This, naturally, means, defining value-based propositions and endorsing them with sufficient information, tech solutions like apps, and content whenever necessary.

Multichannel excellence shouldn’t be a long-perspective endeavor. Waiting until the whole infrastructure is set up in the regional department is, of course, not affordable.

This is why, when it comes to fueling the multichannel engagement in an affiliate, a sensible approach is to make use of the preexisting digital assets, while carefully adapting them to the local needs based on insights.

This starts from basic things like translating a bulk of eDetailing presentations from, say, English, to Spanish – and may involve thorough adaptation and dialog with the stakeholders and decision-makers. To set this mechanism of interaction into motion, the affiliate needs something to start with – and then to enhance the strategy as it goes.

A success case study from Viseven Group, which our team contributed to the event exhibition, illustrated the experience of launching full-fledged multichannel content strategies in 6 LATAM countries. You can request a digital copy of the study here. Overall, the region is a challenge worth taking – and provided the company approach is correct from the start, one that can and should be taken really fast.