Read the Conversation
EF: 2020 was the year of diagnostics, and 2021 was the year of vaccines. Looking back at 2022, what will we call this year and why?
CB: 2022 is considered the year of recovery from the pandemic. It is set to open up new avenues for the pharma and healthcare segments with increased patient footfalls for non-covid treatments, which were put on hold for the last two years. It is the year to get back the patients on reliable treatment. While this trend signals a positive environment, there will be additional pressure on the healthcare system as the treatment needs to be scaled up according to the requirements of patients and disease progression. Similarly, we are witnessing a positive trend in therapeutic areas. With that, the focus is moving toward enhancing patients’ attendance and care.
It is also the year to build healthcare for the future. As we have been able to put the pandemic behind us, this year has given us time and space to think beyond the conventional pill-oriented solutions and look at broader interventions like condition management and end-to-end disease management leveraging technology.
EF: What was your mission when you first joined, and what progress have you made towards that so far?
CB: Dr. Reddy’s has strong fundamentals. The company thrives on meeting the unmet needs of patients with innovative, accessible, and affordable drugs. I joined the company two years back and led the business in Colombia. It’s exciting to be part of a unique leadership team on a mission. Since our journey started in Colombia, we have built several milestones. Our core vision is to be a leading generics player in Colombia. One of our strategic pillars is "market leadership in chosen spaces." We aim to be leaders in the therapeutic areas that we choose. Oncology and haematology products have played a significant role in developing the healthcare system. Also, with government-led partnerships, we aim to bring out new and innovative products and solutions for our patients.
EF: What makes Colombia an attractive place for pharmaceutical companies to invest and operate in?
CB: According to the World Health Organization, Colombia holds the first position in the Latin American healthcare system and 22nd place globally. The healthcare and pharma sentiments in the country are positive and have grown multi-fold. So, it is evident that there are many opportunities, and we have a very important role to play in this country. As a company, we have witnessed a growth of >50% since our inception in 2016 in Colombia, and we are ambitious to continue to see good growth momentum in the next five years. We are thrilled to travel on the positive market dynamics. 84% of the market is prescription, and that's where we operate. The increased growth and market accessibility are some of the elements to be considered as positive for us.
However, we also witness a market gap in overall healthcare accessibility in the region. It is due to geographical barriers and the unavailability of specialists in high-complexity illness management. The good part is that 98% of the population has access to primary care with the support of the Colombian government. This is also because our constitution considers healthcare a fundamental right in connection with life, which testifies that the healthcare system holds an important place in the government agenda.
EF: Could you elaborate on your current portfolio and how you expect this to evolve to meet the needs of the Colombian people?
CB: As per the Fitch Connect report, today, generics account for 51% of the entire pharmaceutical industry, which has grown drastically compared to what it was 5-10 years ago in Colombia. In context to that, we are focusing on new therapeutic areas as Dr. Reddy's has a very strong portfolio in various therapeutic areas in India. More specifically, we are exploring how to foray into the areas of oncology, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer, with the objective of increasing our reach among our patients, thereby enabling accessibility. We also aim to get into haematology with treatments for MSD syndrome, myelodysplastic syndrome, leukaemia, and lymphoma. In many severe conditions, the option to have high quality and high-standard generics version makes much sense where we can leverage our existing capabilities.
Since all these therapeutic areas are being financed through the healthcare system sources in Colombia, we need to be conscious and provide suitable options for the healthcare system and the patients. We take pride in our expertise in offering high quality, high levels of production, and traceability and making them available in the market.
EF: Are you involved in increasing partnerships in Colombia, and what can be achieved through collaborating with different stakeholders?
CB: We have an open mindset towards innovation which may lead to potential collaboration opportunities. In that direction, we have initiated different collaborative partnerships and approaches to align our IPSs (healthcare providers) with our vision and transparency statement. We are clear on what we want to achieve through their support, ensuring the acceleration and accessibility of affordable products and solutions. We are on a continuous journey to build new value propositions to help them overcome the pain points and play a part in contributing to the healthcare ecosystem in the region. We also see that there are spaces where we can take a role where can try to help or at least build certain frameworks to enable our customers to nurture and collaborate with other stakeholders.
As you know, pharmaceutical companies have always been a critical support in continual medical education source for the healthcare system. We are a generics and biosimilars company. We believe in creating value beyond the pill. We play a role beyond our products. Therefore, we help our customers to understand care management and the role of biosimilars and generics with the support of external experts. As we move forward, we expect to keep collaborating with healthcare providers and the payors to build value propositions to cope with helping them close the gaps in patients' treatment needs. We believe we can create value beyond the products that we have.
EF: What do you think digitalization can do for healthcare and Dr. Reddy’s specifically?
CB: The digital possibilities within healthcare are endless because it can synchronize all the data that needs to track, all the interventions that need to monitor, and optimize resources and outcomes. For instance, Colombia is moving towards centralized EPR for patients’ records. During the Covid era, most healthcare system players have gotten involved in digitalization. However, we see a disparity in the maturity levels of digitalization among players. There are some players with a high level of maturity and a good integration network, system, applications, reports, and so on. Others are still in the early stages.
As a pharmaceutical leader, we aim to improve the healthcare ecosystem by incorporating digitalization into the patient experience. For that, we have adopted different mindsets because digitalization depends greatly on culture. We also plan to leverage digitalization through our subsidiary in the digital therapeutics business with an end-to-end approach for managing the illness toward wellness digitally. We have been gathering all the insights and understanding of critical points in cohort management through a process of collaboration and open innovation.
Also, at Dr. Reddy’s, we are all students. We have various L&D processes which help us to be ahead of the curve in understanding the new knowledge and the latest technologies and how to adapt them in our operations. At our sites, we are in the phase of automating the processes together in order to implement solutions such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics to understand the behaviour of our customers in-depth. Recently, our largest manufacturing facility at Bachupally in Hyderabad, India, joined the World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network (GLN). With this recognition, the facility joins the GLN, a community of over 100 manufacturers that are showing leadership in applying Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0 or 4IR) technologies to drive impact in productivity, workforce engagement, sustainability, and supply chain resilience.
EF: You are innovating differently; how can we promote local innovation in Colombia?
CB: Although we are a generics company, we still do innovation in our products. Through knowledge collaboration with our team in India, we aim to bring products to meet the unmet needs in various forms in the way of administration to figure out how to solve new pharmaceutical developments.
In that manner, we innovate and boost our local innovation legacy. We are currently focusing on our Horizon 1 and 2. Horizon 1 is about excelling in our current business model, getting it right the first time at the right cost. Horizon 2 is about helping patients manage outcomes with holistic solutions. This perhaps helps to improve proficiencies & scalability and further help us transform from being good to great.
EF: What do you have to say about the index of diversity?
CB: Dr. Reddy's has conceptualized and implemented a robust diversity and inclusion framework across its offices. Locally, we were included in the list of great places to work just last year in Colombia. We are working very hard to maintain the position and even increase and be ranked in top positions. I'm a clear example of what Dr. Reddy's considers when it comes to diversity. At Dr. Reddy’s, I am the first Colombian woman to head the country business. This perhaps indicates that the company has an open mindset in supporting, empowering women, and rewarding their talent. Supporting talented women to reach leadership positions has been continuous action at Dr. Reddy’s. We are a large team of women. Our group country head for LATAM and head of oncology and hospital is also a woman. Her name is Anupama Rao Singh.
At a regional level, we have put a lot of action in place to discuss and mentor our women colleagues, giving them all the opportunities available to achieve career growth and reach leadership positions in the organization. Respect for the individual is one of our core values. This is an essential element that makes us stand out. Also, as part of its ESG goals, the company has committed to at least 35% women in senior leadership by 2030 and gender parity by 2035. Colombia is already ahead in this.
Our D&I metrics in the emerging markets currently stand at 70% of the overall employee base is women and 41% at the senior leadership level.
EF: What was it that very much attracted you to Dr. Reddy's?
CB: I’m happy that I work for an organization with strong science, progressive people practices, and robust corporate governance.
As you see, Dr. Reddy’s has been at the forefront of innovation with our deep science capabilities. We were among the earliest in India to export APIs at scale and to bring several new molecules to the country. We were the first in India to initiate novel drug discovery in the 1990s and to receive 180-day exclusivity from the USFDA in the 2000s. We focus on being first to market. This helps us deliver our promises to patients, partners, and stakeholders. We were the first Asian pharma company outside Japan to list on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001. Our largest manufacturing facility in Hyderabad was recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Global Lighthouse facility – leading the way in Fourth Industrial Revolution. And this bears testimony to our aspiration of being the most efficient pharma company in the world. We are committed to the highest standards of compliance, ethics, and quality in every activity we undertake. Our stakeholders consistently recognize us for our governance.
We are on a mission to accomplish our horizon 1 and 2 goals, and I am certain that it will be very exciting for all of us.
EF: What advice do you have for next-generation women leaders intending to follow in your footsteps?
CB: It makes me recall my conversation with my manager Anupama Rao Singh. Once she said, if you are the only woman in a session or a room, make sure that your voice is heard and that what you express or deliver resonates with the audience and their sentiments.
My advice to young women leaders is to prepare for newer opportunities. Don’t shy away from challenges, and keep believing in yourself. More importantly, it is good to come out of your comfort zone to learn, relearn, explore and innovate. My thinking aligns with our vision of accelerating access through continuous experimentation and innovation, as we believe Good Health Can’t Wait.