Read the Conversation
EF: What are your priorities as a company now?
AH: Our primary focus is to consistently provide affordable, high-quality medicine to the South African public. We strategically specialize in oncology medicine, critical care, and biosimilars for primary care and oncology. Currently, our top priority is establishing ourselves as a leading player in the South African market. Accord Healthcare is a rapidly growing healthcare company, with strong public partnerships globally. We are committed to upholding this reputation by introducing essential pharmaceuticals across all sectors of our business to the South African market.
EF: What opportunities do you see in the market, and what strategies can be put into play, understanding that South Africa is a difficult market to penetrate and reach the areas with the most need?
AH: Opinions vary depending on the individuals you consult. Large multinational corporations, for instance, prioritize acquiring new chemical entities and high-cost drugs, aiming to make them available to a limited private sector, which poses challenges as only about 16% of the population can access it. However, opportunities exist for genericized molecules, albeit with increasing complexity in terms of access and reimbursement. Balancing product availability and affordability is crucial, particularly in therapeutic areas, including common communicable diseases prevalent in Africa and South Africa. Moreover, expanding access to affordable medicines for the 80-85% of the population that currently is unable to afford them presents a significant opportunity in the South African sector.
As pharmaceutical companies, we should aim to stand together as one pharmaceutical group, regardless of whether we are innovators or generics and need to have a unified strategy to achieve the best possible outcomes for patient care in South Africa. Accord is well-positioned to work with the government to achieve this goal. We are committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that patients in South Africa have access to the medicines they need.
EF: What attracted you to working with Accord Healthcare as a generic company?
AH: Accord Healthcare stands out as a company with a robust vertical integration model. As a subsidiary of INTAS Pharmaceuticals, we benefit from their advanced global manufacturing capabilities encompassing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), oral solid dose (OSD), injectables, biosimilars, and plasma products. Our 16 manufacturing facilities include eleven in India, along with locations in the UK, Mexico, and Greece, where we pioneered genericized oncology medications. Guided by our "Make It Better" philosophy, we are committed to driving operational excellence and realizing our ambitions.
In the dynamic landscape of South Africa's healthcare system, staying ahead requires a dual focus. While my passion lies in oncology and specialty pharmaceuticals, it is vital to recognize the importance of being first to market and achieving reimbursement to ensure sustainability as a company. However, this approach only caters to a small fraction of the population. In the model we are following in South Africa with NHI coming up, the most significant potential and greatest offering that pharma can give is a genericized offering. Introducing the first immune-oncology medicine is a challenging journey and demanding years of dedicated work. While progress has been made, we are aware that the model covers only a reduced segment of the population.
EF: How can we talk about innovation from the perspective of generic companies?
AH: Leveraging technology is key to enhancing innovation and making it accessible to more people in South Africa. Electronic platforms, readily available through cell phones owned by most individuals in the country, can be utilized to share information about disease awareness. Additionally, healthcare providers can actively engage with communities in rural areas, ensuring that even those who cannot read or write can access important information through physical visits. This approach addresses the challenges faced by many South Africans who must travel long distances and endure difficult conditions to reach their local clinics, often waiting in lengthy queues for treatment.
Accord, as part of a vertically integrated group, is uniquely positioned to offer cost-effective solutions to patients in need of high-cost medicines. Our robust strategy aligns with our vision for the company and is supported by the therapeutic pillars previously mentioned. Attracting talent to Accord is driven by our passion, our dedicated workforce, and the meaningful purpose we serve.
EF: What is the importance of your operations in South Africa to the group?
AH: South Africa is essential. As a geographic setup, we are forming a part of the emerging market group under the India Headquarters. From a contribution perspective, we are the third largest affiliate in the Emerging Markets. We have a high number of product filings and registrations. We play a critical part from a growth and therapeutic introduction perspective within emerging markets. We have a strong set-up and equally important for Accord Emerging Markets and INTAS as a whole.
EF: What would be your final message, and how would you like to be remembered?
AH: South Africa's pharmaceutical growth rate is currently stagnant, and if we continue with the same approach, it is unlikely to change. To avoid this, the healthcare sector must embrace a transformative mindset and work towards a unified future for all.
People remember how you made them feel, and that is the legacy I aspire to leave behind. My priority has always been prioritizing patients and employees, fostering an environment of equality and fairness for everyone, even during challenging times.