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EF: What would be your message to world leaders regarding health priorities at Davos 2022?
FC: First, we've learnt the importance of prioritizing health as a result of the pandemic. It's no longer a futile topic, and therefore serves on the high table as other health agendas. With an increasing life expectancy of 82, 83 years in Mexico, there is a need to be vigilant and attentive to the possibility of an inverted population pyramid, meaning more than 70% of the budget will be allocated to non-communicable diseases, spelling disaster in the healthcare sector. We need to have public-private partnerships, and be more creative, and more inventive in the ways that are transparent to address these health challenges since nonpublic healthcare systems can't deal with these by themselves.
EF: 2020 was the year of diagnosis, 2021 vaccines, what do you think 2022 will be the year of?
FC: It should be a shift to a preventive approach. Owing to existing health challenges, i. e. diabetic patients, and uncontrolled cardiovascular patients, I think we're still short in identifying and preventing such diseases. We are working on partnering and getting into remote areas, making sure no one of any walk of life is left behind in the essentially primary care prevention.
EF: What advice would you give regarding the prevention of non-communicable diseases in future?
FC: More than 70% of the public health budget in Mexico and the globe at large will be addressed to attending to non-communicable diseases, thus calling for the need to address the same. For the first time in history, can cure genetic diseases like Diabetes through gene therapy, therefore, there's a huge chance and opportunity to evade death by observing preventive healthcare. In order for this to happen, we need to have a preventive model and a model that addresses the original needs that we already have in the field right now.
EF: What is Mexico's contribution to the portfolio performance of Novartis?
FC: We've been growing at an average of 5-6% over the last year to be in the top 20 markets. Oncology grew double digits around 25%, 22% for our generics and biosimilars division and innovative medicines pharma grew around 10%. The business has been booming despite being in a difficult year. We are a top 1 market globally, contributing $26-$30 billion to our global turnover. Mexico leads in public-private partnerships all over Latin America, helping address the most pressing health economy challenges, with an end goal of uplifting the well-being of people, levels of productivity and competitiveness. Mexico lays a footprint of 800 employees out of 1800, who provide high-added value services and operations from Argentina all the way to Canada, including the US, our largest market.
EF: Could you elaborate on the clinical trials and trends observed in Mexico today?
FC: Mexico has a great environment to become a clinical trials hub for the region. Mexican Institute of Social Security covers over 60 million people, the largest payer in the Latin American region, you patients, scientists, and healthcare professionals there in the system who are eager to participate in clinical trials. With companies like Novartis investing $50 million for clinical trials, we're advocating to transform the ecosystem and landscape in Mexico by improving the regulatory environment for clinical trials. We will do 60-70 clinical trials as stipulated in the MOU we had, compared to last year’s 50 due to the pandemic. Having set the pace, we're inviting other companies to feel enthusiastic and pounce on the idea of partnering with us and the government to bring more investments that we allocate globally for clinical trials.
EF: What’s your pitch to headquarters to attract these investments in Mexico?
FC: We have different colours of challenges that need solutions. We are talking about our social commitment, a big part of the MOU, to neglected diseases and neglected populations in Southeast Mexico, who suffer from 99% of underdiagnosed Chagas, a cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death. We are also utilizing the digital transformations enrolling globally by leveraging our digital medicines capabilities and partnering with the ministry of economy and one of the largest public institutions to counter this challenge.
EF: Do you think the ministry of health or economy knows the impact on health in future?
FC: One of the attributes of the pandemic is that we need to talk about how a health crisis resulted in an economic crisis. The correlation between health and economies is huge. In connecting health with the economy, we should be talking about the health economy. It was an aha moment for the ministry and they're fully onboard, a road map for others to join the conversation and collaborate together from our different perspectives to form different and innovative approaches to tackle health issues.
EF: In terms of portfolio performance, what do you attribute this growth to?
FC: We had a great performance in two of our core brands in pharma, one in oncology for breast cancer, and generics and biosimilars did great. Our main focus this year is to build on the performance of the private channel while focusing more on the public channel.
EF: What’s the skill set needed for a new employee?
FC: Flexibility, people who understand complexity, able to adapt easily to external and internal contexts. New collaboration models are being used internally between companies to flourish, so we need resilient team players. Challenges eventually create opportunities, so we need people to feel comfortable with ambiguity and have the drive and passion and purpose to give themselves permission to fail and learn, and be servant leaders with great leadership styles. Curiosity is a virtue that we observe too since we reward failure to those willing to learn and move on. People who move away from frustration to excitement, great, resilient, curious and compassionate teams that help each other, and diverse teams do so much better.
EF: What's at the core of priority listings in making decisions today that will impact 10 years down the line?
FC: Firstly, it's understanding you don't have all the answers. It's all about the ability to have the best talent that feels recognized and rewarded and challenged. Another one is sharing and co-creating a vision with your team. Novartis wants to be the most valuable medicines company in the world by 2030. This can only be attributed to being the number one company in the market in Mexico, a talent hub, a great place to work and a diverse environment powered by digital data. We have grown tremendously over the pandemic, learning that digital has taken centre stage, therefore our telemedicine platforms will be the basis for the future in providing doctors with great content through our digital platforms. We're a company that can look beyond the business and is able to collaborate and co-create with others in tackling those health challenges.