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EF: You have worked for an impressive array of local Mexican companies in your career. What attracted you to work at the Indian Pharmaceutical company Emcure?

JM: India is central to the pharmaceutical industry; around half of the drugs manufactured worldwide come from India. From a professional standpoint, I was interested in being involved in a large pharmaceutical company. The pharmaceutical industry is very well established in Mexico, and the top ten companies from India are also here in Mexico. When I began at Emcure, I had been in contact with Indian companies for several years while working on licensing and API projects for Mexican companies. I was in contact with this company, and Emcure had a unique perspective to establish itself here. If you consider most Indian companies based here in Mexico, they have Indian nationals as their directors. These large companies have subsidiaries in Mexico, but Indian professionals also manage these subsidiary companies. I became interested in the project when they contacted me and said they wanted to begin operations in Mexico and considered me the best person for that job. I was interested as a Mexican professional because that differs from the strategy these companies usually use when choosing their leadership. That was the first aspect that piqued my interest in getting involved.  

The second component was that Emcure is a very fast-growing company in India. There are around 2,500 GMP pharmaceutical companies in India, and Emcure is in the top 12. To be in the top 12 in such a competitive industry is an important metric and another factor that interested me in the project. There is a need to contextualize or tropicalize the way of doing business at the local headquarters. People think these emerging markets are less regulated than the reference markets, but that is not the case. Regarding regulatory bodies, getting market authorization here in Latin America is sometimes more difficult. Companies need to tropicalize their way of registering projects and doing business to succeed in a market with burdensome regulations and requirements.  

EF: Do you see 2023 as a challenge or as an opportunity?

JM: It is both. On the opportunity side, if you have well-developed projects, you can do well. On the other side, there are regulatory authorities that need to improve their response to the industry. That is one fact that we need to face, and we need to be more creative and get more support from these bodies to facilitate these regulatory processes. Last week, Colombian, Mexican, and Brazilian authorities met in Bogota to discuss regulatory frameworks and collaborations to homogenize the requirements. If that succeeds, it will be very positive to enable Mexican manufacturers to get quality products and reduce harsh regulatory culture.  

The opportunity is equal to the challenges. There is room for improvement in Mexico over the next couple of years, but the market is growing, and there will be more opportunities there. Things will move forward if the regulatory aspect is solved, and we can homogenize as an industry and get the recognition we seek. Getting approval for a very well-developed product takes at least 24 months. The number of processes that are delayed by this timeline is incredible. That is one thing that we need to work together on as an industry.  

EF: Could you elaborate on your footprint and your portfolio in Mexico? What innovative treatments are you bringing from India, and how are you adapting to the market?

JM: We started the registration process of Emcure Mexico over a year ago, so we expect to have multiple authorizations granted very soon. We have excellent generic products, but our primary focus is on precise therapies of oncology injectables and bone marrow transplants, which is an area where it is difficult for patients to get well-priced products. We also focus on a mRNA platform for vaccines and elements of vaccines and biotech. We have a company called Genova in India, which is part of our biotech arm of Emcure, and we are focusing on bringing innovative therapies and products to this market.  

EF: How would you assess healthcare access in Mexico compared to other Latin American countries?

JM: For big markets such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia, the access is similar. In each of these countries, companies must focus on the KOLs and QLs of the therapy they are proposing and on the regulatory limits. In Mexico, the government is the primary client for many drugs. Previously, we have faced issues of corruption, but more recently, the government has recognized some good companies in the Indian market, and they have begun to open the door for such products.  

Patients want to get quality products at affordable prices. The Indian industry has very affordable prices for complex molecules, so access can be faster and easier because there are good products at reasonable prices. It is no secret that everyone was focused on COVID during the pandemic, and other drugs, like oncological drugs, fell by the wayside. Various products are available, and we must be in communication with the doctor and with the patients, and of course with the government as well, to push to ensure that these drugs reach the patients who need them. That helps the registration process to be more efficient, allowing the drugs to be accessible to the market.  

EF: A large part of Emcure’s strategy on a global scale is partnering with local and multinational companies to establish market entry. To what extent do you collaborate with these companies, and how is this accelerating your regional growth and presence?

JM: We don’t have one exclusive strategy to go to market. We are very open; if we realize that business can be done business-to-customer, then we go business-to-customer, and there is no problem. If we know that we can commercialize our products through our subsidiary, we do that. If we realize that through our subsidiary, we can distribute with another big distributor and have different partners in different states, then we are willing to do that. That is one of the advantages that this company has. We are very open and willing to work with different types of businesses. A good partnership requires a product necessary for the market and an appropriate partner. Mexican companies are the first choice for this because you can have direct contact; you can find people who are interested in business at the local level and who want to improve healthcare for patients.  

On the other side, you have opportunities for generic products that the Mexican manufacturers have, but there is space to go directly to the market. You can find excellent partners locally all over Latin America. In Brazil, we have business with a large local manufacturer. In the Dominican Republic, we have distribution and a business model with one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the Dominican Republic. You can find companies in Latin America where you can establish relationships ranging from licensing, tech transfer, distribution, and pre-distribution. You can find suitable partners for every step in the process. These partnerships are essential for market entry. There are local Mexican companies that have over 75 years of experience. They have a long history, are well-managed, and do well in the market. We have to consider what model is best for the product and what model is best for the patient. That is the one thing that we must hold at the center. The product is essential, and I might find a suitable partner, but if it doesn’t increase access for the patient, then it is not the correct path. The patients are the ones who are the most important and the reason for our work.

EF: How has the market evolved over the past ten years?

JM: Things now in Mexico are different than they were ten years ago. Ten years ago, to bid on tenders, first, you had to be a local company, and if you were not local, you must come from a country with a trade agreement with Mexico. Those were the requirements. But now we have an open market model. If you had asked me ten years ago what the outlook was, I would have told you it would be difficult to come in as an Indian company. Now that the market has opened, there are benefits to the country. Every country has good and bad products, but opening up the market can only increase competition and allow space for international products to benefit the country.  

EF: Looking toward the future, what are your three key pillars?  

JM: Quality would be the first pillar. If you produce a good-quality product with proven patient benefits, there is a future. There needs to be a solid product and documentation, so quality is the first pillar.  

The second would be the development of new products. If you want to survive in the future, having the best generic product on the market is not good enough. You need strong development of new products that match the demonstrated need.  

The third would be a good understanding and knowledge of your location. It is necessary to tropicalize products and operations. Focusing on local knowledge of the territory and the challenges and opportunities presented in a particular region is vital.  

The patients have to be part of all three pillars. If you have good products and good knowledge of the market, the patient benefits.  

August 2023