Read the Conversation

EF:  After working in companies which are very specialized why did you decide to join Ipsen in 2019?

MG: Before I joined Ipsen, I did work in very specialized companies but the important thing for me was Ipsen’s culture which promotes a certain mindset: fail fast or succeed fast, but most importantly adapt quickly. The culture promotes creativity to the extent that we don’t punish bad results; we encourage work for new innovations and need creative people with new ideas with the environment to develop them.

EF: It sounds almost like a tech company?

MG: Yes, the way it works is that there are people in the company that are very experienced and others that are very young and want to be creative but if they work in a big pharma company, their options are usually limited whereas we are not biased on the experience of age and for this reason, we lead in our field.

EF: What is Ipsen Mexico’s strategic importance to Ipsen Global?

MG: We are not really representative because we have 1% of the total global sales but this is where the most important challenge lies because based on the size of the Mexican population, our affiliate can grow a lot. We have to transform the organization from a people’s point of view, with goals to develop and attract the best team for the organization. Based on the development of treatments, the level of access in Mexico, in general, is very low and in our speciality areas even lower. Access is also a challenge. Because Mexico is a very fragmented market in healthcare, to get access we have to go step by step and as a company, we must to allow patients to receive our treatments bringing the right proposal to the government and the payers for patients can have access to the treatments. 

EF: Being a speciality care company, how would you define access?

MG: We must bring products that have a very real value to our payers who have a limited budget and very real needs. We have to understand the patients and link this with an economic proposal that can be attractive for them. Our work is mainly engaging the physicians with the product, working with payers in terms of economic proposals based on product efficacy and a cost-effective proposal, as well as offering products on diseases that have not been treated in the past.

EF: How do you propose to increase the low access especially for specialized diseases? 

MG: One must first create disease awareness; there already exists good knowledge on some diseases but in the case of rare diseases, there is very little awareness and knowledge so we have to create awareness on how to diagnose the disease. We understand the scientific process which must be done in the hospitals and this medical education must be passed on to the physicians so they are aware of the options. A good mix of efficacy and service must be reached and an understanding that the products are important for both private and public sectors, counteracting the disease through the treatment.

EF: What was the mission you were given when appointed and where are we today?

 MG: The given mission and general objective was the transformation of the speciality care team and secondly, the launching of new products. At the moment, we have three fully commercialized products and more in the pipeline. We aim to launch new products, elevate the level of treatment, reach more patients with rare diseases and create access for those patients. In terms of the organization, Mexico is a great place to work. We got a distinguished recognition from City Pharma for ethical practices with an interest in the planet and the environment where we have a few initiatives. Since a few months ago we have a hybrid electric fleet, we don’t have flowers or garbage cans, we have planted trees, we have eco-friendly meetings at a global level which means we evaluate the total count footprint, food has to be produced locally, the cars must be electric and we have some alliances with some organizations to plant trees we have already planted trees in the forest in France and we have given funding for the Australian bush fires. 

EF: What is the perception of Ipsen in the pharma market, what do you do to attract the right talent?

MG: The actual recognition of Ipsen is based on the products we commercialize and as regards talent we attract talent understanding that big pharma and biotech companies look for very driven people who want to lead in the organization but maybe are in an organization where they don’t have that chance but which we are prepared to give them. We encourage people to take more responsibility whereas pharma employees work in very specialized roles and generally don’t have access to other areas, we look for a startup kind of mentality.

EF: What is your distribution in terms of public and private?

MG: We have 95% public which is a challenge as we are dependent on public sector budgets and the environment is changing which means it’s a moment of opportunity, of bringing new ideas as we see more openness to our proposals. Another positive point is that most of my leadership management team is made up of local talent, people with experience and knowledge of the market. 

EF: What do you look for when entering a partnership?

MG: One of our most important partnerships is with INGRAM Derma as we have a toxic 14:10 which we commercialize in the therapeutic market for specialized diseases and for the aesthetic market -for plastic surgeons- as INGRAM Derma has a portfolio which covers that area and we have partnered with them because they are very experienced in derma. MAYOLY is very experienced in consumer products in gastroenteritis and our portfolio is in specialized care they are a very good partner for us to have. 

EF: Ipsen positions itself as a key leader in innovation. How does this manifest itself in the Mexican landscape both externally and internally? 

MG: We have different therapeutic areas and the most important are neurology, oncology and rare diseases. In the case of oncology, we have a product with a long history and we are bringing a new product for renal cancer which has just recently been approved. We are innovating in rare diseases in terms of how the patients are diagnosed; we have new devices and apps that help physicians to diagnose. We also have support for the patients during the treatment.

EF: Ipsen spends almost 15% of its revenue on research development; could you elaborate on your clinical research footprint in Mexico?

MG: We have different clinical studies running in Mexico for oncology and neuroscience and this is important because not a lot of companies are willing to invest in Mexico. This reflects Ipsen´s recognition of the importance of the Mexican market. 

EF: What are Ipsen´s ambitions in Mexico? 

MG: Most importantly, from a people aspect, we aspire to have the best speciality care team. It is scientifically oriented and very driven; they know the process of the hospitals and are accountable, they understand the patients' journey from end to end (diagnosis through treatment). This is not a simple process as we have to work to engage the physician, which doesn’t mean the simple promotion of a pharma product as we manage things differently. Secondly, based on the size of the population (125 million), we must be more representative. Ever since I have worked in the pharma industry healthcare in Mexico, there has been under-representation. The Mexican healthcare level of investment for both public and private is 5.5% of the total investment of the GP when OECD talks of a 9%. Nevertheless, in terms of innovation, we have a lot of opportunities to bring products, give access, and commercialize them and this includes working with the government to bring innovative models which can be linked with the patient outcomes and the amount of the money they pay. In some cases, we have to be more flexible. For example, if the patients' goals are not achieved, the payer does not have to pay for the product but if on the other hand we achieve really good results, we then link the patient with that product or to a more efficient one (outcome-based revenue model). This is our way of creating access, bringing new proposals to the table, and launching new products.  

EF: You are one of the new waves of GMs coming into Mexico and your decisions will affect National Healthcare so, what kind of impact would you like to make?

MG: There are different stakeholders in the industry and at Ipsen, we fully understand we have to work with payers, the providers of the services, the physicians, and the patients' associations. We must engage everybody because if we don’t, some patients will not be diagnosed, nor will they be treated and they won’t have the best options so it is our responsibility to make this work. 

EF: The pharma industry is historically very good managing their triple bottom line (people, planet, and profit). What advice would you give other GMs in Mexico on managing a triple bottom line? 

MG: The three Ps are very important because if we don’t care about the people, things won’t happen by themselves. The industry has the responsibility of bringing awareness, options to treatment, and access but we are also a company and as such, we need a return to continue reinvesting in healthcare. We are also concerned about the environment and sustainability focusing on the long term.

EF: Any final message to share?

MG: In the healthcare sector we have a lot of opportunities in terms of innovation and I think the world has to think technologically. With all the digital innovation, devices, and innovative models coming up, the world is moving on and we have the responsibility to bring innovation and change to the Mexican healthcare sector. 

March 2020