Read the Conversation

EF: What are your priorities and agenda for 2023?

PG: Amidst the tumultuous years of the COVID-19 pandemic, our company remained steadfast in pursuing its predetermined goals. Our CEO and board established five pillars for the company, and we have since diligently tracked our progress.  

Despite the boost in revenue from COVID-related products, our company remains committed to developing a diversified portfolio, including solutions for syndromic diseases and tuberculosis. Our growth without COVID-related revenue has been impressive, even outpacing global numbers. This success indicates that we are on the right track for the future of diagnostics and medicine in Brazil. 

The importance of molecular diagnostics has become more apparent than ever before. With the global proliferation of PCR tests, the average person has become well-versed in their use. Before the pandemic, this level of familiarity was less widespread, especially among patients and other end users. Therefore, we must continue identifying opportunities in molecular diagnostics, given its critical role in cost mitigation, early detection, and improved patient outcomes. Collaboration with various pharmaceutical companies is essential in this regard, and we are proud to be a global partner of choice for such endeavors. 

Of particular importance is the focus on oncology, which has garnered significant attention in recent years. We are committed to developing tools for earlier/easier diagnosis for each patient, as we recognize that personalized medicine is the key to unlocking optimal patient outcomes. Pharmaceutical companies are now testing groups of individuals with specific DNA and genomes to develop drugs tailored to their unique characteristics.

One of the main pillars of our company is the significant market potential for syndromic testing. Our solution, QIAstat-Dx, is a small bench test that can detect 22 pathogens within an hour, including viruses and bacteria. This $1.3 billion market is rapidly growing, and our QIAstat-Dx solution has been successful in Latin America and Brazil. The pandemic caused an explosion in demand for QIAstat-Dx, allowing hospitals to diagnose patients quickly and accurately with respiratory diseases, including COVID-19, in just one hour. By identifying the predominant illness, doctors can prioritize treatment and avoid costly and time-consuming wrong treatments. Our syndromic testing solution is an excellent example of how we can help our customers and partners reduce the total cost of treatment while improving patient outcomes. 

We are proud of having been part on the construction of a dossier that contributed to the Brazilian regulatory agencies to make latent tuberculosis tests available for the population both in private and public sectors.   

Tuberculosis is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases globally, with one in four people carrying the disease in a latent form. We have identified high-risk groups and are working with the Ministry of Health to expand our program to reach more patients. This collaboration presents a unique opportunity to work towards eradicating this disease in our country. Despite the challenges of vast and varied geography, efforts are being made to expand tuberculosis testing to all regions of the country. The focus is currently on training personnel to conduct the tests and exploring the possibility of cheaper and easier tests and potential local production. While no agreements have been finalized, discussions with QIAGEN Global and Brazilian institutions have been promising. 

Moreover, digital PCR is gaining momentum and is expected to replace traditional Q-PCR. Although the technology has been around for a decade, it was previously difficult to use and limited in its applications. Recent advancements have the potential to revolutionize research and diagnostics. Our life science team is recognized in Latin America for their brilliant work in digital PCR.  

EF: What is QIAGEN’s strategy to foster innovation in Latin America and contribute value to Brazil?

PG: Brazil's diverse population presents a unique opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to research and develop new treatments. A group of researchers is working on a project to map 200.000 genomes in Brazil, to create a data center to exchange information between pharmaceutical companies and start treatments for Brazilians and exportation. QIAGEN's sample-to-insight brand is involved in the project, offering solutions for the extraction and analysis of DNA. This initiative is at the forefront of global research and has the potential to support studies for a range of diseases, including oncology, cardio, and viral infections. Additionally, QIAGEN is collaborating with public hospitals in Sao Paulo to test new products and solutions. The data gathered from this project can provide invaluable insights for creating new medicines, making Brazil a key player in medical research. 

In Brazil, research projects are making significant strides in collecting and analyzing genetic data from a diverse population. These initiatives aim to provide free annual health check-ups to the participants and contribute to new treatments for various diseases. Brazilian citizens willingly participate in these projects as they recognize the benefits. QIAGEN, a leader in digital PCR technology, is a crucial partner for researchers and pharmaceutical companies. With the region's growing importance in the healthcare industry, QIAGEN’s investment in the Latin American market is promising. Additionally, the syndromic test significantly contributes to the field, and the company's continued growth and resource allocation to the region is a testament to its potential. 

In recent years, our team has invested significantly in social media outreach across Brazil and Latin America, tailoring our communication approach to the local audience and language. We have developed numerous strategies to democratize information about molecular treatments and diagnostics, ensuring accessibility to diverse groups of customers and the general population. We have collaborated with popular YouTubers to educate the general population about molecular biology, resulting in immense success on the platform. By showcasing how test projects operate and informing on their generally low risk, we create trust and encourage greater participation in the future. Moreover, these initiatives can potentially attract younger generations to the field of science and keep important conversations at the forefront. 

In Brazil, the pharmaceutical industry primarily focuses on production rather than developing new treatments or drugs, leaving the country dependent on imports from the US and Europe. However, there is immense potential to develop treatments locally. Despite the country's great innovation, the health industry must work together to rebuild value chains and re-establish their importance. Doing so can attract more investment and push in the right direction.  

EF: What strategies are required to build a sustainable business in Brazil?

PG:  Build a relationship with Minister of Health. Brazil offers a substantial market with a population of roughly 200 million, presenting ample opportunities for local trade and exports to other Latin American countries. Alignment between private and public sectors and clear regulations are critical for creating a conducive environment for further growth and expansion.  

We are committed to continuing our growth in specialties such as syndromic testing while also seeking to streamline regulatory processes in Brazil. A well-established framework is essential for unlocking the full potential of Brazil's market. 

EF: What advice would you give future executives seeking to invest in the region? 

PG: Despite shifting government policies, the region's 900 million inhabitants require essential goods and services such as education, food, transportation, and healthcare, creating a sizable market. Across the region's 23 countries, adaptability is key to capitalizing on opportunities and avoiding obstacles.  

Rather than focusing on setbacks, having a passion for the work, investing in teams, and cultivating a strong, collaborative spirit can pave the way for success, particularly in the healthcare industry. QIAGEN has been named the best workplace for three consecutive years, attracting new candidates. Our group is fully committed to our mission to provide Sample to Insight solutions so that our customers can advance research and improve patient outcomes. We recognize that this is more than just a job; it is a calling. Ultimately, success in any market or industry requires a strong, cohesive team that can stay ahead of trends and developments.  

May 2023