Read the Conversation
EF: From your perspective and that of MSN Latin America, is 2023 a challenge or an opportunity?
RW: In 2023, post-pandemic, the market presents both opportunities and challenges. At the beginning of the year, there were concerns about a potential return of the pandemic, but thankfully, that risk has subsided, and life is returning to normal. This offers a favorable environment to resume normal activities. However, Latin America's economic landscape remains volatile, with frequent changes in governments impacting the region's economies. The major challenges for industries here are high inflation and the devaluation of local currencies, significant hurdles that each country in the region must address and find solutions for. Mexico seems well protected, but other countries are significantly affected.
EF: Last time we met, you spoke about the great potential for growth in Latin America. How is MSN evolving in the region?
RW: Last year was remarkable for us, achieving 80% growth in the region. The first six months of this year have also been fantastic, surpassing our targets with double-digit growth. However, a significant challenge we face is the delayed approval process across countries in the region. Despite this, we are making progress in various markets. In Brazil, we have two companies established, and in Mexico, we are launching several generic products, some of which will be among the first in the country. Our presence in Colombia is strong, with over 12 leading brands. Chile and Peru have also seen substantial expansion.
We are expanding our footprint in Central America and the Caribbean, opening subsidiaries in Panama and the Dominican Republic. Ecuador operations are also underway. With these new additions, we will have a physical presence in around nine Latin American countries, achieving significant growth in just six years. Our aim is to be among the top 20 generic companies in every country and establish leadership in therapeutic areas like oncology, hematology, and diabetes. We have become a trusted partner for healthcare providers, and our plan is to continue expanding and making a positive impact in the region in the years to come.
EF: Given your unique regional perspective, how do you assess the differences in regulation and access among the companies you manage?
RW: Access to healthcare is at the core of our group's philosophy, and personally, I find great motivation in providing this access. MSN offers numerous products that can significantly improve healthcare access in Latin America, not just in terms of new molecules but also by ensuring affordability. Our aim is to launch at least 20 more products in the next one or two years to further enhance access in the region.
Regarding the regulatory framework, each country has its own system, and there is a need for collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as government agencies. Fast-tracking registrations and finding common ground is essential to prevent delays that can impact healthcare systems and increase government spending. Collaboration and homologation between agencies can streamline the process, but this requires senior-level intervention from government officials. It is crucial for everyone to work together and make efforts towards achieving this goal for the benefit of the region's healthcare system.
EF: As an API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) giant, how do you assess the current status of the global API chain and the need to localize API production?
RW: API business is typical, and we are a global leader in this segment, supplying APIs worldwide. We have a strong manufacturing base in India for APIs, which requires specialized manpower and raw materials. Cost is a crucial factor in API manufacturing, and setting up plants in Latin America may increase costs due to scale challenges. Currently, there are no plans to establish API manufacturing plants in the near future, but we remain open to opportunities. APIs will remain a focused area for our company, and we will continue to grow both regionally and globally.
EF: Do you see the potential for Latin America to establish itself as an innovation hub?
RW: Certainly, Latin America offers ample opportunities for innovation, both in the medical technology and manufacturing sectors. Over the past 15 years, we have witnessed significant growth in manufacturing plants and have obtained US FDA approvals across the region. Looking ahead, there is promising potential for innovation in areas such as biosimilars, biotechnology, and vaccines, especially in the post-pandemic era. In the next five years, Latin America will see significant progress in research and innovation. Additionally, the region is likely to become more self-sufficient in terms of manufacturing capabilities.
EF: Considering your significant accomplishments, how would you like to be remembered as a leader when you look back in ten years' time?
RW: How I would like to be remembered is as a strong leader who leads by example. I firmly believe in being hands-on and involved with my team, not just as a distant boss. I make it a point to be in the field, interacting with customers, gathering feedback, and understanding areas for improvement. I hope to be remembered as someone who set benchmarks and achieved milestones while remaining connected and grounded with my team.
EF: If you were to create your own roadmap to the future, what would be the three fundamental pillars you would prioritize?
RW: My three pillars would be people, products, and places. These principles guide my decisions and leadership. People and products are solid pillars for me, and my role is to take them to different places and countries. When I work in Mexico, I embrace a Mexican mindset, and the same goes for Colombia or any other country in Latin America. Each country is unique, and we work as locals, which is a catalyst for our growth. My success mantra revolves around these three pillars, and that is how we are growing in the region.
EF: Is there anything you would have liked to discuss that we did not ask about? Or do you have any final message you would like to share with our readers?
RW: I will say that Latin America is a fascinating market with significant gaps in its healthcare system. To address these challenges, there is a need for strong collaboration between governmental agencies and public-private partnerships to ensure an adequate supply of medicines across the region. Access to healthcare plays a crucial role, and our team is motivated by creating accessible products everywhere. It is not just about business; we feel a sense of service to society. In the last six years, we have registered 600 SUs in Latin America, and my goal is to register 1,000 – that would make me truly content.