Read the Conversation

EF: We call 2020 the year of diagnostics and prevention, 2021 the year of vaccines, and 2022 the year of getting patients back to care. What do you expect from 2023? 

RF: 2022 saw huge highs and lows across the private and public sectors. When the pandemic first hit, there was a significant decrease in patient visits that dramatically rose again in 2022. The public sector needed to prepare for this sudden influx, which is why regularization and normalization of services happened last year. By the end of 2022, patient consultations had decelerated because many patients began settling into normal life, regular patterns of adherence and life habits. We are now looking to solidify and make these trends more stable in 2023.  

There are two options when it comes to deciding which dynamic to base our projections on: either stick with pre-Covid trends or the current trend of acceleration due to the greater demand for health care. The rise in private care is also worth noting, as more patients have switched from public care to private care. This includes seeking care from pharmacies and telehealth providers. In 2023, we will focus on consolidating these trends and normalizing our approach to health care. That’s why 2023 will be the year of stabilization. 

EF: 2021 was a turning point for Teva Mexico. How do you assess your progress, and what does 2023 have in store for Teva? 

RF: 2023 is a year of accelerated growth for our business. Over the last two years, we've doubled our market presence, becoming one of Mexico's three largest market powerhouses. Thanks to our cutting-edge products and portfolio, we can now gain entry to new business opportunities, public and private tenders and new market segments.   

We have six products lined up for release this year and have plans to reintroduce a portfolio launched by one of our alliance partners. Occasionally there are delays in the approval process that can impede our progress. However, we are working closely with COFEPRIS and the industry on improving generics approvals.  

We are growing our capabilities in R&D generics and manufacturing, improving the supply chain, and broadening our product channels for optimal patient access. We look forward to multiplying our growth and presence in the market, broadening our capabilities, bringing a broader scope of products to the market, and amplifying our product distribution. We look forward to partnering with pharmacy chains and local and independent pharmacies.  

EF: What are the advantages of having a local production footprint in Mexico, and what needs to be done to enhance the country’s production capacity further? 

RF: It is advantageous to have our manufacturing plant in the country because of the flexibility. Deliveries are faster, more time efficient, and more cost-effective than importing. COFEPRIS is currently in the process of changing the regulations regarding the registrations of certain products like generics. We hope it will be published soon. Bioequivalence will be acceptable from reference high certified countries’ authorities for regulatory approval in Mexico. There is a collaboration between COFEPRIS and other regulatory bodies in different countries and regions, which is advantageous for all stakeholders. All this combined makes us more flexible in the market, and it exponentiates our potential for growth.  

Teva API plant in Toluca mostly manufactures for  US customers and TEVA. We aim to expand our reach, giving us direct access to more APIs. Our external customers from Mexico and other places benefit from our local production. Globally, we are expanding our scope, working on an integrated strategy for our business that covers API production, research and development, commercial operations, and clinical research. 

Teva has a deep presence in Latin America and plays a major role in the market, being in leading positions in multiple nations like Chile, Peru, and Argentina. Our integrated production sites give us better access to local patients and people outside the region. The Latin American industry has grown from local production to a more comprehensive model, providing patients with better access to care. 

EF: How is Teva boosting the innovation footprint within Latin America, and how are you innovating beyond pharmaceutical production? 

RF: At Teva, there are three aspects of our company we take pride in: our portfolio, healthcare views, and customer-centricity. We come from a highly innovative sector, which was highlighted during the pandemic. Our innovative portfolio is developed in Europe, Israel, and the USA. However, our Executive Management encourages globalizing innovation. 

Teva's main goal is to strengthen our go-to-market model worldwide. We have historically taken a more traditional and conservative approach to how we promote our products. Visits to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies remain the backbone of our business. We spur innovation by connecting with partners and key stakeholders to construct novel treatment proposals for many diseases. 

In Chile, we invite external stakeholders for diversified ideas that are incubated and developed into new proposals for new products, models and solutions. We collaborated with key market stakeholders like hospitals and pharmacy chains to speed up patients’ access to medicines. This began last year, and there have already been two projects from these collaborations.   

Another example of how we are changing the traditional go-to-market model is through our collaboration with Farmalisto in Mexico, an online pharmacy store. Our online store provides access to doctors and patients in remote in both urban and remote areas of Mexico, expanding our reach. This works in favour of the traditional go-to-market model that is currently in place.  

We are improving customer engagement and reach by utilizing technology and AI. Last year, we allied with the Tech7 Institute, a renowned Israeli Institution of innovation with master’s degree students, to establish AI market segments and identify high-value pools of patients in need. . Our approach is centred on the patient, and we are constantly looking for creative ways to reach them in a  cost-efficient and valuable way.  

The pandemic stressed the importance of having a digital interface, which is why we are expanding our footprint physically and virtually. Partnerships and collaborations have taught us the significance of working together and diversifying for the patient. No matter how specialized or capable we are, no one can do it alone; working together within the Healthcare ecosystem is the way forward. 

EF: What is Teva’s approach toward AI, and what do you think can be achieved through the increased implementation of AI and Technology? 

RF: Technology evolves quickly, but adaptation can take a lot of work and time. In a regulated market, we must pace ourselves. There are many examples of how technology works in favour of all stakeholders and patients. In our current project and collaboration with the Israeli Institute, we map where most patients with a certain condition are located through data.  

In Chile, we are trying to employ AI to predict consumer consumption and product demand. This model can tell us what the customer may need, when, how many items need to be produced, and much more. Teva Europe is already leading in go-to-market technology for markets that are difficult to access. By increasing our technological innovation, we can accomplish even more. 

EF: How do you attract top talent to work for you in Mexico? 

RF: At Teva, it all begins with our vision, which is focused on providing quality products and medicines to those who need them with an understanding of the issues regarding access. Our mission is to provide relief to Mexican patients and improve the industry and Mexico. Our portfolio is also part of the proposition: we offer over 250 SKUs in Chile and 3,500 products around the world. By the end of the year, our Mexican division will have close to 45 products in its range. Our goal is to fulfil patients' needs and make TEVA Mexico more relevant globally. 

The scope of Mexico's healthcare system is large, and the coverage is decent. However, there are avenues to improve patient access. Our greatest strength is the size of our global network and the effect we can have on patient access. We are confident that we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of many patients. 

Teva’s agenda transformed in the last couple of years. Now it is more diverse and inclusive. This year we will continue our efforts on the Women in Action initiative to get more women into leadership positions and to create more growth opportunities for them. There are both personal and professional development opportunities within Teva and our employee value proposition continues to strengthen.  

EF: If you had to personally create a new start-up company in Mexico’s healthcare sector, what would you make and why? 

RF: I would concentrate on ways to facilitate easier entrance into medical care. Utilizing the most suitable device, service, and distribution can significantly impact patients’ experience within the healthcare system. For instance, Mexico might benefit from faster introduction and adoption of telemedicine.  

The current healthcare platform in Mexico is not being used to its full potential, making many individuals hesitant to approach it, regardless of whether they’re seeking care in public or private hospitals. To alter patients’ outlooks, all parties involved must work together towards a shared goal. There is much room for progress, and we can bring people closer to the medical system by granting accessibility. 

The greatest innovation in the last 15 years in Mexico in access to healthcare, from my point of view,  has been the introduction of physicians next to pharmacies, which increased patient access tremendously. We can do so much more with the technology we have today and continue to provide routes of access to medical care.  

EF: When you look back to this point of your career, what would you like to be remembered for? 

RF: I constantly consider my influence alongside my team in increasing access in Latin America. That is the legacy I strive for. Only about 30% of people in Latin America have access to suitable medical care and the treatment they need, so our aim and ambition are to extend access throughout the LATAM region. If I can make a difference, that is how I wish to be remembered. 

January 2023