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EF: You were appointed at the beginning of the pandemic. What lessons have you learned from it, especially transitioning from the pharmaceutical sector to MedTech?
VS: Pharma and MedTech are two different areas, with completely different focuses, and I believe the ideal would be the combination of both viewpoints. Even though pharma participates in both diagnosis and treatment, when I started working at BD, I was able to see how strongly the MedTech sector allows you to participate in the patient’s journey from earlier stages. Coming from the pharmaceutical industry, I am convinced that if we manage to combine the benefits of both approaches, it will revolutionize the way we understand treatments.
EF: How did the pandemic affect the healthcare sector?
VS: COVID-19 was a point of inflexion for our industry, the difference in the sector’s reality before and after the pandemic is immense. Nowadays we see the fear of using technology has diminished, which is especially useful in diabetic patients. The future will be interesting because with the pandemic we saw a rapid increase in the use of digital platforms, and now that the industry has fully incorporated them, we expect to see this phenomenon increase even further in the years to come.
EF: What is the strategic importance of the region to the company?
VS: Looking at the combined results, we have a limitation in terms of worldwide performance, but we have two big economies, Brazil and Mexico, that normally take part in the top ten emerging countries. Brazil’s overall good performance can be decomposed into two areas; whilst non-retail identifies by low prices and higher volume; retail has high prices and lower volume. This reality comes to terms with the fact that patient profile is changing given that the exposure to information and knowledge is increasing. At the same time, we are seeing a movement toward commoditization, in the sense that patients tend to think that all medical devices are the same. This means managing prices whilst maintaining product quality is one of the biggest challenges for Latin-American countries.
EF: What relation do you see between preventive methods, education programs, and further awareness?
VS: The approach we give to diabetes is much more than a treatment, there is also a huge component of education, both for the diabetic patient and healthcare personnel. In pharmacological terms, treatment is not enough, especially because of technical daily-use issues that are a matter of education, like the correct angle to use the syringe. This is much more important given we are talking about a chronic disease that will be for sure an endemic issue in the future. It is also imperative to understand how to provide tools for nurses and caregivers so that they can really have an impact on the diabetic population.
EF: How do you rate the level of access in Brazil and how do you see the sector addressing some of the key challenges?
VS: Different types of diabetes use different devices; we see differences in the amount of resource expenditure and technology that each of them utilizes. The Brazilian market is currently trying to achieve innovation that allows for cost reduction, whilst also preserving the quality level.
EF: How do you rate the level of education for patients and professionals?
VS: The digital area is starting to be more relevant in this matter. The need for patient education varies depending on their diagnostics and the stages of their treatment; while Diabetes Type 1 presents itself in much younger patients; Type 2 appears at a higher age range. In the case of seniors, they have bigger concerns about the use of digital tools which is why caregivers and nurses can be more effective, contrary to what happens with Type 1, where technology is not only more frequent but highly facilitates treatment.
EF: What are your expectations from your global collaboration with Accelerated Diagnostics?
VS: The efficiency of a treatment increases depending on how early the disease is diagnosed. This poses one of the biggest challenges, given that a big portion of the population is undiagnosed. If we could overcome this, survival rates would increase, patients could have a better quality of life and the economic burden of treatment would decrease significantly. I believe the future will demand us to combine data from different sources so that the interaction of information allows us to detect factor combinations that enable an early-stage treatment and a specific diagnosis. In Latin America, we are used to analyzing patients individually with no strategy for cross-sector collaboration, mainly because we are missing the macro vision to optimize resources.
EF: BD will be celebrating 125 years. In that context, what would be the speech you give to your team?
VS: I would congratulate us all for maintaining leadership during the last century in a very competitive arena, and for doing this by differentiating ourselves from competitors through outstanding quality and technological innovation in our products.