Presentation on the pharmaceutical industry in Latin America

  • Constance Malleret

On 5th July, Canning House held an event looking at the pharmaceutical industry in Latin America, based on the latest Canning Paper. Canning Papers are bi-monthly reports commissioned by Canning House, each focusing on a key industry sector or emerging trend in Latin America. Estimated at US$62.824 billion in 2016, the pharmaceutical market in Latin America is a growing one, nonetheless facing a number of challenges.

To discuss the topic, we were delighted to welcome Andrew Thompson of LatinNews, journalist and author of the paper; Miriam Palacios Callender, a Cuban-born pharmaceutical scientist; and Chiara Cochetti, Key Account Manager covering Latin America at IQVIA. Ken Shadlen, professor of development studies at LSE, chaired the event.

Cristina Cortes, CEO of Canning House, welcomed the audience and speakers. Ken Shadlen, who has extensively researched pharmaceutical patenting in Latin America, then introduced the panellists.

Andrew Thompson first drew out some of the key points of the report, namely some of the trends that explain the increase in demand for medicine in Latin America: these include the growth of the middle classes, an ageing population, and an increase in diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. He also touched upon the debate that surrounds pricing and patenting in the region, where the market is very much generics-based.

Miriam Palacios Callender then gave a bit of context behind the case of Cuba, a paradox in that it provides an example where nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry has worked. The government's investment in education and healthcare can help explain the success of the industry in Cuba, which has developed and progressed based on the needs of the country. Although the Cuban industry is only just beginning to attract international interest, it is an area that is ripe for foreign investment.

Chiara Cochetti highlighted again the underlying trends in the pharma industry in Latin America, namely the increase of westernised diseases in the region. The question of access to increased numbers of drugs for governments, as healthcare treatment is extended to rural areas and poorer parts of the population, is an important one. An interesting trend to watch is that of domestic development partnerships, where multinationals inject capital for the development of drugs by local companies, which then share the royalties.

Ken Shadlen then moderated questions from the audience, which included questions relating to pharmatech and digital health, and further comments on the pricing debate.

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