At the end of November, I will be attending the BioPharma LatAm Convention 2016 in Mexico City, where I will have the opportunity to participate as a chair person, and also as a moderator in the session “How does the access and reimbursement environment to medicines vary between the different Latin American countries and therapeutic areas?”. As you can imagine, I am quite excited with this event (and not only because this will be my first time in Mexico) – the opportunity to attend the multiple sessions and discuss key topics in the region directly with government representatives and local and international manufacturers is incredible, and it will surely provide new perspectives about the different markets.

But what makes Latin American pharmaceutical markets so appealing? Most of the countries are currently experiencing significant changes in their economic, social and epidemiological profiles – acquisition power increases, population gets older, eating and exercising habits change. As a result of those changes expenditure in medicines is increasing – in 2015, three of the top 20 major markets in pharmaceutical sales were Latin American countries. However, and despite willingness to offer treatments to their population and embrace the most innovative medicines, payers frequently face economic hurdles, which result in a limited access to treatments across multiple indications. Our internal data from several select reports in our Access & Reimbursement portfolio  reflects that limitation:

Table 1. Percentage of patients who are eligible for treatment but do not receive it primarily because of cost, budgetary, or reimbursement/coverage reasons.

Even with these barriers, patients are able, to a certain (often limited) extent, to access those treatments. In the different countries, alternative routes such as judicial actions, internal protocols or out-of-pocket payments are frequently used by patients. However, even though those routes increase access, they do not fully eliminate access roadblocks. Many payers already have in place, or are considering, cost-containment measures such as reference pricing and HTA. Hence, it becomes critical for manufacturers to understand the singularities of each market, in order to adopt the most adequate strategies to optimize their products’ uptake – each country is a country, and one approach does not fit them all. An effective approach may be the difference between coverage/reimbursement or little to no uptake of a drug.

Several topics will be covered in the conference, such as market access strategies, biosimilars, and drugs for rare diseases. Each session will present a unique opportunity to identify those barriers and design strategies to collaborate with payers and increase access to treatments. Join me in Mexico for this conference, stop by, and say hello. Or follow me on twitter (@NunoAntunesDRG), as I will be live tweeting from the event. And as they say in Mexico: ¡Hasta pronto!