Social and economic impact
PROBIOMED's production line is a complicated network of elements, including the Mexican health system's priorities, economic and social impact, proven efficiency of reference drugs, and production complexity. The company is able to provide higher added value to society while reducing its competition, since PROBIOMED's products require highly specialized processes.
Offering biosimilar products at affordable prices translates into enabling health agencies to provide affordable treatment to a larger number of patients. For example, erythropoietin (used for treatment of anemia caused by CKD and chemotherapy patients) had a valid patent until 2001. Then, the Mexican health systems could only provide treatment for 3,500 patients due to the drug's high costs, but once biosimilar products became available, its price was reduced by 90 percent between 2001 and 2007. This increased treatment availability to 80,000 patients, and saved the healthcare system a total of $398.3 million.
"The social and economical impact from biosimilars is very strong. Being able to improve our health systems and patients' budgets has earned us a strong reputation as one of Mexico's most added-value manufacturing companies," Sanchez said.
R&D and biotechnician training
The company has partnered with multiple organizations not only to train biotechnicians, but also to propel biotech development within the country, since prior to these efforts, the few biotechnicians available in Mexico found better job opportunities abroad. PROBIOMED'S pioneering efforts include collaborations with the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos to create a masters program in industrial biotechnology, as well as with the Biotechnology Institute (located in Morelos, also) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Other academic partnerships in the R&D area include the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), the Ministry of Economy and other organizations.
"Our investments in R&D top every other company's, as 20 to 23 percent of our revenue is earmarked for this purpose," the CEO explained.
Formula and procedure improvements
Technology in PROBIOMED is a resource to upgrade procedures leading to obtain and improve formulas. Biotech includes procedures of genetic engineering, molecular and cell biology, cell counting, particle segregation, particle measurement, and others, performed with specialized equipment.
Pharmaceuticals demand high standards, which are enforced with vendors by the company. PROBIOMED'S supplier evaluation standards include:
· Ethics and transparency
· Certified, reliable products
· Compliance with best practice standards (ISO, for example)
· Healthy finances
"We have a complete certifying process for our suppliers, each of which is specific to the supplied product or service," the executive explained.
Talent detection is not an afterthought at PROBIOMED. The company pushes all of its staff members to developing and reaching their highest potentials. PROBIOMED's investments in HRM are defined in three areas:
· Institutional development
· Human development
· Skill development
Use of advanced equipment and devices demands constant training with the latest-generation technology. PROBIOMED partners with different institutions to provide advanced training; consequently, PROBIOMED offers a trainee program, which functioned as the company's first contact with a group of now senior staff members.
"We invest to develop better specialists and also to develop better individuals," Sánchez said.
Medical products where most needed
PROBIOMED already exports its valuable products globally. This fulfills obvious business goals, but perhaps more importantly, it also makes products available in emerging economies, treating the most possible patients at a low cost. Third-world countries are some of the most in need of the company's biosimilar medical products.
Part of PROBIOMED's portfolio is currently available in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Paraguay. Work is underway to get some of these products to Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile and Ecuador as well. Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Argelia already benefit from the company's biosimilar drugs, while Eastern Europe and other Asian and African countries are on PROBIOMED's radar.
"We are looking forward to expand our presence into countries where our low-cost products create a difference," the CEO said.
Clear, sequenced goals
PROBIOMED has established four key priorities for the short term:
• Become compliant with new regulations for biosimilars
• Expand sales and international presence
·Increase sales figures and patients under treatment in Mexico
• Continue with biosimilar medical products R&D, focused on chronic and degenerative conditions
"We have five of our own drugs under development and other licensed products to launch in upcoming years. These developments are focused on therapeutic aid, mainly for oncology and rheumatoid arthritis," Sánchez said.
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