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Adding value in emerging markets

What benefit do branded generics bring to patients around the world?

Island

Many people are aware of branded patented medicines, like Humira, and generic or off-patent medicines, like ibuprofen. But, there is a third class of medicines that isn’t talked about very often - branded generics. Branded generic medicines are off-patent medicines sold under a brand name - for example, Brufen,
a branded version of ibuprofen.

Branded generics are very popular in emerging markets. They account for eight in ten prescriptions in India and nearly half of prescriptions in China and Russia. So, what drives the need for branded generics and what benefit do they bring to patients around the world?

Branded generics offer something of value

When you think of generic medicines, you think low cost, high volume, little differentiation. Pure generic medicines operate in an environment where the lowest price wins.

Branded generics differ in that they aren’t just a copy of an existing molecule. While they may use the same molecule, branded generics offer something of value beyond the pure generic, whether that’s quality, trust, reliability or some form of differentiation such as better packaging or form that makes it more appealing to people who use the medicine.

Dynamics are driving demand

To truly understand the popularity of branded generics in emerging markets, it is necessary to understand the local dynamics in emerging markets.

First, in emerging markets people often pay for medicines out of their own pocket, which means people have a great deal of power in deciding which medicine to choose. As a result, people shop for medicines like consumers.

Second, the quality of medicines in emerging markets is not a given, as we expect it to be in developed nations. For example, there are thousands of companies providing medicines in India, with differing quality levels. And so trust is fundamental as people are choosing which medicine to take.

And finally, there is a growing middle class in emerging markets that is willing to pay a small premium for quality medicine.

The upshot of all these factors is a clear demand for branded generics in emerging markets.

Branded generics drive innovation in emerging markets

It may seem odd to talk about innovation in off-patent medicine, but the truth is that there is still a lot of improvement to be made to medicines that haven’t had patent protection in decades. And that’s where branded generic medicines can excel.

What does innovation in off-patent medicines actually mean? Well, there are a number of ways to add value to off-patent medicines. First, we listen to doctors, pharmacists and the people that use our medicines to find out their unmet needs. Then we use these insights to look for ways to make off-patent medicine even better - easier to take, easier to open or easier to remember - by adding a service or technology that reminds people to take the medicine. Innovation can include new indications, new delivery methods, new dosage combinations, better flavours or better packaging - all designed to help people get better more quickly.

One way to innovate is to find ways that remind people to take their medication, which is a huge problem worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, around half of patients do not take their medicines as prescribed. And it is widely known that non-adherence can lead to poor health outcomes.

This is why we partnered with an outside company to add a smart cap, called CleverCap, to two of our oncology products in Colombia. This smart cap, which fits on a standard pill bottle, includes an alarm that tells people when it’s time to take their medication and dispenses the prescribed amount. The device also connects to the internet to allow doctors and pharmacists to monitor compliance, making people much more likely to take their medication correctly and on time.

Another way to innovate in off-patent medicines is to seek new, clinically-validated indications for existing medicines. Duphaston (oral dydrogesterone) has been available since the 1960s and is used to treat various conditions associated with progesterone deficiency, such as menstrual disorders or threatened miscarriage. In 2013, we began investigating the potential of oral dydrogesterone to help prepare the uterus for IVF treatment. The current standard of care, micronised vaginal progesterone (MVP), is associated with side effects such as irritation and discharge, as well as poor patient acceptance. We thought, wouldn’t it be good if women could take a pill instead?

Earlier this year, the results of our Lotus 1 study were published in Human Reproduction, showing oral dydrogesterone works just as well as MVP. These findings mean a product that is over 50 years old could provide a new, more convenient option to 1.5m women worldwide, with the potential of changing the standard of care for IVF treatment.

Providing affordable, trusted and differentiated products

Branded generics are an important driver in emerging markets. They not only provide trusted, affordable medicine, but they also drive needed innovation in emerging markets. This innovation makes it easier for people to take and stick with their medication, which ultimately leads to better health.

Article by
Andrew Lane

is executive vice president of Established Pharmaceuticals, Abbott's branded-generic business

15th November 2017

From: Sales

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