Interview with Humberto Arnés
Managing Director of Farmaindustria 

 


 

"The Spanish pharmaceutical industry needs a stable, predictable framework in the medium and long term"

With a degree in engineering from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), Humberto Arnés has been Managing Director of Farmaindustria since 2001 and is currently Board member and deputy chairman of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations' (EFPIA) Executive Committee. 
 
Farmaindustria is the national employers' association for the Spanish pharmaceutical industry, and consequently represents most of the pharmaceutical laboratories in Spain. What are the issues that are of most current concern to the pharmaceutical industry?
Our primary concern as an industry - like so many others - is to come through the severe economic crisis in which Spain is immersed and which has led to the implementation of budget cuts on a level that is unparalleled in our history, rendered necessary by the commitments to reduce the Spanish public deficit. 
These cuts have been particularly drastic in pharmaceutical spending and have had a major impact on our companies, who have seen their market shrink by about 30% in Spain over the last three years. We need to be able to develop consensus formulas between government and industry by which the sustainability of public accounts can be made compatible with the growth of our industry.
 
Do you think that PharmaProcess is a good tool for helping the industry to find solutions for their current problems?
Any forum that allows people to explore solutions for increasing this industry's weight and its contribution to the welfare of society is definitely important. 
It is also a magnificent occasion to show that we all have an opportunity to ensure that the Spanish National Health System continues to evolve without uncertainties as to its viability, that Spanish patients can continue to have confidence that their pharmaceutical services meet the highest possible standards and that these two goals are supported by a corporate activity that guarantees a positive impact on our GDP; that keeps Spanish medicine within the international new drug development streams; and that helps our country's clinical practice to maintain the levels of excellence that have been its hallmark.
 
What are the solutions advocated by Farmaindustria to help the industry face the difficult situation it is currently going through?
The Spanish pharmaceutical industry needs a stable, predictable framework in the medium and long term, without any shocks impacting the industry's activity, in which expenditure goals are defined that are consistent with the 2013-2016 Stability Programme and the Autonomous Regions' Adjustment Plans, and which recognise and give adequate consideration to new developments in market access, pricing and reimbursement policies, and to a regulated market without any regulatory fragmentation. 
This scenario of certainty will enable us to come back onto the growth path, with ongoing R&D commitment, and once again position our industry as one of the drivers of the production model that the Spanish economy needs. This industry has three basic levers (research, internationalisation and manufacturing facilities) that make it a prototype of the ¿Spain brand' that we all wish for the country. We have an extraordinary opportunity with the pharmaceutical industry that we should not allow to pass us by.
 
What are the features of the Spanish medicine industry? 
Until now, Spain has boasted a strong pharmaceutical industry, with strong roots in the country and very promising opportunities for the future. Spain is Europe's fifth largest pharmaceutical market in terms of sales, which makes it one of the top countries in Europe and, consequently, in the world in the pharmaceutical area. 
However, the differential we still have in some fields with the large European markets should narrow if we are able to play our cards right. In other words, if we can be more competitive, more efficient, can export more, defend and grow employment in our industry, and make our knowledge centres globally competitive. 
However, many of our companies are in a very difficult situation as a result of the pharmaceutical policies that have been implemented, particularly in the last three years. In order for the industry to come back onto a growth path, we need to put behind us a period of uncertainty in which we have had to adapt to continual changes in legislation and accept financial sacrifices that are endangering its future viability. 
 
As member of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA), how do you see this industry's situation in Europe as a whole? Where does the Spanish industry fit in the European context?
The European pharmaceutical industry is a strategic sector, with enormous potential and deep roots in the continent. Although pharmaceutical companies in other European countries are also suffering the consequences of the deficit control policies that have been implemented throughout Europe, the measures taken have not been so drastic and European companies have not been driven to such a complicated or even critical situation as the Spanish companies. 
Furthermore, many countries have strong domestic companies with a strong international presence, whereas the Spanish pharmaceutical industry, in general, is smaller and less internationalised. Also, in other European countries, governments have been aware for many years of this industry's strategic importance and the added value it contributes both to their economies and to their societies and have supported it with active policies.
 
What are the prospects for the industry both in Spain and abroad?
This industry is driven by R&D and pharmaceutical research has changed completely in the last few years. The efficacy requirements demanded of drugs are currently very high and this makes it harder to obtain the same number of innovative molecules per year as in previous years.
However, the industry is developing new methodologies and mechanisms of action to increase the success rates. This will lead to the availability of drugs for treating diseases that until now were incurable and thus respond to growing health demands. 
It is very difficult to foresee how all this will affect corporate structures but it is very likely that there will be a concentration process, a shift towards emerging countries in the search for markets and quality human capital at a lower cost and, most probably, a growing cooperation with small and medium-sized biotechnology companies within an open innovation concept.
 

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