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Auto Injectors & Pen Injectors: Differentiating Products in Asia Pacific

January 25, 2013
Asia Pacific, with its mix of mature and emerging pharmaceutical markets and strong indigenous R&D capabilities, has no doubt already become a prominent driving force for the current and future global pharmaceutical industry with reports projecting the industry in this region to grow at a CAGR of 10 percent between 2012 and 2015.

As the third largest pharmaceutical market following North America and Europe, Asia Pacific offers an immense potential for multinational pharmaceutical companies not only due to its increasingly growing population but more specifically also the opportunities less mature markets like China and India present. For more mature markets like Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia where many major pharmas have already established strong presence, instead of rapid growth, continues to focus on enhancing existing and new biotech solutions. However, whether it’s a mature or an emerging market, many major pharma companies will within the next five years face the same conundrum of the dreaded patent cliff where loss of exclusivity means a diminished portfolio and competition from generics. To minimize potential loss associated, these multinational pharmaceutical companies have to (and some already have) start to plan and implement potential solutions such as offering a second brand (of the original), optimizing existing pipeline, mergers and acquisitions, product differentiation utilizing new drug delivery systems or a healthy mix of all of the above depending on the specific needs of the targeted region.

Offering a second brand requires a very clear and differentiated pricing structure and sales and marketing method from the original drug. However, since it’s still early in the game, there’s yet a solid example where a second brand has very successfully performed against competing generics while holding its place alongside its original innovator. As an alternative, companies can consider mergers and acquisitions when financially and strategically appropriate. Thorough analysis of the targeted region’s healthcare infrastructure, economy and many more are crucial when determining which options to move forward with.

Another route to consider is product differentiation, which offers product competitiveness by focusing on end-user needs and introducing a range of drug delivery options to improve the experience for patients. This can be an additional enhancement to whichever strategy most suitable for the pharma companies. Take injectables for example, by introducing a biologic product through devices like Auto Injectors and Pen Injectors not only sets apart the product on the market but also offers economical and patient benefits. Combination products like the Auto Injector and Pen Injector offers improved efficacy, convenience and safety, allowing patients to administer drugs at the comfort of their home and reducing the burden on healthcare professionals and systems. However, although these advanced drug delivery devices have already been on the market for some time in North America and Europe and continues to be a growing trend, such devices are still relatively new concepts to pharmaceutical companies and patients in the Asia Pacific area. As a result, it is vital for a pharma company to choose a partner that has the track record and knowledge to help understand how an Auto Injector and/or Pen Injector best fit their cost model, time to market timeline and product competitiveness. Just as important, the partner should offer a range of integrated in-house services from developing innovative and user-friendly designs to high quality manufacturing capabilities such as automation, tooling, molding and final assembly.

As the trends and demands of the pharmaceutical landscape continues to be sculpted due to rapidly growing economies, emerging generics and regional healthcare changes, multinational pharmaceutical companies have to come up with new business models to address the patent cliff challenge while tailoring to each major Asia Pacific region’s needs. As a part of these new strategies, introducing product differentiation through advanced drug delivery systems like Auto Injectors and Pen Injectors can prove to be advantageous if the right partner is chosen.

Steven R. Kaufman is head of Marketing for the SHL Group. He is based in Asia at the company’s manufacturing headquarters in Taiwan and reports directly to the CEO, Roger Samuelsson.