The pharmaceutical company Novartis is the top company in the world when it comes to research and development of innovative therapies, and more than 200 clinical development projects are in progress at the moment.
Novartis has been present in Serbia for more than 20 years. The company’s Country Head for Serbia, Predrag Bogavac, says in his interview for eKapija that several things important for Novartis` further operations happened in 2016.
– Namely, after several years of stagnation in the field of introducing innovative therapies to the reimbursement list of the National Health Insurance Fund, we can say that progress has been made and that patients in Serbia have finally been provided with an opportunity to be treated with modern and efficient drugs, above all in hematology and oncology.
The interview with Predrag Bogavac is the fourth in the line of conversations with member-companies of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, through which SSCC promotes the operations of Swiss companies in Serbia and highlight the values and good business practices of this country and these companies.
eKapija: What are Novartis’ results in Serbia in 2016? What are the projections for 2017?
– We are very pleased with our operations in 2016, as it was a considerably better year than previous ones. For 2017, we have projected further growth, above all due to improvements in the sense of introducing drugs to the reimbursement list of NHIF.
eKapija: How does the Serbian medical drug market compare to Europe?
– The Serbian medical drug market is very small compared to other European countries. We belong to the group of countries which set aside the least amounts of money per capita. Even those countries which have roughly the same amount of economic strength tend to set aside considerably larger amounts of money for drugs. The example of Bulgaria is the most illustrative one. The population is nearly the same as in Serbia, the economic situation is similar, the total healthcare expenditure is smaller, and the medical drug market is much larger.
eKapija: How available are quality drugs to people of Serbia?
– I believe that quality drugs are available to our citizens. There’s no room for improvisation in the pharmaceutical industry and the quality is the basic premise. Novartis will always have strong dedication to its patients in Serbia, and our goal is to provide efficient and safe therapies for them in the quickest way possible.
What our citizens and patients lack is a larger number of modern and efficient therapies. They exist and are available in most European countries.
eKapija: Could we expect any new medical drugs in our market?
– Several things important for Novartis’ further operations in Serbia happened in 2016. Namely, after several years of stagnation in the field of introducing innovative therapies to the reimbursement list of the National Health Insurance Fund, we can say that progress has been made and that patients in Serbia have finally been provided with an opportunity to be treated with modern and efficient drugs, above all in hematology and oncology. Considering that Novartis is the world leader in these fields, several of our products have already been put on the NHIF reimbursement list. I hope that the trend of setting aside more and more funds for innovative therapies will continue, as the nation’s health is the biggest priority.
eKapija: What are Novartis’ most significant results in the field of innovative drugs?
– Novartis is the top company in the world when it comes to research and development of innovative therapies. We have more than 200 clinical development projects in progress at the moment. The thing we’re especially proud of is our strong focus on research, oriented towards discovering drugs for treating rare diseases.
We strive to enable patients to enjoy maximum benefits of new drugs by prioritizing the research in line with patients’ needs, using synergy with our divisions Alcon and Sandoz, identifying biomarkers in order to provide diagnostic support to treating patients for rare diseases, carefully designing clinical studies in order to help healthcare authorities assess the clear economic benefit of new therapies and invest in digital technologies which will improve treatment outcome.
eKapija: The trend of merging and acquiring pharmaceutical companies has reached Serbia. What is your opinion on this? How will it develop further?
– I’d say that this is a global trend, which is accordingly reflected in the Serbian market. The trend is sure to continue. As for Serbia. The local pharmaceutical industry is mostly owned by foreign companies, and I’d like to see a good solution and a strong foreign partner for Galenika as well.
eKapija: Is Novartis considering acquisitions in Serbia and the region?
– Unfortunately, I can’t give you a clear answer to this question. Novartis has departments dealing with potential acquisitions worldwide. I have no information as to their having Serbia or any other country from the region in their focus at the moment.
eKapija: What is Novartis’ long-term strategy in the Serbian market?
– We have been present in Serbia through a branch office for more than 20 years. We intend to further develop and strengthen our presence and we hope that the future will bring more favorable trends for the innovative pharmaceutical industry in this market. In any case, we are here to stay, and our responsibility is toward our Serbian patients above all.
eKapija: Switzerland is known for its high quality of patient care. What other Swiss values do you implement in your operations?
– Switzerland could certainly serve as a role model for us in many areas of life an work. It is above all a rich country of humble people. The wealth they possess attracts the best people and projects from all over the world, making Switzerland a country of innovation, knowledge, precision and quality in various fields. As a Swiss company in Serbia, we honor the business and cultural heritage we bring.