Sandoz leading in generics and biosimilar medicines in Vietnam

August 29, 2022 | 11:46
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Sandoz (a division of Novartis) – one of the world's leading companies in high-quality generics and biosimilar – is mapping its business in Vietnam with a passion to become the leader in this field. Ho Thi Thanh Van, country head of Sandoz Vietnam, shared her plan to implement this strategy with VIR’s Bich Ngoc.
Sandoz leading in generics and biosimilar medicines in Vietnam
Ho Thi Thanh Van, country head, Sandoz Vietnam

How important are high-quality generics and biosimilars in general and to Vietnamese in particular?

According to a WHO report, at least 400 million people worldwide cannot access essential health services and more than 2 billion cannot afford to buy the medicines they need.

Vietnam is a developing country, and limited patient and caregiver affordability are some of the barriers to this access.

Generic and biosimilars medicines are important because they help more patients gain access to more affordable treatment therapies.

Biological medicines, also known as first-generation biopharmaceuticals, have been produced for the last 30 years and are in clinical use for a number of diseases. To be manufactured and commercialised, biologics need to go through a rigorous review process.

Furthermore, all biological medicines in the exclusivity period are expensive and more likely to fail, and high-priced medicines are not accessible to all classes with or without health insurance.

As a result, there is great interest in developing follow-on biologicals (generally referred to as biosimilars) that match reference medicines, thus offering equivalent health outcomes at a reduced cost.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was the first regulatory authority to establish a framework for biosimilar approval. The EMA has issued guidelines since 2005 and has published additional overarching and product-specific biosimilar guidelines. It has so far approved more than 30 biosimilar medicines globally.

However, biosimilar medicines are still new in the Vietnamese market and the simplification in evaluating applications would facilitate better access for patients. A complete and transparent set of instructions will shorten the time to appraise and approve the licensing of products registered in Vietnam.

Sandoz leading in generics and biosimilar medicines in Vietnam

What is the importance of the Vietnam market for Sandoz?

Sandoz was founded in 1886. In 1996 Sandoz merged with Ciba-Geigy and become today's Novartis Group, which operates in a variety of pharmaceutical segments.

In 2013, Sandoz established a representative office in Vietnam specialising in biosimilars and high-quality generics. Since 2020, Sandoz is a division of Novartis Vietnam Co. Ltd.

Economically, Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing countries in Asia and ASEAN, with GDP growth of 6-6.5 per cent recently. After the pandemic, Vietnam was assessed as having good economic recovery and reasonable control by the government.

Sandoz Vietnam is considered one of the fastest-growing markets in Asia. So far, we have grown our team to 180 employees, with consistent double-digit growth.

The Vietnamese market has potential that is attractive in terms of investment and business and many patients are in need of medicines. Sandoz Asia’s leaders chose Vietnam to visit right after the pandemic recovery at the end of May. This shows the positive signs of the Vietnamese market for our global group.

For the last two years, the pandemic has affected the whole world. Does Sandoz have a strategy to adapt to the new situation and accelerate its development?

In business, there is no time to wait, which means that we always need to prepare. In addition, every crisis presents opportunities. When employees had to work from home and suffer from limited interaction, we utilised this time to equip them with different skills, such as sales, product knowledge, and others.

In addition, we also set up and implemented many steps to simplify our workflow. We know that the difficulty will pass and that we must steadfastly follow the chosen path to overcome the challenges.

The most important thing is to always have staff ready in all circumstances. Sandoz Vietnam always monitors and updates policies from the Vietnamese government and from its global headquarters to have the most flexibility in its operations.

Sandoz's guidelines are constantly updated on the system so that everyone can follow and comply with them. The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on society as a whole, but on the other hand, it also pushed us to apply digital transformation technologies.

In reality, digital transformation brings refreshing and exciting experiences to the medical staff at work. Sandoz is proud to be a pioneer in applying digital technologies to its activities.

As one of the world's leading companies in the production of high-quality generics and biosimilars, we have determined that being a world leader is not only about products, but also about the expertise in our operation.

Sandoz has obtained the Sandoz Seal of Quality proving those things. Although we are now back to face-to-face working, we still optimise operations through digital transformation. Thanks to that, we can maximise efficiency by combining both direct and indirect forms well.

Our business situation in the first seven months of the year was very positive. For Sandoz, all plans are developed under our roadmap.

Furthermore, Sandoz Vietnam has recently received the HR Asia Best Companies to Work for in Asia 2022 awards by Business Media International, a regional leader in promoting growth for companies in Asia through data-driven brands and initiatives.

We are glad to celebrate this milestone where we are recognised for our world-class employee engagement, workplace excellence, demonstrable empathy, and care for people.

What is Sandoz's development policy for the next three to five years?

We will consistently implement the strategy of Grow to Win. First, we must win ourselves. At Sandoz, learning on the job is the most important way to gain experience. On the business side, growth means how our business compares to the same period last year. Win here is human development.

Business growth means more patients have access to medication. What makes Sandoz employees proud is not only the sales volume but also the increasing number of patients that can have access to our medicines.

Sandoz's working philosophy is to always communicate with employees so that they see the meaning in their work. Along with the philosophy of Grow to Win, Sandoz has visualised the image of a bamboo tree from 2020, the year of the COVID outbreak.

The bamboo tree symbolises work, good preparation, and cultivation. The bamboo philosophy is durable, resilient, and combined with a whole team to become a forest. Each individual at Sandoz forms the Sandoz Vietnam bamboo forest. This doesn't happen overnight, so it has to be solid and built throughout the history of our business. We are mapping our business to become the leader in this field in Vietnam.

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By Bich Ngoc

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