What it means to you personally to be part of a world's leading company with long history?

I like the idea that leadership is a responsibility, not a privilege. Globally, the company is responsible for 200 million patients who require medicines to be supplied every day. Every hour, there is an airplane in the air, a ship in the sea and a truck on a highway with Teva medications. We supply medicines to half a million people in the Baltics, every tenth inhabitant of the Baltics uses Teva prescription medicines. This is a huge logistics matrix!

The Baltic team employs more than 200 people - talented and great colleagues. I will not say anything new, the "fuel" in the team are people who together know how to dream, inspire, who like to win. People are the company's bloodstream, power.

I also like that every decision we make in the company is focused on the patient: will the medicine and service we introduce be what patients expect? For example, we conducted an international study in twelve countries, and we have created new, very well-thought-out packaging of medicines so that people use medicines correctly and the risk of mistakes is reduced. In our studies, we have also seen that a large group in society is made up of people who care for a chronically ill loved one. A patient is usually in the center, but caregivers are often left without any support. We pay attention to them in our campaigns, we create the company policy so that we are more flexible towards our employees, who have to take care of some patient at home.

Over the past decade, Teva has acquired and merged with several other pharmaceutical companies. Added value is a resource that we can invest in research, innovation development.

This is the attitude we work with. We offer more than just medicines - in recent years we have developed an educational part, such as patient portals, where patients with chronic diseases share their experiences of how to live with the disease and maintain the best possible quality of life. This emotional and educational support in the case of illness is, in my opinion, vital. The availability of medicines and the focus on patient education is one of the key aspects of the Teva's strategy.

Interview2.png

Teva is the world's largest generic company. What are the benefits of generic medicinal products?

We can look at this issue from two perspectives. First from a patient's point of view. It is critical that the patient receives medications at the right time, in the right place and at an affordable price. It is equally important that the patient buys all the medicines prescribed by the doctor. And this can be done if they are at an affordable price. Unfortunately, some people leave the pharmacy, having bought only a part of the medicines. In the Baltics, about a third of prescription medicines are not purchased. It must be remembered that the cause-effect principle works here: if we do not use the medicines properly, the chances of getting in the hospital increase, the quality of life deteriorates and life expectancy decreases

The second aspect is the regulatory-economic. I see generic medicines as the main economic driver, because they help to use resources rationally, as well as save and free up space for innovations, innovative medicines. The main task of generic medicines is to provide patients with affordable medicines, to increase compliance (all prescribed medicines are used correctly and regularly), thus increasing life expectancy and patient quality of life.

Interview1.png

What areas are important to the company alongside generic medicines?

We work in four areas: generic, innovative, biopharmaeuticals and over-the-counter medicines. One of our future strategic directions is biosimilar medicines. This medicine is similar to the original biological medicines made from living organisms. Biological medicines and biosimilar medicines are the new generation of medicines. In the next 10 to 15 years, more than 30 biological medicines in the world will expire patent protection, and the good news for patients is that biosimilar medicines will enter the market, the availability of medicines will increase in areas such as oncology, endocrinology (diabetes), immunology, and cardiovascular diseases. In the Baltics, a positive trend is been seen over the last four years - the part of biosimilar medicines in the market of biological medicines is growing. In 2021, Lithuania is the leader with a market share of 35% (in pharmaceutical packaging), while in Latvia and Estonia - 11% and 7%, respectively.

I would like to mention our Baltic pride - manufacturing site of biopharmaceuticals in Vilnius. It is one of the two Teva manufacturing sites of biological medicines in Europe and the only one specializing in bacterial fermentation. Teva Vilnius manufacturing site provides availability of biopharmaceuticals for oncology patients in 50 countries.

If we talk about over-the-counter products (medicines, supplements, medical devices), I think almost everyone will be familiar with one of our products. We have strong brands of vitamins (VitirON), analgesics (Olfen) and cold medicines (Brontex, Decatylen, Wick). This is an area where we also invest in disease prevention and public education. For example, if your back hurts: how to exercise, lift weights properly etc.

In the field of innovative medicines, we are strong in neurology (treatment of multiple sclerosis, migraine prevention), oncology and respiratory diseases. Our latest novelty is an innovative preventive migraine therapy that reduces the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. It is estimated that about a million people in the Baltics suffer from migraines, while migraines are not diagnosed or are misinterpreted as usual headaches. People who have had a migraine or have a relative suffering from this disease understand that it can also mean losing their ability to work, as they can have attacks for more than 15 days a month. How ready are we to recognize this diagnosis? Lithuania is in the best position in the Baltics, where medicines for migraine treatment and prevention are reimbursed by the state. In Estonia, migraine treatment is reimbursed by the state, but payment for preventive treatment by the state is still under evaluation. Latvia is in the worst situation: patient signatures have been collected to encourage legislators to include this diagnosis in the list of reimbursable diagnoses and migraine patients could receive state-reimbursed treatment.

Describe the national peculiarities of the pharmaceutical industry - for what we are special in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia?

In the European context, the Baltics lag far behind in the availability of innovative medicines. The data compiled by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations show that 152 new medicines were registered in Europe between 2016 and the end of 2019. 23 of them are available in Latvia, ranking Latvia in the last place in the European Union. In comparison, 26 of the new medicines are available to patients in Lithuania and 47 in Estonia. On average in the European Union, these are 74 new medicines.

Latvia stands out with its advanced private medicine, large private payments of patients in health care. An analysis by the International Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Companies this year showed that while the budget of reimbursable medicines per capita in Estonia and Lithuania has reached 142 euros and 161 euros, respectively, in Latvia it is lower by almost two times – 85 euros per capita.

Due to high costs, people do not buy all the medicines prescribed, respectively, comparing to the the average consumption of medicines in Europe for us it is half lower.

What is your opinion about the price of medicines often forms in a pharmacy, where people judge: why are the medicines so expensive?! What would you answer?

If we look at the list of reimbursable medicines, then we are one of the companies that offer the cheapest medicines. That is our mission - to make medicines available. The price of medicines is a complex issue. Where does it come from? Not just from the ex-works price. In addition, the registration fee for medicines, which differs in each of the Baltic States, logistics, mark-ups for pharmacies and wholesalers (each country again has its own conditions) and, of course, value added tax is summed up. In Latvia it is 12% for prescription drugs, in Estonia - 9%, in Lithuania - 5%.

How the company was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and what are your main findings?

Like many, we had to think in an unusual way. It was challenging to transform communication with customers in online environment, to meet all the additional requirements associated with the pandemic in the manufacturing. In my opinion, we became even more efficient, flexible, more powerful. An interesting observation - how responsible the companies became towards their employees. We paid a lot of attention to the mental health and well-being of our employees, because we all saw that the boundaries between home and work life blurred. But it is very important to respect these boundaries.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, we saw a significant increase in demand for the drug. I would like to believe that not only did people buy medicines for fear that they might not be available, but the pandemic made it clear how important it is to use them regularly, thus preventing chronic diseases from exacerbation.

The digitalisation of health care has seen a rapid leap. Patients and healthcare professionals made much more use of digital solutions and communication options - contacting your doctor on the Zoom platform or Whatsapp video call is no longer uncommon! However, despite the new solutions, in the long run we will certainly experience the boomerang effect of undiagnosed and untreated diseases due to the interruption of health care services. This is the invisible part of a pandemic iceberg.

NPS-EE-NP-00037