Even as the world, this month, gave way to a New Economic Order in which G20 nations replaced G8 as the new power club, the global healthcare arena continued to grapple with basic issues. A report from the European Centre for Disease showed a need for more antibiotics that are effective against multi drug-resistant bacteria. World leaders committed to new funding for women’s and children’s health while conceding that more is needed. Hope arose as a new vaccine showed it could cut risk of HIV and yet Africa may not get it since health systems in the region are least equipped to deliver a vaccine successfully. The World Health Organization warned that the parasite which causes malaria is increasingly resistant to artemisinin, the best drug around, and failure to contain this trend would bring serious consequences. And damage to the reputation of drug companies continued as some reputed medical journals exposed articles written by sponsored ghostwriters and companies paid billions of dollars to settle regulatory violations.
In a global arena where Asia will emerge as the world’s predominant power player, leading to the arrival of a multi-polar world, TB, a preventable and curable disease, remains one of the world’s major causes of illness and death, resulting in close to 2 million deaths in 2007. The majority of TB cases and deaths are concentrated in developing countries, particularly those in Asia and Africa. These developments offer great opportunity to BigPharma to develop sustainable solutions for two of its biggest problems a) new markets that can help spur growth – its foray into emerging markets and b) lack of trust within communities in the midst of product recalls and clinical data controversies. Would BigPharma’s strategy for Emerging Markets be to develop them or milk them dry? How will it tackle the onslaught of regulations that are likely to create entry barriers? Would its edge in global politics, economics and technology allow it to break away from replicating western business practices and set up game-changing ones customized for local markets?