Archive for November 14th, 2011


Ukraine plans for Big Pharma?

November 14, 2011

As all of us who make up the great unwashed hoy polloy are aware, some political statements are easier to believe than others.

Those normally easier to believe relate to the ease in which we think any particular policy can be implemented effectively and the results easily quantified in our daily lives.  Most of us are not as dense as some would wish we were.  Even if we agree wholeheartedly with a policy, if we can see it will be ineffective when implemented or even counterproductive we are either skeptical when it comes to the ineffective or vocal when it concerns the counterproductive.

We are generally quite dismissive of statements that would seem implausible, particularly when the statements are like broad brush strokes with no necessary detail to form a clear picture when it comes to strategy.

This statement by the current Ukrainian Prime Minister is one such statement.

Whilst nobody in Ukraine would decry the idealism behind it when it comes to reducing the price of pharmaceuticals to the end purchaser, one is left wondering how, within 3 or 4 years, Ukraine will be producing 60% of the medicines consumed in Ukraine.

The sheer spectrum of drugs consumed across a nation of 46 million people must be immense as are the medical conditions these drugs are used to combat.  It is one thing to claim all aspirin or flu remedies consumed in Ukraine within 4 years will be 60% domestically produced but quite another to make such a claim across the entire pharmaceutical arena.

Now it is true that several well known Big Pharma companies have opened in Ukraine in the past few years and others look likely to.  There are of course Ukrainian pharma companies who do quite well also, but even so the Prime Minister’s statement seems somewhat optimistic to say the least.  Are his calculations including drugs made elsewhere and outsourced to Ukraine for packaging?  Is that his definition of Ukrainian production?  Value added rather than entirely produced within Ukraine?

Is Ukraine going to gear itself to manufacture copies of drugs that are no longer subject to license/patent/production restrictions previously developed by Big Pharma?  Will it become a sovereign nation equivalent to the man on the street corner who opens his coat displaying numerous pockets filled with pill bottles whispering “Here mate,  wanna buy some Viagra?  No? OK, what about Prozac, I’m selling it cheap?”

Do his calculations and any cost reduction for the end user at point of delivery include the effects of the numerous existing, pending and future free trade agreements Ukraine has?  Is Big Pharma included in any free trade agreements and as such customs duties will decrease causing (hopefully)  a drop in price to the user?

Am I being cynical or realistic when I air my doubts about the ability of Ukraine to achieve this pharmaceutical goal in such a short period of time?

How can I take this statement seriously without knowing the strategies behind it or the definition he has for “production”?  So much of the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time) acronym remain woolly if not opaque.

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