"The pharmaceutical industry is powered by science, research and development. The pharmaceutical sector's investment in R&D is growing and is now more than 165 billion Euros globally. However, we cannot say that there is sufficient investment in clinical research unless we are at the level to solve the problems of all patients worldwide."
How does AstraZeneca Turkey fit within the broader umbrella of the corporation, and what are some of its core operations in the country?
AstraZeneca (AZ) Turkey is an important market within AZ Global both in terms of our commercial and “great-place-to-work” strategies. In Turkey, our main therapy areas are in line with the global business, and we operate in cardiovascular, renal and metabolism (CVRM), respiratory and oncology.
AZ Turkey launched its Serotonin project at the end of 2015 to contribute to its continuous efforts of becoming a “great-place-to-work” by increasing employee engagement. The Serotonin team develop creative ideas to engage with employees based on internal pulse survey results, which are communicated twice a year.
What are the main pillars of growth for Turkey itself?
As of Q3 2019, our main growth platforms are new CVRM, respiratory and new oncology products, but we are generating continuous growth with our mature brands, too.
What are your expectations of how the Turkish pharma and biopharma industry may develop in future years?
Funds allocated for biotechnological medicines are expected to increase as a share of expenses from 20% to 30-35%. The balancing of healthcare costs will be supported by private complementary insurance. Meanwhile, the localisation policy will translate into increased employment and support for innovative medicines. Innovative molecules should be included as alternative reimbursement models are established. However, over-investing in biotechnological facilities may stall the market in the future.
What do you believe to be the biggest challenge confronting Turkish bio-pharmaceuticals?
The biggest obstacle to getting the biomedicines in reimbursement system is the pricing system in Turkey. For the moment, the exchange rate of Euro in Turkey is 3.40 , which is extremely low relative to the market.
AstraZeneca is investing up to 5% of its revenues in R&D, and has a rich pipeline posted for new launches in mid-2020 and 2021. Could you elaborate on the need for investment in new medicines worldwide, with reference to one of the new drugs pending?
The pharmaceutical industry is powered by science, research and development. The pharmaceutical sector's investment in R&D is growing and is now more than 165 billion Euros globally. However, we cannot say that there is sufficient investment in clinical research unless we are at the level to solve the problems of all patients worldwide. We should continue to invest in scientific studies especially for clinical research. There are new compounds currently under investigation.
“Open innovation” refers to a model of collaborative partnerships. How could such models be advanced in Turkey to foster breakthrough research?
We collectively stand a much better chance of delivering effective treatments for serious diseases when there is collaboration with pharmaceutical companies worldwide at all stages of drug discovery, biotechs and academic institutions – such as our collaboration with Koç University. With this scientific collaboration, we aim to conduct pre-clinical studies for treatment of diabetes, cancer (such as prostate cancer) and cardiovascular diseases. We made significant investment for pre-clinical researches and we have started our research about the effects of AstraZeneca drug molecules designed for cancer treatment for brain tumour and some stem cell models developed by Koç University scientists. Also, studies related to the carcinogenesis and the binding of AZ drugs to the KRAS receptor which has a drug target, were also carried out. This collaboration will help us discover and develop new drugs.
Our Open Innovation platform provides an open, collaborative approach to link our expertise, unique research tools, optimised molecules, technologies and challenges with your research capabilities and interests. For example information is shared with AstraZeneca UK R&D.
In Turkey, we will expand our collaborations with other stakeholders, research companies through first class research and innovation, building capacity, saving lives and promoting stability and growth.