CEO Blog: The Challenge of Providing Access to Affordable Medication

In today's world, the process of providing access to affordable healthcare should be easier than it is. Globally, we're all affected by the rising costs of healthcare in the face of an aging population – increasing expenditures for healthcare is a challenge in every country where Teva has a presence.

A vast majority of Teva's current business is in the U.S., where a significant portion of healthcare funds are spent on expensive biologic therapies. For the past decade, generic pharmaceutical companies have been working towards the goal of bringing biosimilars to patients in the U.S. Around the world, the biologics markets are seeing increased competition, which is driving down the price of these expensive therapies. However, here in the U.S., we have legislation that essentially discourages companies from creating a true biosimilar. Brand companies are given 12 years of monopoly protection, and also the opportunity to make a slight "tweak" to their therapy to start the clock all over again. This was the bill that was passed by both the House and Senate – who are elected to represent the people. If you ask me, the people should have wanted a bill that enabled lower-cost alternatives, not discouraged them.

As I write this, we are witnessing the FTC's attempt to secure passage of anti-consumer patent settlement legislationby attaching it to a bill that covers much needed funding for teachers and U.S. soldiers. We believe that the banning of all patent settlements not only hinders the process of challenging patents but ultimately drastically reduces American's access to affordable medicine. If this isn't the system at its worst, I don't know what is.

Similar regulatory challenges exist throughout the rest of the world.

Measures that are being introduced throughout Western Europe, Israel, Russia and even countries in Latin America may cause delays in market entry… all to the detriment of patients. We continue to use our voice in these countries to encourage regulation that provides guidelines and governance to enhance the quality of our healthcare systems.

Doctor holding test tube
Giuseppe Ceschi | Workbook Stock | Getty Images
Doctor holding test tube

There are, however, bright spots in this story.

We have numerous opportunities for increased generic usage in the US, and there are emerging markets where patents are set to expire – which will create growth for Teva, but more importantly, affordable therapy alternatives to a population who cannot afford coverage today.

We have spoken publicly about our focus on increasing market share in key international markets in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and Asia. In Latin America, the pharmaceutical market has many players but no clear leader. There is a robust generic drug system, and based on IMS forecasts, the Latin America pharmaceutical market is expected to grow an average rate of approximately 12% through 2013. Japan is the second largest pharmaceutical market in the world. We've already established a joint venture in this market – Teva-Kowa Pharma Co., Ltd. This joint venture already acquired approximately 70% of a local Japanese generics company – Taisho. Russia is one of the top ten markets by value – which is one of the reasons why the government is seeking to encourage use of generics.

We believe this growth will result in an increased demand for generic drugs, especially as patients, governments and payors strive to contain the increased costs of healthcare. With our robust pipeline, expansive product portfolio, and global presence, we believe that Teva is uniquely positioned to have a significant presence in these expanding markets.

Aside from the sales of pharmaceuticals globally, I'm also proud of our product donation program. We donate product to our non-governmental organization partners every quarter, and recently had the distinct pleasure of making a sizable donation to assist in relief efforts in Haiti.

The truly exciting part of working for Teva is that while you're building value for your shareholders, you're also bringing value to patients. Teva is both a brand and generic company and I truly believe we are better able to navigate the delicate balance between access and innovation. This is what sets Teva apart from our competition.

I've personally had the opportunity to work in various roles in the healthcare system. I'm a pharmacist by education, and I've worked on both the retail and manufacturing side. I've witnessed the growth generic pharmaceuticals in the U.S. into a global industry. Throughout my career, I have come to realize that this is one of the most rewarding industries – one where all of us have only just begun to recognize the possibilities that exist and the potential to truly make quality healthcare accessible to everyone.

William S. Marth is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Teva North America, a role he has held since January 2008. Teva Pharmaceuticals is among the top 11 pharmaceutical companies in the world and is the leading generic pharmaceutical company.