Bayer is performing well in the emerging markets, but is looking to strengthen its position in India, the German firm’s healthcare chief has told PharmaTimes World News.

Arthur Higgins, speaking at Bayer’s spring news conference in Leverkusen, said that the company is well-established and specifically targeting growth in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, plus Mexico, South Korea and Turkey. He noted that it is not a question of potential “as we are already there”, and cited the major expansion of Bayer’s salesforce in China.

However, “our white space is India”, he said, noting that while Bayer is “punching above our weight” there, its presence needs strengthening. The most likely way will be through alliances or possibly acquisitions but Mr Higgins said there are no firm plans for a “major capital investment” in India.

He told PharmaTimes World News that “it is not a question of size, it’s about quality”, saying that any deal needs to be a good strategic fit. He added that the patent situation in India is not a great concern although he would like to see the authorities in the country “enforce rather than just recognise intellectual property”.

Bayer is not not going to go down the basic generics route, “we are not interested in being a catalogue seller”, Mr Higgins said, but branded generics is a good market where opportunites are being pursued.

More 'enlightened approach' for reimbursement
Mr Higgins, who will be stepping down in the next few months to be replaced on a caretaker basis by Bayer chairman-elect Marijn Dekkers, also spoke to PharmaTimes World News about the changing environment of the industry, noting that “the cost of doing business has got higher” in a sector “that is lless attractive than a decade ago”. Regarding the growing importance of payors, he said that Bayer has always been focused on ‘market access’, but its approach is now more co-ordinated, right down to its preclinical teams as “researchers want to know what society is going to be prepared to pay for”.

Mr Higgins concluded by noting that “reimbursement is becoming more important than registrability” and urged cost watchdogs to be more transparent about the decisions they take. He argued that “more enlightened thinking” is required because the cost-effectiveness of a drug cannot be truly evaluated without post-marketing data, saying that “there is a big difference between trials and real life”.