Interview: Florencia Davel
How will collaboration between international and local institutions help develop the sector?
FLORENCIA DAVEL: This is one of the most important aspects that needs to be promoted. We can be great contributors in bringing local institutions to a higher level through the continuous transfer of technology and expertise, allowing local providers to deliver better services to patients. One example of this is our partnership with a local company for HIV product.
In the field of biotechnology, there is considerable space for strategic alliances with international institutions, in order to promote best practices and secure greater investment. Recent government policies that shortened approval times for clinical trials have already helped to encourage international investment. Additionally, an updated patent law that applies international standards would further contribute towards building trust in the country.
What needs to be done to further develop the country’s health infrastructure?
DAVEL: Investment in infrastructure is an essential part of a solid public health strategy. We must have a unified long-term vision in order to be able to provide an efficient and effective service to patients. Today there are great differences between hospitals and equipment in Buenos Aires and those in provinces in the interior of the country. Furthermore, in Buenos Aires one finds large hospitals that lack the capacity to treat all patients adequately. The question is how to optimise investment in order to make it more effective, reaching specific areas. In a highly fragmented health care system, such as that in Argentina, it is essential to ensure the sector’s long-term financial sustainability. The country has a history of inefficiencies, but we have confidence in the path that is being taken. The key moving forward is to promote further innovation in treatment and product development by encouraging greater investment, while ensuring that the wider population has access to such innovations.
How important is scientific human capital for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI)?
DAVEL: A key advantage of Argentina is its high level of human resources in medical science. Argentine professionals are at the forefront of research and development in everything related to immunotherapy, which is changing the paradigm around cancer treatment. There is also an emphasis on clinical trials in the country, involving the development of new molecules. At a global level, immunotherapy is placing greater attention on the early stages of cancer treatment, and there is therefore a need for greater research in this area. Argentina is in a position to become a key global player in this segment. International firms have an essential role to play in Argentina on account of their ability to provide the necessary investment for the sector to grow.
How could intellectual property rights be redefined in order to promote greater investment in research and development?
DAVEL: We are aware that the authorities are working on improving the current regulation of intellectual property and the issuance of patents, but at the same time it is clear that more needs to be done in order to bridge the gap with countries such as Japan and the US. The first step in this direction has been taken, as today we have an open communication channel with the government and evident progress is being made. Furthermore, we need to have a strong patent law in order to promote investment in medical innovation. Significant opportunities lie in adopting criteria to determine the patentability of products that are comparable with those that are already in place in more developed markets.
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