ISSUE #66 – Ng Tian Wee, Pierre Fabre Medicament’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific (pictured below) shares with us about its activities and how the pharma company uses Singapore as its regional hub.
Why Singapore as Pierre Fabre’s regional hub for Asia Pacific?
Over 30 of the top global pharma companies have sited their regional headquarters in Singapore, compared to approximately five in Hong Kong. From a talent pool perspective, Singapore is an ideal location to establish a formidable team spanning the entire value chain of the industry – from commercial, regulatory to medical professionals.
The country’s positive business environment, as well as its centrality, connectivity and proximity to other countries in the Asia Pacific region, are also factors that have played into my decision of being based here.
Could you share with us about your presence in the zone? How do you work across the region?
Given the growth potential of the region, Asia will certainly play a significant role in achieving greater international presence. While our products are being commercialised in most part of Asia Pacific, Pierre Fabre Medicament is only present in Australia, China and Vietnam today. Understandably, we operate under varied business models, from having direct local presence to working through licensees and distributors.
What is important when working across the region?
As in all relationships, the choice and management of partners is key. In Pierre Fabre, we respect all business relationships and trusted partners. Communication is always frequent and open. The longevity of such collaborations in the region is evidence of that.
Having a regional hub in Singapore for Asia has certainly helped. Being on the ground enables one to tie the company missions with local constituencies and policies more effectively. Cultures, language, structures and value systems can differ tremendously and having a deep understanding of the local mindset and being in the same time zone as our subsidiaries and partners allows for potential gaps to be pre-empted and rectified while connecting the business with the market.
Has it been necessary to adjust your strategies and approach to tackle the various markets in Asia?
Indeed, not all of the products we offer in Europe work in Asia. Markets here respond differently, even for oncology drugs. We need to adjust the way we think about market access, reimbursement and marketing.
The second part is about talent and team building. The system we created in Europe does not necessarily apply in Asia as the workforce here is culturally different; their value systems and expectations about work are not the same.
Third, the way products and treatments are being funded in Europe differs from that in Asia. In the West, governments fund a lot of treatments and products, either paid in full or subsidised. In Asia, apart from a few countries, most patients have to pay out of their own pocket, which makes a huge difference.
This is where flexibility and awareness of different systems is of crucial importance.
How do you see your activities evolving in Singapore and in the zone, say in the next five years?
Though Pierre Fabre may not be the largest pharma company by any means, our aspiration is for the firm to be recognised as a respectable, well-managed global organisation that is an employer-of-choice where its people are able to increase their exposure to various product areas, acquire knowledge and advance their careers.
Over the next five years, we aim to expand our geographical footprint, creating greater local presence through setting up of local affiliates in strategic markets while clustering the smaller ones, and introducing products that will benefit both clinicians and patients in Asia. All these will be coordinated through the regional hub in Singapore.
Interview with Ng Tian Wee, Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Pierre Fabre Medicament
Published in FOCUS Magazine — Issue #2 2018 “Connecting to the Region”