"This is a global trend and Ukraine is part of it," Shymkiv pointed out. "Generics allow access to treatment for more patients, which is why governments of many countries focus on them while planning state medical programs."
Moreover, generics are not just an emerging market phenomenon. According to a recent report by the United States regulator, the Food and Drug Administration: "Affordable generic drugs accessible to the American people is a win for public health."
Unlike developing an original new medicine, generics don't require a lot of investments. While creating a new drug can cost more than 1 billion dollars developing generics can be closer to the 5 to 10-million-dollar range. Moreover, as markets for patented drugs are already known (and can serve as a benchmark to forecast the market for generics), generics are both a less capital-intensive and less-risky type of investment. Finally, generics are also much quicker to develop: whereas original medical compounds can take more than 10 years to develop, creating generics is usually 3-4 times faster.
"The goal of the World Health Organization is to provide the highest accessible level of health care to everyone around the planet. WHO experts see generics as a chance for millions of patients to get affordable medical treatment – because such drugs are much cheaper than the originals, while maintaining the same quality," Shymkiv said, adding that many governments now focus on generics when considering state procurement.
One company's loss is another's gain. While many Western-based multinationals are set to lose out because of so-called "patent cliffs" (sharp declines in revenues upon patent expiry), pharma firms in emerging markets see this as an opportunity.
"The age of mass patenting was in the end of 1980s – beginning of 1990s. Usually a patent is valid for 20 years, then the company can prolong it for 5 years. If we start the countdown from the 1990s, 25 years means they expire now," Mamunya explained, noting that thanks to generics both patients and producers will win.
"The pharmaceuticals industry – is not only about business, but also social responsibility. And if the generics production makes the treatment of some diseases cheaper, this will give hope to the dozens of thousands of Ukrainians," Mamunya said.
This was confirmed by a study of the four top emerging markets Brazil, Russia, India and China by global advisory firm PwC, which shows that projected new pharma spending in 2020 will go overwhelmingly toward generics.
"Our goal is to provide modern effective and high-quality drugs for an affordable price. Generics are the best way to achieve this goal. We are already on our way: 61 medicinal products are at the development stage at Darnitsa," Shymkiv said.