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David MonteithDavid Monteith is currently associate vice president and head of emerging markets pharmaceutical development at Merck & Co.

With the emerging markets making up approximately 85 percent of the world’s population and given the steadily rising wealth and improving business environment in many of these markets, it is no surprise that many pharmaceutical companies are turning to these regions as the source of near-term growth. Current estimates have as much as 90 percent—or $165 billion over the next five years—of future pharmaceutical growth coming from the emerging economies of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and other regions of the world.

As companies increase their focus on these markets, there are complex questions to answer around which products to develop, what form to make the products available in for each region, and how to compete with other available treatment options. For example, dosage forms may need to vary due to cultural or social differences in the way people use medicines. Major pharmaceutical companies today compete principally at the very top of the world’s economic pyramid, developing highly innovative new pharmaceutical products. These are essential developments, but they come at a high price and generally are only accessible and/or affordable in areas of high wealth around the world. Although wealth in many of the world’s emerging economies is steadily growing, the vast majority of the world’s population cannot afford these new medicines and look toward cheaper alternative treatments instead.

It is here where pharmaceutical companies need to make choices on what product mix to provide if they are going to compete in these growth markets. The March AAPS Newsmagazine cover article, Adapting Pharmaceutical Products for the Complex Needs of the Emerging Markets, will consider some of the unique and challenging aspects of product and dosage form development for the emerging markets. The article was developed by the Formulation Design and Development section. Read the article and then participate in the discussion question below.

Discussion Point: What do you see as the major challenges and barriers to pharmaceutical industry growth in the emerging markets? How can products be better designed or customized for patients in the emerging markets?