GSK's emerging-markets man has big plans

Just who is Abbas Hussain? We've heard a lot from the GlaxoSmithKline executive who's spearheading the company's push into emerging markets. And that push, of course, is one of Glaxo's primary strategies for growing sales as blockbuster drugs go off patent. But until now we haven't heard Hussain speak at length about his strategy.

Enter the Financial Times, which published an interview with Hussain this morning. His strategy emphasizes discounts, local manufacturing, volume sales, and partnerships with companies that offer a.) access to a broader portfolio of off-patent meds, and b.) rights to sell branded drugs in emerging markets.

The need for discounts is obvious: Alhough the market for healthcare products is growing in the developing world, patients still can't afford to pay top dollar. On top of price cuts, the company plans to sell smaller packs of meds to make them more affordable. Local manufacturing will help keep costs low, allowing Glaxo to maximize its margins. And the focus on volume--aided and necessitated by the lower prices--has worked so far, Hussain said; pilot price cuts have indeed boosted volumes.

"My preference is not a high price and 100 units of profit for 100 patients," Hussain told the FT, "but to drop the price and make 100 [units] of profit from 500 patients." No doubt we'll be hearing more from him as his strategy gets implemented; the big price cuts are set to roll out in the spring.

- see the FT interview
- get more on price cuts, also from FT

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