New Developments Combat Ebola Virus Outbreak

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is a “severe, often fatal disease… caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae.”(CDC website). There are five variants of the virus and four that can be contracted by humans.  It is transmitted through bodily fluid and can spread quickly due to interactions with a person who has contracted the disease. As you may have heard, there is an outbreak of the Ebola virus spreading from West Africa to other countries, including the United States.The initial report of the Ebola outbreak dates back to March 10, 2014, where the Ministry of Health in Guinea was notified. There were 20 patients who contracted the disease(NE Journal of Medicine). Five months later, it was reported that the Ebola virus has an outbreak in Western Africa. The countries include Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria,and Sierra Leone.

Country Confirmed and Suspected Fatalities % of Fatalilties
Guinea 495 367 74.14%
Liberia 554 294 53.07%
Nigeria 13 2 15.38%
Sierra Leone 717 298 41.56%
Information via CDC Website

The Ebola virus has been viewed as a fatal disease, with no apparent cure in the Pharmaceutical market. In light of the outbreak, the industry has been responding with viable options for an antiviral drug. There have been several drugs looked to combat this issue. It has been reported that two American workers contracted the disease while in Western Africa. There is an American experimental drug named ZMapp that was given to the two infected America workers. The drug has yet to be approved by the FDA and there has not been updates on the Americans conditions as of August 8, 2014.

There is hope for a drug developed by a Japanese company, Fujifilm’s subsidiary, Toyama Chemical Co. The drug is “a anti-influenza tablet called favipiravir.”(WSJ). It has been formally named Avigan and has been approved by Japan and other countries in March to treat influenza(Toyama-Chemical Co.) This drug is awaiting approval for trial testing to combat the deadly disease. If approved, it can treat the hundreds of Africans exposed to the disease and resume international business.

Japan is among the leading countries in the world, overall. With the development of the Ebola drug, companies could be headed to Japan, seeking innovative drug to administer throughout the market. The government has increased expenditures on health,in relation to total government expenditures, from 16.7 in 2002 to 19.4 percent.(GHO Data Repository) This illustrates an increase in interest in the healthcare industry.

The table below describes the Global pharmaceutical top markets. As shown, Japan ranks second in the industry. It is a strong competitor in the market and with further development it can sustain as a competitor. Other countries, like China, are emerging in the industry. Japan can sustain staying power by leveraging the integration of the the Avigan product.

2012​ ​ 2010
Country​ Rank​ $ (Mill)​ Growth
Rank $ (Mill)​ Growth (%)​
USA 1 326,892 -1 1 319,552 6
Japan ​ 2 112,067 0​ 2 96,355 7
China ​ 3 81,698​ 22 3 54,865 21
Germany​ 4 42,333 -6 4 42,181 2
France ​ 5 36,674 -8 5 38,529 -5
Brazil ​ 6 29,112 ​ -6​ 7 26,259 38
Italy 7 26,231 ​ -8 6 26,639 -2
Canada ​ 8 21,877 -2 9 21,655 13
UK ​ 9 21,635 0 10 20,297 2
Spain ​​ 10 19,935 -12​ 8 22,220 -2

The Avigan product can be a revolutionary drug to combat diseases that were once assumed to be fatal. Japan has the ability to sustain as a leading pharmaceutical country with developments like this.







Healthcare Spending in the US

On average, the US outspends its peer countries in healthcare by a large amount.  Almost 18 percent of GDP is spent on healthcare, which is 6% more than the Netherlands which is the next highest spender.  This amounts to about 1 trillion dollars, or $8000 per household. There are multiple reasons for this phenomenon.  First of all,  the US offers a more expensive range of services.  The US has a number of specialized healthcare providers which usually cost a bit more.  More amenities and quicker response time are all great perks, but they cost more as well.  Another reason for the more expensive mix in the U.S. is it produces more income for drug manufacturers, specialist physicians, and others who have considerable influence on policy. The price of branded prescription drugs are also about 2x the price of those in other countries.  

There are many other reasons for the increased prices as well, and economists are doing research.  Some hope the Affordable Care act will remedy these high costs in the long run, but nobody can predict for sure.



Taking artificial cardiac pacemakers to the next level

When the sinus node (the node in the heart that regulates the pace at which our heart beats) encounters a problem and starts to function incorrectly, it places our lives in great danger. In 1932, an American physiologist, Albert Hyman, created an ‘electro mechanical instrument’ that he called an artificial pacemaker. Over the years, that technology has been perfected to surgically implant a pacemaker that regulates the heart rate and keeps the heart functioning safely. According to an article by Medical News Today, around 300,000 patients receive artificial pacemaker implants every year in America alone. Worldwide, that number is over 600,000 with over three million people already implanted.

With better access to healthcare and more governments stepping in to support their citizens in healthcare payments, the pacemaker industry is growing at a steady pace. Pacemakers are usually priced anywhere from $20,000 to $45,000 and cost more to implant them via a complex surgery. That being said, the global artificial pacemaker industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and the supply chain of a pacemaker encompasses hundreds of companies from around the world. However, a new breakthrough by cardiologists from the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, CA may change the industry forever – and over a million hearts as well. The team surgically implanted a biological gene into the hearts of pigs with heart block only to discover the next day that the pigs had significantly higher heart beat rates.

While human trials are still three to five years away and there exists the possibility that this may never work safely in humans, it is still a significant threat to artificial pacemakers as the implanted gene is a ‘biological’ artificial pacemaker and the biological pacemakers are likely to come under immense scrutiny by the big players in the artificial pacemaker industry. One can only wait and see what will come of these pacemakers and the impact they will have on saving human lives, but for now, taking an optimistic stance is not a bad idea.

Kavin Chinnasamy

Elucidate Consulting

First Blog Post [Week 2, Team G]

Industry Overview

Recent Trends
Since the mid 1990’s, many pharmaceutical companies have been going through mergers and acquisitions of mid to large size companies.  Most have been biotech companies who focus on the development of products based on living cells.  Another large part of the merger trend has been companies that are trying to create technology that deals with the genetic makeup of humans.

The US market has become more and more popular among foreign companies because of the uncontrolled pricing structure, insurance reimbursement policies, government support for research, and very quick approval processes.  Foreign companies benefit from relocating to the US because they have the opportunity to advertise their product to the medical community as well as consumers which greatly increases awareness and consumption of the product.

When the Food and Drug Administration was restructured, it had a large impact on the pharmaceutical industry.  There was a large lobbying effort by the drug industry to decrease the time it takes to approve a new drug.  The average went from 2-3 years to less than one year which is a dramatic decrease.

The pharmaceutical industry is seeing seven new changes that are allowing the reshaping of the marketplace and are making way for major opportunities to arise:

  • Instances of chronic disease are increasing, placing even greater pressure on already stretched healthcare budgets
  • Healthcare policy-makers and payers are increasingly mandating what doctors can prescribe
  • A growing number of healthcare payers are measuring the pharmacoeconomic performance of different medicines. A widespread use of electronic medical records will give them the data they need to insist on outcomes-based pricing
  • Boundaries between different forms of healthcare are blurring, as clinical advances render previously fatal diseases chronic and the self-medication sector expands
  • Demand for medicines is growing more rapidly in the emerging economies than the industrialized economies
  • Governments are beginning to focus on prevention rather than treatment, although they have not yet invested very much in pre-emptive measures; and
  • Regulators are becoming more cautious about approving truly innovative medicines.

Market Potential
As the population of the world continues to rise, there is a higher demand for pharmaceutical drugs. As you can see the sales are significantly higher in 2020 than in 2011. The U.S., Japan, and China are among the among the many key countries in which the pharmaceutical industry is observing growing profits. Furthermore the U.S continues to dominate the industry followed second to the European countries.  Many Asian countries are focusing on outsourcing where India is a major outsourcing hub for research and devlopment. China is growing at double digit rate and will be third largest market.

Internationalization Strategies
Many companies are focusing on improving research and development efforts and productivity, and reducing costs of operating. Furthermore, many pharmaceutical companies are working on outsourcing and outsourcing business mode.


Stakeholder Analysis

Key Players
As of 2012, the top 10 leading countries in the industry were USA, Japan, China, Germany, France, Brazil, Italy, Canada, the UK, and Spain.

In emerging markets, governments want to expand access to treatment. But, drugs already account for a large share of health-care spending—44% and 43% in India and China respectively, compared with 12% in Britain and America. Out of all these countries, the United States is the home of most of the world’s big pharma, whose consumers pay the world’s highest prices for drugs and thus keep down prices for others. Recently, the US wants to use the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) to restrict such compulsory licences to infectious epidemics, while emerging-market countries want to make it harder for drug firms to win patents.

Potential Consumers
People older than 60 years consume the most pharmaceutical drugs. In addition, there is a rising market for the Latino population. Overall there is a boosting demand for drugs relating to cancer, diabetes, and other chronic ailments. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, “the number of adults at high risk of diabetes was 38.4 million in 1991 and 49.9 million in 2001. The total diabetes burden is anticipated to be 11.5% (25.4 million) in 2011, 13.5% (32.6 million) in 2021, and 14.5% (37.7 million) in 2031. Among individuals aged 30 to 39 years old who are not currently targeted for screening according to age, the prevalence of diabetes is expected to rise from 3.7% in 2001 to 5.2% in 2031. By 2031, 20.2% of adult Hispanic individuals are expected to have diabetes.


Join us next week as we discuss this industry’s interactions in different countries and continents!