Portugal is becoming the prime destination as a TEST-BED market for Health and Pharma companies

Portugal is becoming the prime destination as a TEST-BED market for Health and Pharma companies

Portugal has forged a name for itself in terms of early adoption of new technology and ideas; making the country a prime destination for clinical trials as well as a market in which multinational pharma companies can trial innovative new treatments before rolling them out across the continent. 

  • One of the first Western European countries to make e-prescriptions mandatory in 2011;
  • the second country worldwide after Canada to introduce an HTA (SiNATS);
  • Portugal became one of the first countries worldwide to treat possession of small quantities of drugs as a public health issue, instead of a criminal matter. 

This creative and out-of-the-box thinking nature manifests itself in life sciences, where Portugal is the benchmark for healthcare digitalization in Europe, and both the talent pool and the infrastructure combine to create an attractive setting for the trial of new ideas in a controlled, well-prepared environment that has adequate tools and flexibility to find solutions.

The industry and government alike have cottoned onto Portugal’s potential to be Europe’s laboratory, as Ana Teresa Lehman, a former government official explains:   “We are a small country, but we are highly-developed and ready to accept new technology;   indeed, we are a fertile ground for experimentation and a test-bed for tomorrow’s technology.   Our crucial policy is to prioritize innovation through experimentation which will drive growth across the industry.”    Moreover, as Novartis CEO adds “Novartis has the right ecosystem in Portugal for trying new models and approaches.”

Francisco del Val, Sanofi´s Portuguese CEO articulates “in a small country such as Portugal, with four reference centers, and all the patients concentrated in one place, it is the perfect laboratory to conduct clinical trials.”  Del Val continues, “to effectively carry out tests; we need to monitor patient outcomes, we need a strong patient registry, real-world evidence, and a strong dataset; we find all of this in Portugal and therefore establishing these initiatives is more straightforward in Portugal.”

A fellow first-time country manager also hailing from Spain and therefore well qualified to compare and contrast operations across Iberia, Alnylam’s Alicia Folguera Lopez points out that “In Portugal, the system is incredibly centralized whereas Spain is renowned for its decentralized processes. Portugal is an exciting country to develop commercially because it is well organized in reference centers.”

Janssen’s managing director, Felipa Costa justifies that “more and more companies begin to see the value of testing out new and digital ideas because of the mitigated risk associated with our relative size and expertise in complex fields.” Filipe Paias, general manager for Baxter agrees, “Portugal is a fantastic test-bed country. The way that we overcome these challenges is the benchmark for bigger countries. We can therefore test and mitigate part of the solution in Portugal, a smaller market, before scaling up to larger markets.

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