Discussing trends linked to the Brazilian emerging market, the perpetual challenges associated with her function as Roche’s General Counsel and the upcoming perspectives for her company in the Latin America region, Sarah Chaia openly talks about her tasks and vision in a continuously evolving Brazilian market.
Sarah Chaia. The challenges for a General Counsel in Brazil are many, especially in the pharma sector. Brazilian legal environment is very complex from various standpoints: the legislation ‘per se’, the issuance of new rules such as the new civil process code, regulatory requirements, and litigation terms, among others.
Besides legal framework and technical issues, I believe that in house lawyers have to deeply understand business and our role is beyond just being strong lawyers, but also to act as business partners in order to provide better business solutions and avoid undue legal risks from the very beginning. In a country like Brazil, the success of a legal department depends on how much it understands business as well as its capability to perform in a very preventive manner.
Leaders League. In your vision, what are the trends and issues of the health sector in Brazil?
S.C. The key trend in emerging markets, including Brazil, is that innovation in health care has been associated with costs and access. In that sense, access to new technologies is an issue since which shall be addressed as a government priority, but taking into account long-term sustainability, equity maintenance and universal access for the population in the case of Brazil.
The biggest challenge for the company is to assure that the whole population of Brazil gets access to our innovative products. We are ready to work with the authorities to provide solutions to improve access to innovation. Beyond that, Brazil is an important market for Roche and with a manufacturing presence; Roche is capable of supplying products to the patients who need them in Brazil and especially to Latin America.
Leaders League. How do you see the future of Roche in Brazil and in Latin America?
S.C. We have a positive perspective for the next years. Brazil, for example, is a country with more than 200 million inhabitants. The population is getting older, the life expectancy has increased and the investments in non-communicated diseases such as cancer are in the government agenda.
Besides all of this, recently, Roche announced the investment of R$300 million (about €87m) in its Rio de Janeiro plant to upgrade its manufacturing facility and corresponding infrastructure over five years. The Rio site is part of Roche’s global manufacturing network and this investment reiterates Roche’s commitment to Brazil as a base for the Latin American operation. The investment will enable the Rio site to continue to meet the increasing health authority expectations, and to potentially expand supply of products beyond the LatAm region.