(i) Persist as generics manufacturers. In that eventuality their market shares would be a function of, on the one side, factors beyond their control, and alongside them, some matters over which they could exercise an influence. In the former group would fall: rates of innovation and introduction to market of new products by the innovative pharmaceutical firms; the lapse of protection for patented products; and public purchasing policies (though here it is possible that local firms could partly shape decisions). In the latter group come the national laws, the pharmaceutical register, and the application of good manufacturing practices. Naturally, local firms can always strive to manage better their own costs and their methods of using known technologies.
This option may take on a more favourable colour if regional agreements between countries (emerging countries and others) were to extend market size. Nevertheless, that approach would also heighten competition between local producers. While shares of regional markets could be higher for specific producers, but is hardly probable that the position of regional producers as a group would be strengthened.
(ii) Link up with innovative pharmaceutical firms. The standardisation process renders this approach neither easy nor likely to be widespread in the future. The considerations to bear in mind are:
• association with innovative pharmaceutical firms by means of licensing agreements will be an option progressively more limited in the future;
• it may be a viable route if an innovative pharmaceutical firms wants to fortify its local position as a supplier of generics, and the rules and incentives governing foreign direct investment make this an attractive bet;
• if the local firm shows itself to have useful assets relevant to R&D, as could be the case if it possessed knowledge about local biodiversity and/or a certain skill itself in R&D, then a linkage might be mutually interesting.
(iii) Start R&D. In our opinion this option, with all the risks it entails, ought to be studied very seriously by local firms which want to grow in the pharmaceutical field.
(iv) Improve the organisation of local industrial groups. This step is indispensable, both to ensure political influence and as an economical method of seeking funding and information. Though it is by no means simple to develop, even the best local firms will be vulnerable if it is not successfully done. The risks in the international pharmaceutical business tend to be higher than in most other branches and this is precisely because standardisation has had such a pronounced and special success in the field.