SteinCares and Sandoz: Bringing high-quality healthcare products to Colombia

Market Access
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Recently, pharmaphorum spoke with Sebastian Katz, chief strategy officer of specialty healthcare company Stein Holding Group (SteinCares), to discuss the announcement of its licensing agreement with Sandoz to commercialise and distribute the pharmaceutical company’s portfolio of high-quality healthcare products to patients in Colombia.

For over 40 years, Costa Rica-founded SteinCares has specialised in commercialising and distributing specialty healthcare products throughout Latin America, including innovative pharmaceuticals, biosimilars, and complex generics. 

Following a direct equity investment from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, this latest deal with Sandoz seeks to synergise the portfolios of both companies to generate added value for Colombian patients and the healthcare system. 

SteinCares serves as a bridge between pharmaceutical companies and regional wellness providers, with a presence in more than 30 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The first company to commercialise biosimilars in Central America and Ecuador, SteinCare’s current portfolio has more than 500 products in the countries it services, including for the therapeutic areas of gastroenterology, orphan diseases, rheumatology, infectious diseases, and nephrology.

A growth journey to providing cost-effective healthcare for patients

Effective since 1st July 2023, the licensing agreement with Sandoz further strengthens SteinCares’ position in the Latin American market. Colombia now becomes the leading subsidiary within the group, positioning SteinCares to achieve in excess of $50 million in sales in the country by next year, while driving Sandoz’s growth in the region in therapeutic areas such as haematology, central nervous system (CNS), and oncology.

It has been a considerable growth journey for Stein Holding Group. And SteinCare’s chief strategy officer, Sebastian Katz, who has around 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, joined the company in 2016, initially as head of business development, guiding it into commercialisation.

“What we have done, from 2016 to now, is to add more products into our portfolio, complex products, innovative products,” Katz said. “We brought a tremendous amount of savings to the health systems in our region. We also brought complex generics and orphan drugs.”

“Then, in that process, we also spread it,” he continued. “Geographically, we grew our footprint in Latin America from a few countries in Central America to right now, all over Latin America […] I would say that we grew our sales four times [from] 2016 to now [and] 80% of our sales come from products that we launched in the last five years. That tells you a little bit about the turnaround in the portfolio.”

“Because of [our] credentials of being first to market with many biosimilars and generic products, we were selected by Sandoz to do this transaction in Colombia,” he explained. “They decided to license their entire portfolio [and the] Colombia market is a competitive market; it’s a very interesting and a very logical fit for us to have this transaction.”

The importance for Latin America and its patients

Katz explained that Latin America is “a very sub-attended territory” when it comes to pharmaceutical products, as the economic conditions and fragmented market are difficult for companies to navigate.

“Latin America is around 30 countries, all of them with different health systems, different dynamics, different structures,” he said. “You have to register your products in each of those countries. There is no mutual recognition of anything. It’s not like Europe, and there is no centralised procedure for anything. That implies a lot of effort for a fragmented territory and unstable from an economic standpoint. When you put all this together, the result is that not many or not all the pharmaceutical companies come to Latin America.”

“Our mission, our purpose is to become a bridge between those companies and the Latin American market, with their patients and with their health systems, and to bring innovation and to bring those opportunities to our markets,” Katz continued. “These are the markets where we were born, where we operate, and where we have all our operations on a day-by-day basis. We are not the subsidiary of a European company or an American company.”

“The healthcare market in Colombia is attended, not through a national social security system, but to different many private players […] called EPS,” Katz additionally explained. “What we do, and I think that one of the things that we do right, is that we try to get to the patients with the right value proposal in terms of what do they need. We help the patient associations. Right now, we are in close contact with a patient association in rheumatoid arthritis.”

“We want to be the option for companies that may see Latin America as a place that is complicated,” Katz concluded. “We want to bring the possibility to them, with the value proposal, with a one-stop shop solution for them to make their lives easier. Also, on the other hand, to be able to bring those products to Latin American patients and to the Latin American health systems. For us, that's the purpose of our company. That's our mission.”

“This transaction with Sandoz is a logical part of our expansion strategy,” he said. “We're very thankful to Sandoz and to all our other partners.”

SteinCares is presently actively venturing into high-potential markets, such as Brazil and Mexico, underscoring the company's commitment to enhancing healthcare access and supporting the well-being of Latin Americans overall.