Latin America & Pharma


by DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

If you talked about Colombia a few decades ago in the United States, people thought of one of two things: drugs or coffee.

But since Alejandro and I founded Zemoga in 2002 as a bi-continental agency, with most of our personnel based in Bogota, weve joined the swell of people campaigning to change that musty old image and tell the world about the real Colombia – the Colombia of today and of the future. Here are just afew stats to prove my point:

  • Foreign investment in Colombia has grown 400% since Zemoga began.
  • The Colombian stock market has grown 14 times over since 2001.
  • Colombia became the second most business-friendly country in Latin America (behind Chile).
  • Merrill Lynch named Colombia the country with the lowest risk in the world in times of crisis.

It aint all about the stimulants anymore. Who needs cocaine or coffee when youre part of a country this exciting?

Obviously, we fully believe in the ability of our country and our region – Alejandros native one and my adopted one – to succeed in business, and especially in tech. But what about Colombias, and Latin Americas, ability in pharma? Could pharmaceutical companies mimic our business model?

There are certainly a few challenges that weand some others have pinpointed.

First, the region of Latin America doesnt move in sync regarding quite a few things – among them, regulatory requirements for drug development – so there are some regional opportunities for confusion that dont exist in U.S. states to the same degree.

Second, there is still that questionable reputation that our region holds in some circles. And, for a developer hoping for a rapid development process, “questionable is the very last thing that they want.

And third, the infrastructure isnt as developed here yet as it is in North America.

In my opinion, the governments will catch up when they see that the money is there to make it worth their while. Our reputation is improving by leaps and bounds. And the infrastructure? Well, as we move projects down there, the support structure for them will be built. In short: its all already happening now.

Immediately, what can we do to make all of this happen faster? Well, those of us who are already lucky enough to have a presence in Latin America can stop being selfish and start spreading the word! We can jump in and get involved whenever we see opportunities to expand the profile of our countries in the business and pharma spaces.

Were just coming off the incredibly success ofSocial Media Week Bogotɬ°, where hundreds and hundreds of people eagerly participated and took in all the knowledge the speakers had to offer including Jonathan Richmans great presentation, “Your Computer Is the Next Wonder Drug. These people didnt come from health care or pharma backgrounds, they were just excited to see where it could take them.

Can we bring pharmaceutical excitement and innovation to Colombia and Latin America as well? Only time will tell… but you can tell which side Im betting on.



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