ONE thing you need to understand before setting up a pharma business in CEE (Central Eastern Europe)


CEE region is just a geographical view. A synonym for several countries that have little in common. Except for Poland and Romania, the states are primarily small. Also, from a historical and cultural perspective, every country is unique. This synonym does not reflect the reality of the market, customers, culture, mentality, and rules.

Related to this are, for example, differences between countries in the gross domestic product or economic growth. Each country also has a different approach to critical policies, such as healthcare.

No doubt, this very complex territory with lots of diversity represents an immense business potential, but to succeed here, you must THINK multi-LOCAL and ACT multi-LOCAL in key areas:

  • Understanding local rules and regulations, cultures, and languages are essential.
  • Local presence: legal entities and infrastructure are crucial.
  • The pricing policy strategy must consider that GDP per capita and healthcare per capita are lower than in EU 15.
  • Individual governments struggle with securing healthcare under the given economic conditions. It results in frequent changes in local rules, regulations, stakeholders’ structure, and implementation of cost savings tools, e.g., regular price and reimbursements revisions and re-evaluations, implementation of the claw back tax, or growth discount in some markets. The payers regularly revise their decisions based on real-life data, thus, sustainability is the most crucial aspect.
  • The focus on the patient-payer-(prescriber) relationship must be perceived depending on the particular country and its culture. The relationships with stakeholders are different as well as reimbursement policies. From the patient’s point of view, the most important aspect is whether and how the drug is available in a given country.
  • Be flexible.
  • Engage with highly competent and motivated people. It is not about quantity – it is about quality!
  • Tailor the communication to local culture and standards.
Katarina Galova, MD, Ph.D., General Manager,CEE