"At Harmonium, we link the product portfolio with education, diagnosis and early prevention, following a strategy of direct communication with the patient."
Harmonium Pharma was founded in 2013 with an offer for the day-to-day management of diabetes. What is the market gap the company taps into?
Diabetes affects around 450 million people worldwide and it has huge cost implications for national healthcare systems; approximately 12% of total healthcare costs incurred by governments are related to diabetes. This is an awkward illness, with silent symptomatology and, when the signs appear, it is often too late. Harmonium Pharma is targeting an area complementary to what Big Pharma typically offers: besides the pharmacological therapy itself, chronic disease management also involves two other aspects: education and prevention. These are the areas where we position ourselves, seeking to create tighter links with the patient. Our products fall under three regulatory categories: medical devices, food supplements, and dermo-cosmetics, each developed in direct link with the diabetes community to cater to unmet needs such as preventing foot complications, hypoglycaemia, lipodystrophy, neuropathy, retinopathy, and improving quality of life.
Could you share more details about The Diabetic Corner, now present in 500 locations in Italy and 30 globally?
The Diabetic Corner is the brand under which our integrated offer of products and services is presented. This involves two layers of implementation: a territorial and a digital one. We have introduced the concept in Italy, where we have a large network of partner pharmacies, and also exported it abroad via our distribution partners. The Diabetic Corner is designed to be more than just a physical space in pharmacies; we envisioned it as a welcoming space dedicated to patients. For this reason, this is set up only in pharmacies with a patient-focused approach.
In my view, pharmacies are moving into two directions, some evolving as the first point of contact with the patient, focusing on advice, diagnosis and consultancy, and the other category is driven by aggregation factors and geographical location (city-center pharmacies are less likely to follow a patient-focused model). Our partner pharmacies are not just a place where the patient can pick up prescriptions, but also a space to receive advice from trained staff, or even attend screening events or activities to raise awareness about the disease.
Could you elaborate on the digital channel Harmonium Pharma uses? How is this leading to a more holistic approach involving patients and health providers?
At Harmonium, we link the product portfolio with education, diagnosis and early prevention, following a strategy of direct communication with the patient. Expanding on our territorial reach, our second implementation route is through digital channels including a portal (www.angolodeldiabetico.it), an app, and active social media participation – that connect us with a very large community of patients. Soon, we will be launching a telemedicine and diagnostics tool to enable remote consultations and the opportunity to gather data on both general clinical data like blood samples, urine tests, or electrocardiograms, as well as early detection of complications like retinopathy and neuropathy. Our role is certainly not to replace the endocrinologist or diabetologist but to intervene before the disease degenerates and leads to complications.
What has been the reception of your offering abroad, and what are the key international markets you target?
Overseas, we partner with synergic companies that are either present in the diabetes space or players focused on other therapies like dermatology or cardiology who want to enter the marketplace with a comprehensive product basket. In terms of our market channels, we leveraged our existing connections in the pharma industry, as well as using digital channels. Regulatory-wise, Europe is the lowest-hanging fruit; with products registered in one EU country, it is easier to ramify into another member state with a similar set of rules. Outside of Europe, each country holds its own surprises, so the registration process can be very easy or very complex. However, we rely on a strong record of bibliographical and clinical studies to prepare dossiers in different countries.
From a consumer perspective, our target markets are countries that meet the right balance between a large diabetes population and a high cost-of-living index, with a demographic that can afford out-of-pocket expenses. The Middle East has a high diabetes incidence rate of 25%-30%, and other large markets like China, the US, Mexico and Brazil are other obvious examples.
So far, our international portfolio has been limited to our product range but we shortly plan to extend our export offer to the digital strategy and the remote prevention and care program.