“Part of my competitors are not only the Novartis of the world, and the other pharmas, but really the Amazons and Googles,” he said. “Like any company, we need to think about where we invest and how we invest, and what is the right time to jump into the water.”
But the answer to the question is not straightforward, according to Peterburg, because different parts of the health-care industry are not moving at the same pace. “It’s very, very difficult, especially for incumbents, to find the right way and where to move,” he said. “That’s why we have to do it by collaboration maybe with start-ups, with small companies, and try to find the solution.”
Aside from competition from non-traditional players, in some markets, pharma companies also need to navigate regulatory hurdles. For example, in China, Peterburg said Teva has found it challenging to establish a foothold over the last few years.
“China is a challenge,” he said. “Teva was trying in the last — maybe not even few years — to go into China (and) I don’t think we’ve done a great job at this.”
The company has one manufacturing facility in the mainland, according to Peterburg, and it’s speaking with local pharma companies to try and find the right way to succeed in China’s vast market. Regulation is a big hurdle because it takes too long to pass, he said.
“It takes too long, even to register. Now remember, we have the biggest cabinet of drugs in the world. We really are part of the good guys. We are the generic ones. We can bring quality into this market but if the time to register a drug takes two, three, four, five years, it’s too long.”
— CNBC’s Christina Farr contributed to this report.