U.S. pharmaceutical companies: making a presence in the Latino market.

Safety problems roil pharma and FDA; blockbuster drugs turns out to be risky business, while contamination problems shut down flu vaccine production.The continuing trend of growing diversity is becoming such a front line issue in mainstream America that is forcing a change in attitudes all across the board. Companies are beginning to realize that more than a need to be politically correct, there are tremendous opportunities, and underlying advantages, inherently tied to catering to these ever expanding group.

In the field of healthcare, companies are beginning to offer services and products that a better gauged to solve the specific problems of these minority groups, One of the companies pioneering these efforts is AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical conglomerate born out of the merging of Swedish Astra AB and British Zeneca Group PLC of the UK in 1999. We spoke with one of the company's top executives in order to find out about their specific efforts to address the Latino community.

Catherine M. Bonuccelli, MD, VicePresident, External Scientific Affairs, AstraZeneca

What current initiatives is AstraZeneca, AZ, implementing that arespecifically geared towards reaching the Hispanic market?

As a pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca recognizes it is important to supply consumers with complete and accurate information. We realize that members of underserved communities, such as Latinos, often face challenges in accessing healthcare and we have a number of initiatives underway to address this need in the Latino community. For example, we have translated product materials into Spanish, which are available as leave behinds in doctors' offices, and we have created electronic promotions for products such as NEXIUM[R] (esomeprazole magnesium), in Spanish.In addition to translating product information, AstraZeneca is committed to raising awareness and educating Latinos about diseases and treatment options. For example, AstraZeneca has worked to develop a targeted and culturally relevant asthma education and screening program for children with related web sites through the program., a Spanish version of, is a web site designed specifically for parents and families who have children with breathing problems. This online and off-line program represents a grassroots outreach and education effort targeting pediatric asthma in the Latino community.

Additionally, AstraZeneca sponsors other outreach activities targeting the Latino community such as education and screening programs for various diseases including hypertension and breast cancer. AstraZeneca is a sponsor of Dia de la Mujer Latina, a program that promotes awareness to the underserved Latino community with ethnic-specific education, screening, and preventive care. We also support initiatives within the Latino community such as the Somos El Futuro Conference that bring together a cross section of New York's Latino community to discuss policy and legislative issues of concern to Latinos.

What are the main diseases currently affecting the Hispanic population in the US? What type of research, if any, is AZ developing to address these diseases?

At AstraZeneca, understanding how our medicines affect all kinds of patients is of paramount importance. Clearly, we know that the Hispanic population is dispropotionately affected by diseases such as diabetes and broader health issues such as metabolic syndrome. Given that cholesterol management is critical to treating both these problems, we have created a specific clinical trial called STARSHIP to evaluate CRESTOR[R] (rosuvastatin), our cholesterol lowering drug, in the Hispanic population. We are also looking at ways to increase the participation of Hispanic patients in clinical trials for some of our other pharmaceutical products in development, in order to ensure that this important segment of the patient population is represented appropriately.

How can AZ's pharmacological advances benefit the Hispanic population in general?

The Hispanic population has traditionally been under-represented in clinical trials for many drugs. When we get the results of the clinical trail involving CRESTOR--STARSHIP--we will have more information on how this population is affected by statin therapy, and specifically how well CRESTOR worked. It is our hope that as we continue to develop new pharmaceutical products for disease such as diabetes and cancer, we will enhance our knowledge and provide the medical community with more in depth information about this important patient population.

Why should Latinos choose AZ products over the competitor's brands?

AstraZeneca is dedicated to improving the quality of people's lives through innovative products and we have a clear focus that the ultim and all individuals to take charge of their healthcare options and improve their healthcare outcomes.