Italfarmaco, an Italian-owned company, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Spain. How has the company evolved over these 30 years?
Italfarmaco broke into Spain in 1991 as the first step of the internationalization of the group, a multinational company formerly founded in Italy in 1938. Since then, we have continued to expand our internationalization processes and are now present in South America, North America, the main European markets, Africa, the Middle East, and some Asian countries. Spain was the spearhead of the internationalization process of Italfarmaco and settled the business model used in later branches of the group.
How important is the Spanish market in the group's major expansion?
The Spanish market is one of the most important pharmaceutical markets in Europe. For us, the Spanish subsidiary is fundamental because it is one of the main subsidiaries within the group right now, in terms of size and results. Together with Italy, it is fully integrated into the pharmaceutical value chain because both have R&D, manufacturing, and marketing.
What is the group's mission and vision, and where would you like to see Italfarmaco in the next 30 years?
We would like to build on the work we have been doing for the last 30 years. We are a laboratory with an extremely clear market orientation, which has enabled us to focus on commercial excellence and identify patients' needs. Once these needs have been identified, we try to address them through our own R&D projects or by partnering with other pharmaceutical companies.
In Spain, Italfarmaco has launched Deltius, a drug for patients at high risk of vitamin D3 deficiency. What can you tell us about Deltius and other projects in the pipeline?
Deltius consists of cholecalciferol in vials, drops, and capsules. This is a drug that we have been working on for some time but was, mainly because of the pandemic, developed much faster because of the news about suitable Vitamin D levels helping patients cope better with the virus. Regarding other projects, we have an extremely diverse portfolio as a result of our own research and some long-term international partnerships we have signed with multinationals. One of our priorities for 2021 is to restore normality to our commercial and industrial activity. We are an active company that is continuously developing and commercializing new medicines; therefore, we are trying to make up for lost time with some launches. We just launched Demilos 2000, a drug with calcium and cholecalciferol for treating osteoporosis. Moreover, we have a new formulation of one of our classic products, Natalben, in the field of women's health, in which we are leaders in Spain.
How did Italfarmaco cope during the hardest period of the pandemic?
From the outset, as health professionals, we were aware of the scale of the situation and acted with a certain anticipation of issues that we knew were coming. Because our headquarters are in Milan, we were able to anticipate the tide that would be impossible to stem once activated. The first measures were to reduce commercial activity due to the number of limitations placed on the work of our representatives. Our sales force had to reinvent themselves during the worst months of the pandemic. We then immediately activated the whole activity of the factory. During the first few weeks, there was a huge surge in demand due to the “stockpiling effect," and we were working triple shifts seven days a week for several months to avoid running out of our essential products and prevent issues along supply chains in advance. We are now trying to return to normal, because after that peak there was a readjustment in terms of demand. In our offices, we were complying to all measures to ensure the safety of our employees, one of our main concerns. In fact, we have received a quality seal from the Community of Madrid in recognition of the measures we have implemented. We have had no shortages of any product, and, in addition, we have made many donations of PPE to hospitals and nursing homes, where we have also donated essential products during the hardest months of the pandemic.
How important is R&D for Italfarmaco?
For us, it is fundamental; the group invests almost 10% of turnover in R&D. Specifically, we have cutting-edge research projects in the area of oncology, rare diseases, and different therapeutic areas that will be launched in the coming years and are currently in the final stages of clinical development. In particular, one of them is for Duchenne disease, for which we have a new molecule with promising results in our clinical trials.
The industry in Spain broke its export record in 2020, placing pharmaceuticals as the fourth most exported product in the country. How is Italfarmaco dealing with the large increase in exports?
We have a factory in Spain where we manufacture products for the group and third-party companies. From our plant in Alcobendas, we are exporting to more than 30 countries, including America and China. Our customers range from national companies to large multinationals, and what we export mainly from this factory is finished product. We export to most European countries where we have a subsidiary, to Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, and to many countries in Asia.
What are the Italfarmaco group's main objectives for 2022?
We are working on restoring normalcy in commercial and industrial activity. We have come from having extremely volatile demand in the last few months, and now it is stabilizing again. On the other hand, we have investment projects in the strategic areas that we need to reinforce, and we want to recover the volume of new product launches. Finally, we are part of Farmaindustria's initiative to strengthen industrial plants in Spain to avoid excessive dependence on other countries. We are also part of Farmaindustria's Strategic Projects for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE), while identifying other opportunities to obtain European funding.