Established 44 years ago in Spain, the US multinational BD has become a leader in medical devices. Can you provide an overview of the company's evolution in Spain?
The company was established in Spain 44 years ago. We first opened offices in Madrid, and soon after that we opened the manufacturing facility in San Agustin de Guadalix. Then, we acquired an existing manufacturing plant in Fraga, in the community of Aragon. We are also present in Portugal, and in 2015 we acquired CareFusion. Through that operation, we went from a USD8-billion revenue to USD12 billion. We then acquired Bard in 2017, with which we entered the world of surgery. These two companies provide products and services that are complementary to ours so we can offer more integrated solutions to patient care.
BD has a wide range of services and solutions. How would you divide this portfolio?
Broadly speaking, we have products and solutions in healthcare covering all the continuum of patient care, including research about diseases and treatments, diagnosis, treatment, and the monitoring of these treatments. For diagnosis, particularly, we have solutionsfor infectious diseases and for in-vitro testing. In cancer, we have products for the diagnosis of lymphomas and cervical cancer. And for treatment administration, we have many devices to administer drugs such as syringes, catheters, and infusion pumps. We have devices that are involved in the entire process to supply medication to patients. And finally, we have legacy Bard® products, mainly for chirurgical/surgical treatments. We have syringes for biopsies, as well as several products for chirurgical interventions. One area in which we are stronger in is patient safety; BD has excellent solutions to prevent and control infections in hospitals and for medical errors prevention. As well we have very advanced solutions for sepsis and diabetes, among others.
What impact has the pandemic had in your operations?
We have been operating 24/7, at full tilt. We have had some COVID-19 cases among our employees, though we did not disrupt our manufacturing processes. We have seen an increase in demand for some products due to the pandemic, such as infusion pumps, for example. On the other hand we also saw a decrease for some surgeries what impact us negatively. As well there has been a huge increase in the needs of syringes due to the vaccine, and we are investing to meet the demand for these products. We are developing new products, hiring more teams, and increasing our manufacturing capacity. We are also being flexible and doing things faster than before. We are an international company; therefore, our factories manufacture to provide services worldwide. We also implemented a policy for remote work for office employees as soon as the virus began to spread in Spain. However, our workers that had to visit hospital staff continued to go to hospitals, and we are implementing personal protection measures to prevent infections.
BD produces the most efficient syringes for the COVID-19 vaccine. Can you provide some of the characteristics of your syringe?
This one was developed based on the characteristics that the syringe should have for massive vaccination campaigns defined by the CDC. It is a syringe that is easy to use. The needle is integrated into the syringe, so healthcare workers do not need to manipulate it too much. Other key feature is that there is a piece in the top of the plunger that allows that all the vaccine is injected into the patient do there is low dead space and it facilitates the use of 15% more of vaccine that it is not discarded once the syringe has been used. It is a useful product that has made a difference during this time, because it can be used quickly and makes more efficient use of the vaccine possible.
BD has invested EUR1.5 million in the Fraga factory in order to fulfill orders. It will increase its capacity from 24,000 to 38,000 pallets. What are your production plans?
Our investment was made for a line of production of that syringe. In Spain we have three plants: in San Agustin, Fraga, and Almaraz. In the last five years, we have invested EUR140 million in Fraga, and there are many large projects that we are trying to bring to Spain, especially now with the European recovery funds. We have invested EUR40 million in the last few years in the plant of San Agustin, and we will invest EUR20 million more in the coming years. We have some products in Spain that are only manufactured here for the entire world, so we are very proud of that. We also have a heavily automated warehouse. We expect to continue increasing our production in Spain and bring more products into the country.
What are some of your key priorities for 2021?
The main thing is for the entire team is to continue to remain healthy. These are difficult times, so we are implementing programs to maintain high levels of safety. We want to increase our current levels of production to be able to comply with the growing demand. In addition, we want to remain flexible. Apart from the syringes, we also have COVID-19 tests and other products such as infusion pumps that are helping to contribute to resolve this pandemic. Those products are our focus on the short run. In 2020, our revenue was EUR220 million, and in 2019 it was around EUR250 million.. Even though if during 2020 we have had success with many products that deal with COVID-19, such as our syringe, these are cheap products and the slowdown of other medical procedures has affected our other business. We have many products and solutions prepared for the future that focus on digitalization and achieving better results for health.