Mar. 16, 2021


Ricardo de Andrés

Spain

Ricardo de Andrés

Country Manager, ICU Medical

“Cybersecurity also applies to patients’ medical records and protecting the health of the most critical patients who are attached to a machine.”

BIO

Ricardo de Andrés has developed his entire professional career in the healthcare industry. He joined Abbott Laboratories in 1979 and after going through different positions in sales as representative and sales manager he moved to Marketing to launch the first generation of IV pumps in Spanish market and reinforce the overall IV therapy products range. Later, he was promoted to Business Unit Manager of Medical Devices at Abbott. Following the spin-off of Hospital Products Division from Abbott in 2004, he was named Country Manager of the new created company Hospira. Hospira added to their medical devices portfolio pharma products, mostly generics and biosimilars to become a full healthcare company. In 2015 Hospira was acquired by Pzifer focused on pharma business whereas Medical Devices was acquired by ICU Medical in 2017. Since then Ricardo is the Country Manager of ICU Medical in Spain.


ICU Medical, founded in 1984, has become a benchmark in the development, manufacture, and sale of medical devices used in vascular therapy, oncology, and intensive care applications. How has ICU Medical evolved since its founding, and what are company's mission and vision?

ICU Medical was founded in San Clemente, California, in 1984. In 1979, I joined an American multinational with several divisions where I developed myself professionally until 2002, when ICU Medical contacted us to distribute its products in Spain. At that time, I was manager of the medical devices business unit, and I put my faith in ICU Medical because it had highly innovative products. In the end, we became the exclusive distributors of ICU Medical in Spain. In 2004, we separated from it and set up a fully independent company in Spain called Hospina. The company, which was dedicated to medical devices, started to grow exponentially to the point that, in 2016, we caught the eye of Pfizer for the biosimilars and biogenerics business, which eventually acquired us. I joined Pfizer as a member of the steering committee, but Pfizer focused primarily on Pharma and Medical Devices business unit was acquired by ICU Medical in 2017.
We are a small company, with 32 people in Spain.

What is the general breakdown of products and solutions you offer?

In our business, one-third are infusion pumps, which is an Abbott product that ICU Medical acquired. 70% of the device comes directly from ICU Medical. They are closed systems for the administration of hazardous drugs, not only for patients, but for health personnel, pregnant women, and so on who need special protection. ICU Medical was one of the pioneers in both the manufacturing and selling of intravenous administration closed systems, which are gravity systems.

ICU Medical was named one of the 100 Most Trusted Companies in America by Forbes Magazine. What differentiates ICU from other companies in the industry?

Safety, though above all our commitment to intravenous therapy from the point of view of innovation and manufacturing. In addition, what we have brought to the table is marketing. ICU Medical's board of directors consists of nurses, doctors, and so on; they are people who work with the product. However, if I had to pinpoint what makes ICU Medical different from other multinationals, it would be its innovation, product quality, and commitment to the people who work at ICU Medical in the field of intravenous therapy.

How has ICU Medical faced the pandemic, and what strategy has it followed?

In that first week of March, I was starting to worry because the data was disturbing, and no measures had been taken. I thought it was time to make decisions. I cancelled meetings and stopped people from going to hospitals or the office. We rolled out a remote work plan. What happened thereafter were rewarding experiences, both positive and negative. On the positive side, our strategy worked. In other words, virtual meetings were possible, and the company's invoicing, customer service, and distribution system worked flawlessly. From the outset, we continued to supply products to our customers. However, one challenge was our sales network of 20 people, of whom 90% are in contact with customers. Now that we had time, we decided to reinvent ourselves and further analyze our ways of working, analytical skills, and knowledge of the products. From there, we structured a global program that would provide content to eight hours of work. Then, from a business point of view, we realized the critical care, infusion pump business had skyrocketed. Our competitors were also trying their best to supply pumps, but there were not enough pumps on the market. The priority, therefore, was to satisfy critical infusion pump needs, because it was related to patients who needed intravenous therapy urgently. The other part of our business, related to surgery, resuscitation, and so on, dropped because the pandemic came first, and surgeries were put on hold. In the end, there was a balance. We closed 2020, from a results perspective, as we had planned.

4.5% of ICU Medical's sales gross income goes toward R&D. How important is innovation for the company?

What sets this company apart from others is its impetus to innovate and provide clinical solutions. That 4.5% that is set aside for R&D is transformed into new products, and right now we are focused on infusion pumps. It is not a device that can be programmed for drug administration, but it helps prevent medication errors. We want to focus on minimizing medication errors in intravenous therapy. In that regard, ICU Medical is much more advanced than the competition in terms of smart pumps. These devices come with a software called MedNet, which is connected to a drug library. Ultimately, it issues reports locating the errors in order to try to correct them. Another issue that we are extremely interested in, and in which we are pioneers, is cybersecurity, which is highly undervalued. When everyone thinks of cybersecurity, they think of bank accounts, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. However, the pumps can be monitored, and a hacker can alter a patient's dose with a cellphone and kill them. Cybersecurity also applies to patients' medical records and protecting the health of the most critical patients who are attached to a machine. We have been making considerable efforts in this area for many years, though the problem is that there is still a lack of understanding as to what this could mean as far as administration is concerned. Currently, we are the only ones that are certified. Right now, the main priority in terms of infusion pumps is the safety of the device, ensuring they are accurate in terms of administration, easy to use, and so on.

What is ICU Medical's main priority for 2021?

Safety is the main priority for us all in the industry. This pandemic has showed us that our work really matters. Now, people realize the importance of having these systems because they help healthcare professional to save lives. The primary goal is to save lives. The second, from a business perspective, is to continue consolidating the ICU Medical brand in Spain as one of the most widely recognized.