Pills background abstract

Turbulent might be the most apt word to describe the current state of European economies. So how is one of its core growth industries – pharmaceuticals – faring in the current climate? We talk pharmaceuticals with Augusto Mitidieri, CEO of Sintetica S.A., and winner of Business Worldwide’s CEO Awards 2017 in the category of Best CEO, Pharmaceutical Industries Europe.

Pharmaceuticals is one of Europe’s key industries, and forecasts by Evaluate suggest that the share of the pharma market across the EU will increase by 27% between 2015 and 2022.

There are challenges on the horizon, though, with competition from India and Brazil, long-term austerity measures, tighter regulation, scepticism about pricing and more recently the instability caused by the UK’s impending ‘Brexit’ from the EU, all causing concerns.

Despite this, pharmaceutical companies are performing well and investing more than ever before in research and development (R&D).

So what’s it like on the ground for one of Europe’s major pharmaceutical companies? Augusto Mitidieri, CEO of Sintetica S.A., a leading pharmaceutical company with sites across Europe, discusses the company, its values, and expectations for the future.

What are Sintetica’s areas of expertise as a pharmaceutical company?

Established in 1921 in Switzerland, Sintetica is a pharmaceutical company which delivers injectable anaesthetics and analgesics to patients worldwide, through innovative science and excellence in development, production and marketing.

Across Europe we employ a total of 230 people who originate from 25 different countries in the world.

Our sites are located in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and United Kingdom, and our headquarters are located in Mendrisio, Switzerland, where among others, our innovation department employees 15% of the total workforce.

The Swiss manufacturing sites of Mendrisio and Couvet have a production capacity of 25 million ampoules (ongoing expansion to 60 million), five million infusion bags and over five million vials. We are fully committed to innovating therapies and drugs for local anaesthesia, pain management and neuromodulation. We move forward with passion and competence, fully respecting both people and the environment.

All our efforts and resources are focused on becoming a leader in these fields through the development of new medicines and better treatment options for physicians and patients worldwide.

To achieve this leadership through innovation in the context of global growth, we consider strategic partnering and business development to be the key factors. We have built an agile and multicultural high-performing organisation to support both robust national growth and rapid global expansion, and accordingly we have adopted two separate business models. Our specialist sales teams in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the UK and Ireland directly promote and market our products, and our Global Division delivers our top medicines through a network of strategic international worldwide partners.

How did you get into the pharmaceutical sector?

I’ve been in this sector since 1996. I graduated at Politecnico di Milano in Management Engineering at the beginning of 1996. After a short time in the international marketing division of Pirelli Cables, I moved to Switzerland to begin my 20-year career in the Pharma sector; 17 of these have been with Sintetica.

My first role was as the Engineering and Validation Manager, progressing to Production Manager, Quality Assurance Manager, General Manager of Sintetica in 2003 and now  in 2011 Corporate CEO.

As Corporate CEO, I have complete responsibility over all the sites and affiliates of the company, and I see my role as defining the strategy and vision of the organisation, following the strategy implementation through to execution. Innovation is not only about the products, but also the management style and organisation. Getting this right has been one of the key elements of our success.

What is the current state of the pharmaceutical global market, and are there any challenges currently facing this sector?

The sector where we are active is extremely competitive globally. The presence of many generic treatment providers has driven price slumps together and also seen the transfer of production to countries with lower labour costs. We are successfully confronting this scenario through a ‘quality without compromise’ philosophy, by innovating drugs, services, solutions and a go to market approach.

How is Sintetica positioned in the global market?

We established our Global Division, our first international corporate structure, in 2011.  This division was tasked with pursuing international growth under two distinct models – a B2B licensing strategy and, somewhat later. a B2C strategy in selected markets.

Under the B2B model, we sought to license our top brands to partners with whom we shared values with our principle value being that people and relationships, including business relationships, come first. All our partners must meet strict ethical criteria and share our innovation-driven ‘quality without compromise’ value proposition. It has been the most critical and challenging task  we have faced since beginning our internationalisation efforts, but I am proud to say that we have been very successful.

To date, we have submitted more than 250 product registrations in over 100 different countries via the network of partners we have established over the last five years. The first phase of our expansion covered North, Central and South America, South East Asia, and North Africa.

A second phase, which will begin in the next five years, will target some of the more difficult markets like China and India. Many of these registrations have yet to come through, but so far we have seen strong growth in the US, and some promising returns in South Asia and the Pacific.

As a result of purchasing a German distributor in2013 we now have a solid presence in the German and Austrian markets, and last year we established a sales organisation to cover the UK and Ireland.

What is distinctive about how you work as a company? How does this way of working influence productivity and growth?  

Making Sintetica a great place to work is our belief and is part of our DNA. We consider our people to be our core resource. We believe in a culture which  promotes creativity, informed risk taking and a safe and comfortable feeling in our everyday work. Our company’s Code of Ethics and our quality/sustainability policy are the fundamentals of being a Sintetica employee, and we have taken these values to our global operations.

The reputation of Sintetica has remained unchanged over our 96 year history of working across both Europe and overseas, which is why I feel so proud to share this essential pillar of our very successful philosophy.

What are Sintetica’s plans as a company?

Our strategic plan (Strategia 2021), has recently been approved by the Board. The plan calls for the international commercial diffusion of innovation as the main lever for future growth.

Our Global Division is focusing on high-speed, robust partner selection and affiliation in all countries, offering a dynamic portfolio of selected branded medicines which have been developed to respond to unmet clinical needs and to build sustainable, long-lasting alliances.

Ultimately, executive projects to improve the manufacturing capacity of industrial sites in conjunction with pharmaceutical and clinical pipeline development are the major pillars to sustain dynamic midterm growth.