Alleviating suffering and improving the quality of human life is an ambitious responsibility. Charalambos Pattihis, CEO of Cyprus based pharmaceutical company, Remedica, explains his company vision for fulfilling this aim.
Cyprus based pharmaceutical company, Remedica, has evolved through many development changes throughout its 60 years. From humble beginnings as a carbon dioxide manufacturing company founded by the father of the current CEO, Remedica’s product range now consists of more than 300 generic, branded generic and over-the-counter products which are exported to more than 100 countries. From five state of the art factories the company specialises in anti-cancer medicines, antibiotics including penicillins and cefalosporins, hormones and therapies for HIV/AIDS and drugs to treat conditions of the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Here, Charalambos Pattihis, tells us more about his innovative business, its success and plans for the future.
Could you give us a brief insight into the history of Remedica, when it was founded, and how the company has evolved to become a leader in today’s pharmaceutical environment.
Founded by my father in 1960 under the trading name of T.Ch. Pattichis (manufacturing chemists) the business was originally established as a carbon dioxide manufacturer primarily dealing with preservatives in soft drinks. Aerosols and cosmetics were gradually added to the range, followed by pharmaceuticals during the mid-1960s.
In 1971 operations were transferred to a newly-registered private company under the name Pattichis Chemical company Ltd and based in our current location, a purpose-built premises in Limassol, Cyprus. The business underwent a major expansion in 1980 when it gave its rights to a new company, named Remedica, for the manufacture of generic pharmaceuticals. From here, growth was rapid, both in terms of buildings and equipment as well as the development of a wider range of products and licensing deals.
Through a selected network of representatives, Remedica now exports its pharmaceutical products to more than 100 companies, it has received many industry awards and treats millions of patients worldwide. In 2016 Remedica was placed under the ownership of Ascends Health Ltd, a health care group quoted on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange
Taking over at the helm of a company with personal family origins is a great responsibility. Can you tell us more about life at the heart of such a successful organisation?
The role of CEO of any global organsation is one which will always face ongoing challenges head on and equally my position within Remedica bears a combination of responsibilities. I believe that we have a duty not only to our stakeholders, our 600+ employees and our agents in the various countries we operate in, but also to our suppliers who depend on Remedica and to society in general including the patients who use our products.
My role demands dedication and commitment to a lengthy working week. It’s certainly not a 9 to 5, five day a week role. However, in terms of social contribution it is an extremely rewarding position. There’s an immense sense of fulfilment in working with a team which plays a prominent part in areas such as donations, sponsorships, scholarships and supporting innovation in various fields.
In terms of Remedica’s success, what are you most proud of?
First and foremost, I’m proud of all my colleagues as they are the ones who make everything happen! I believe that the success of a company largely reflects the quality of its people. Having a highly experienced, reliable and professional team who passionately share the vision of the company will always be a key factor in the growth and success of the company and I’m delighted to work alongside a group of such hard-working individuals. There are of course other important elements which contribute to success, but I do think that having the right kind of people is the first step.
Secondly, I’m also extremely proud of our new factory dedicated to the manufacture of anti-cancer products. This represents a significant investment, resulting in an impressive state-of-the-art facility which houses its own production, packaging, storage, research and development facility. I believe that the unique nature of our new modern facilities gives us a firm competitive advantage over other companies since few have the ability to produce anti-cancer products.
Thirdly, I am proud of Remedica’s social contribution and especially the work undertaken by the ‘Remedica Volunteer’ project which organises and participates in events within the health, education and charity sectors.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
I would say that my biggest achievement to date has been Remedica’s transformation from a small pharmaceutical company with around 50 people into a large, international and well-respected company that exports to over 100 countries worldwide, employs more than 600 people in Cyprus (plus additional people abroad) and is considered a leading manufacturer of generic pharmaceutical products.
The company enjoyed rapid growth from the mid-90s and I started organising it into various departments headed by a competent manager, put in place systems, invested heavily in buildings / equipment / technology as well as people, whilst remaining loyal to our main principle: “Quality – Service – Value”.
However, I recognise that this achievement must also be shared with my colleagues who, over the years, have contributed with their smart and diligent work and, most importantly, my father, who founded the company all those years ago. I would also like to state that we’ve had enjoyed collaborating and meeting interesting people from all over the world and establishing long-lasting friendships.
Remedica’s growth and success obviously owes a lot to effective and efficient ways of working. Can you describe your leadership style?
Broadly speaking, I think there are two methods in getting people to perform: The first is through a process of earning their respect and appreciation and the second is by instilling fear into them. (Of course, there is a third style, that of doing nothing more than hoping for the best, but I don’t recommend that).
With the first method, people try their best to do the job they were assigned and to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. With the second method, it is likely that they will only perform at a level which gets the job done and prevents them from being fired. Naturally, I always choose the former method! And a point to note is that there is a big difference from the minimum acceptable to the maximum attainable! I also believe that a courteous attitude and leading by example adds considerably both to a leader’s image as well as to the results that can be achieved.
What would you consider to be the most difficult decision you’ve ever taken?
Not long after I arrived at the company from studying abroad, I was summoned to a top-level meeting and asked for my opinion on whether the business should solely concentrate on pharmaceuticals to the detriment of its other activities. As my father had founded the business and seen it expand from a carbon dioxide plant into a business incorporating aerosols and cosmetics, this was a difficult decision to have to make. However, it didn’t take me long to agree to Remedica becoming solely a pharmaceutical business and I outlined my reasoning for this. Our later success in the field proves this was entirely the correct decision and as a result Remedica has gone from strength to strength.
You were recently awarded Business Worldwide Magazine’s Award for Best CEO, Pharmaceutical Industry. What does this award mean for you?
For me, it recognises achievements over and above those gained through the work itself and the results. I would like to emphasise that rewarding success, in any form it may take, is necessary in order to achieve active entrepreneurship and calculated risk-taking, otherwise a company’s growth may be at risk.
Going forward, what are your plans for Remedica’s future?
We are committed to a more focused growth in emerging markets. In addition, our substantial investment in research and development with an emphasis on anti-cancer products will continue with the registration of products in many countries; their launch significantly improving performance. There is also a new range of products in the pipeline as we intend to launch new products from other Ascendis companies through our worldwide network.
However, I believe our most important strategy for the future is not only to continue to invest in quality, but more efficient methods and structures that will enable cost efficiencies and increase profitability.
Our programme of continued investment will develop pharmaceutical products, support innovation in various fields and improve the quality of life millions of patients worldwide.
A comprehensive overview of Remedica’s history, its current products and services, ongoing business development and corporate social responsibility news can be found at www.remedica.eu