In July, Juan Carlos Conde took over from Carlos Teixeira at the helm of the multinational Teva, one of the major producers of generics. The company prepares novelties in its factory in Zaragoza.
What news will be announced for the Zaragoza drug factory?
We have had a very good development in this plant in recent years. 15 years ago the factory produced seven times less than it does today. Now we are close to 7,000 million tablets. This has involved large investments, expansion of the workforce and new infrastructures in the Malpica industrial estate itself. Today it is one of the most important plants in Teva’s production network worldwide.
With the arrival of European funds, will it continue to expand?
This year we have invested 6.5 million euros in the Zaragoza factory. This amount will serve four aspects that we are developing. On the one hand, the expansion of storage, where we are going to double the current amount. On the other hand, we have brought a very important molecule, which is losartan, to manufacture in Zaragoza. In addition, we also have a new packaging conditioning line and we have expanded the quality laboratory. We plan to invest more in the coming years, at an average of 3 million per year and that is where European funds come in.
He was talking about new hires in recent years. What happened in 2021?
We have grown in production and more staff has been needed. In the last year there have been more than 30 hires.
Is the company considering an acquisition or is it planning to move towards a sales policy?
The history of Teva shows that we have been a company that has grown tremendously through acquisitions. There came a time when we had done a lot and the focus shifted to efficiencies and focus on organic growth. At the level of the Spanish market, the growth that we are going to have will come through organic. At a global level, this does not mean that there may be some small or medium-sized acquisition. From a business point of view, the size has already been achieved. Now it’s time to focus on how to add more value to the patient.
So what new releases does Teva envision this year?
We have had a very important launch in the last year in the area of severe migraine, which is a biological treatment that has been a leap forward in the treatment of this pathology. Looking ahead, before the end of the year, we have a launch in the respiratory area, with a certain degree of innovation. They will be improved inhalers. In the generic segment, where we have one of the largest vademecums in the world, there are constant releases. Depending on the year, there are between 10 and 20 new products annually.
What is the economic forecast for the results of 2021 in relation to 2020?
In 2020 there has been an economic impact in the pharmaceutical sector, although it has not been as serious as in the hospitality or tourism sector. It must be borne in mind that in the harshest months of the pandemic, access to health centers has been less and the ability to treat other diseases and to diagnose new patients has been reduced. This has also happened at the beginning of 2021, but this year the pharmaceutical market in Spain will end up in positive numbers, albeit small. We are in line with the market. We are going to have growth, although less than what it had been until now.
Let’s move on to talking about drug policy. It is expected that this fall the Plan for Generics and Biosimilars will arrive at the Interterritorial Council. There are some controversial measures, such as the price differential in favor of the generic. What is your vision?
The price differential, also called positive discrimination towards the generic, was in the regulations for years. We have always seen it well and not just for being part of it. The two main issues that need to be resolved now through legislation are to increase access, that is, to manufacture mature products at a better cost-efficiency and that this generates greater accessibility or the same but at a lower cost. And then innovation for unmet medical needs. It is impossible to have a modern health system with the efficiency necessary to finance innovation if there is not a great penetration of generics. Someone could say that if two drugs have the same price, why is there such positive discrimination. Well, because if there is no generic penetration,
Another controversial measure is that of the discounts that the industry offers to pharmacies and that the Ministry wants them to go to the public coffers …
There you have to act smart. Discounts are offered for prompt payment and volume and are part of the business relationship with pharmacies. These, in addition to a health point, are also a company that needs economic sustainability and if there is no equal we cannot have 22,000 pharmacies in Spain, which provide a very high service.
There is a study that says that their generic drugs have saved countries 43,000 million globally. Can you give me data at the Spanish level?
In terms of savings, the annualized value of Teva’s presence in national pharmaceutical spending has been estimated at just over 200 million euros. That is one of the parameters. The added value that we generate at the country level in our two operations (marketing and production) is 347 million euros in 2020. In terms of investment, 42 million correspond to labor income, because we have 900 employees. This at a direct level, because at an indirect level we would be talking about 6,000 jobs.
After the passage of the pandemic, one of the consequences in many productive sectors has been the shortage of some raw materials. Have you had a problem at Teva?
What happened to us, and it was more serious during the worst moment of the pandemic, was that China and India closed the outlet of many active ingredients for global supply chains. This produced a bottleneck and there were many problem medications. We are quite saved because we are number one in the production of active ingredients.
We have a value chain that starts from the active principle and ends with the commercialization of the product. A fact: 93% of the medicines we sell in Europe are produced here. I think it is important to bet on the industrialization of Europe in pharmaceutical matters because it generates value. If European health systems continue to put pressure on drug prices, that creates cost pressure and causes production to move outside of Europe.