Read the Conversation
EF: What do you think 2022 will be the year of?
AC: 2022 will be the year of integrating healthcare promotion, prevention, early diagnostics, and treatment. As development increases, the demand for healthcare increases as well. Focusing on the minor issues and combining them will make the healthcare system more sustainable. Once we master healthcare integration, we will diagnose earlier and give treatment at the beginning stages, which will lead to lower costs. Integrating the stakeholder and the different tools will promote and increase healthcare.
As an industry, we need to use all the tools to remain sustainable. We need to have better diagnostics, promotion of healthier lifestyles, early prevention, and treatment. It will not be maintainable if we keep providing healthcare in the same way we have been doing it for the past few years in the long run.
To increase our reach span, we must use digitalization to our advantage. Getting patients back to healthcare, educating, and providing them with early diagnostics is a vital priority.
EF: What were your mission and the lessons you learned during the pandemic?
AC: I was hired, went through onboarding, and worked virtually for the first few months. One of my key goals was to get closer to everyone. I accomplished this by having weekly one-on-one meetings, openly communicating, and messaging everyone. Being close to my team, customers, and suppliers helped me understand their needs. I had to learn to stay close while far away.
Our planning became more structured, with space for adjustments as we adapted to the situation. We went from planning long-term to planning day-to-day. Each new day brought challenges, so we adjusted our plans to accommodate the constant change. Decisions on what to import and how to manage supply chain disruptions are crucial, and so is structuring and training to expand our service team. We had all these issues in mind and made decisions based on the most critical challenges.
We now have more tools at our disposal, thanks to digitalization. We built on top of the set foundation by using digitalization, and we connected with more people who opened more channels for us. We learned to be more flexible, take more risks, and better navigate uncertain circumstances. Our responsibility is to deliver quality and safe products to our customers. Focusing and staying close to our purpose and mission to provide better diagnostics helps us overcome many challenges.
EF: Can you elaborate on Guerbet's role in Brazil during the pandemic?
AC: The plant in Brazil plays a vital role in the Latin American market because 80% of its products are sold in Brazil and other Latin American countries. Because there are slight differences between our product portfolios, we sometimes import products from the plants in France or the USA to Brazil and other Latin American countries. We are the voice of the customer, which is why we ensure we are well connected with the functions of our commercial business.
Before Covid-19, we would send our product forecast to manufacturers months and years ahead of the delivery schedule. During Covid, the number of employees lowered, which lowered the plants’ capacity to manufacture products. As a result, the products made during this time were in line with critical healthcare conditions. The products needed would change on a weekly to monthly basis. We internally aligned and worked as an integral whole to get the right products produced at the right time. We used action plans that adapted to the market demand accordingly, and that is how we fulfilled the needs during the pandemic.
EF: What are the product portfolio and the performance of Guerbet Brazil?
AC: We are traditionally known for our contrast medical imaging. Guerbet has been investing and evolving towards more complete solutions, and our focus has expanded to include pharmaceutical and diagnostic solutions. An example is an injector with minimal side effects, which makes injecting the contrasting agent easier and more controlled. This makes for a better and safer diagnosis that leads to better outcomes.
We have a system that connects to our injectors and controls the injected amount and the flow speed. This system captures the amount of contrasting medicine, the results, effects, and protocols for each patient. It is beneficial to management because it will increase patient efficiency and make the overall process safer for patients.
We also have other solutions that we launched using AI technology. We have established an AI product with a start-up company that analyses MRI brain images and detects signs of dementia-related conditions like Alzheimer's. Other products are in the pipeline that use AI to improve the diagnosis rate of different cancer cells. We are also developing a product that helps radiologists diagnose faster. It will help patients get a quicker diagnosis, which will increase their life expectancy and improve their health and quality of life.
We are expanding our portfolio beyond pharmaceutical solutions and launching into medical devices and digital solutions within our area of expertise. We have micro-catheters and micro-guide wiring. The idea is to move from diagnostics to theragnostics.
EF: How do you see collaborations developing in Latin America and Brazil?
AC: Integration requires collaboration because no stakeholder can accomplish everything independently. Big companies have broad portfolios, but they cannot produce all the needed products. An example of a collaboration we have is with an external partner that analyses MRI images. The start-up brings the corporation's software, knowledge, expertise, and clinical trials. We bring access to radiological centres. With this collaboration, we can offer solutions to our customers and have more people getting an early diagnosis.
We have several collaborations with global and local partners to give more diagnostic solutions. Locally we work with various companies that produce scanners and other products. We partner with all these companies to offer solutions to their customers and our patients. There are clinical, financial, training, protocols, and economic sides to a collaboration with customers. We can share risks and rewards using different effective business models within our partnerships. Collaborators should keep the value of their products in mind instead of the price. If all the involved stakeholders do their best in their roles and tasks, the patient and collaborators benefit economically.
Competing companies get into alliances in the pharmaceutical industry because no company can implement all the integrated tasks and challenges and develop all the required products by themselves. It is crucial to integrate instead of being conflictive.
EF: What would you like to be remembered for five years from today?
AC: Personally, the answer changes as I go through different phases of life. I have been in the pharmaceutical industry for 30 years now and would like to be remembered as the person who helped the market be integrative, collaborative, and more sustainable. Presently the system is divided and conflicted. Being transparent and honest with all the relevant stakeholders will smoothen the transformation. Integration within the industry is evolving, and I would like to contribute to and be a part of it. Looking back five years from now and seeing our growth and evolution would be incredible. I would also like to see the development of Guerbet's reputation increasing on the market.