Read the Conversation
EF: How do you assess the progress of the mission you set for yourself over the last couple of years, and what opportunities do you see in 2023?
AM: The research-based pharmaceutical industry had to reinvent itself during the pandemic as it faced market challenges. As a result, it showed the world the importance of investing in research and problem-solving technologies. There are advantages to developing and using the latest technologies in healthcare. Before the pandemic, product solutions and vaccines would undergo years of research. However, the pandemic showed us that we could achieve a lot quickly. There are several communicable and non-communicable diseases we must find solutions to or be prepared for.
EF: How do you assess technology adoption in Mexico, and how can it be improved?
AM: The adoption rate in emerging markets is different from mature markets. It is slower in emerging countries. Finding the balance between the best technology utilization and promoting fast technology adoption is a challenge. Latin America has the potential to become the land of opportunity through technology.
Technology in telehealth is evolving and has become so advanced in healthcare that physicians can, for example, now detect the difference between a hemorrhagic and an ischemic stroke remotely. Technology helps us widen our reach to remote areas through telehealth and online pharmacies and increases patient access. It is a key driver in spreading health throughout Latin America.
Technology is the best and most efficient way to overcome our challenges in remote areas. We recently created a digital medical field force with over 16,000 physicians on board. This exponentially increased our remote reach to patients and physicians in harder-to-reach areas.
EF: How do you, as a leader, see the potential of Mexico becoming an innovation hub on a Latin American level?
AM: Mexico has everything it needs to become an innovation hub for the region and the world. Currently, several investments are moving towards innovation in Mexico. We aim to keep increasing and attracting more investments. Mexico has several opportunities for growth in its vast amounts of unused land, access to innovative technology, and geographical location. We are neighbours of a country that has nurtured innovation into its DNA with great respect for intellectual property. The US has an evolved concept of how innovation works and the different ways we can leverage innovation. Exportation to the US is key to the growth of the country.
We have much work ahead of us to work around a regulatory system that needs to keep up with the pace of innovation. Despite having some of the highest levels of clinical trial investment in Latin America, many companies opt to conduct their innovative trials and clinical research outside Mexico due to our current rules and regulations. With the right adjustments, however, Mexico has the potential to become a leader in innovation. Our laws and regulations must evolve to reach our full potential.
EF: As a German company, how are you leveraging your ties to the German chamber of commerce? How is this enhancing your operations in Mexico?
AM: There are several ties between the German Chamber of Commerce and us. I was the vice president of the German Chamber of Commerce while in Argentina. In a recent meeting with the German embassy, we discussed the importance of the commercial corridor between the US and Mexico, the infrastructure of the government, and the continued investment of international companies. We are fostering the investments of German companies in Mexico and recognize the investments we are making and what it means for this country.
The chamber of commerce conducts programs on the evolution of research, which we are trying to bring over to Mexico. We want to expand the technical dual formation that has been used in Latin America, here in Mexico. The German government offers double formation to promote technically skilled students. We helped German investors explore investment opportunities in Mexico through different programs. Our plants in Mexico show the face of a German company in Mexico and the face of Mexico to the rest of the world. Representatives of the German Embassy came to see the recent opening of our extended manufacturing facility that serves the US, Canadian, and Latin American markets.
We recently invested about Euro 65 million into our Mexican sites in a program called the site master plan to increase our capacity by 30%, mainly for the anti-diabetic products exported to the US. We identify the most strategic investment sites we can fully leverage for the company—one of these strategic sites in Mexico. We are working closely with the government and the German Chamber of Commerce to ensure that our investment in Mexico sets an example for other companies and investors.
EF: Can you elaborate on the advantage of having such a considerable local footprint? And how can we further enhance this in Mexico?
AM: Earlier, I pointed out that we're seeking to broaden our manufacturing operations in Mexico due to its favourable geography, technology, and abundance of unused land. Unfortunately, Mexico has one of the highest indexes of obesity and non-communicable diseases in the world. Diabetes is widespread throughout the nation and trickles into Latin America. To help solve this problem, Boehringer Ingelheim's global diabetes portfolio offers a variety of solutions for patients with this condition.
BI Mexico is strategically placed as it can serve the North and Latin American markets through the anti-diabetic portfolio. We will continuously expand our portfolio and footprint and invest more in creating diversified solutions for patients with non-communicable diseases. Currently, 70% of our anti-diabetic manufactured goods in Xochimilco are exported to the United States. The remaining 30% serves Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
EF: How is BI working and collaborating with different stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of health?
AM: There is a great difference between promoting isolationism and self-sufficiency. There are many innovations because of all the alliances and partnerships between institutions and sectors. The greatest innovations come from collaborations. Ensuring different sources of active pharmaceutical ingredients, packaging materials, research, intellectual property, and new advancements in therapeutics for communicable and non-communicable diseases are sustainable through collaborations. BI considers an important part of its footprint our local and international partners. We are currently the only BI site in Latin America that is FDA certified for exportation.
We need to explore more partnerships in LATAM. We work with CANIFARMA, AMIIF, the German Embassy, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK-CAMEXA). I was vice president of the AHK in Buenos Aires. Now I am part of the advisory committee at CAMEXA here in Mexico. We constantly work with FUNSALUD to improve healthcare in Mexico. We can only solve healthcare's biggest challenges if societies, hospitals, public and private sectors, and all the stakeholders collaborate.
Supply chain challenges have defined how we carry out business. We must remember the difference between self-sufficiency and isolationism. To solve the current supply chain challenge, suppliers and distributors must collaborate. These collaborations all fall under daily operations.
Additionally, BI annually holds showcase events with education partners to attract local university students to our company. If students are attracted by our purpose and work culture, they can apply to work with us once they graduate.
EF: What are the three pillars in your roadmap to the future?
AM: To foster an innovative environment internally, we must foster diversity and inclusion. For sustainable long-term innovation, diversity is a necessity. Companies can guarantee different sources of self-sufficiency, but diversity is needed for sustainability and success in these changing and challenging times. We have three pillars to achieve sustainable development for the future: more health, more green, and more potential.
At BI, we are dedicated to creating more health and promoting sustainability. It is about guaranteeing the continuous release of new therapies to market, constantly observing our activities, and taking care of our environment. That’s why we work with farmers in Xochimilco to supply fruits and vegetables to our employees through social programs.
We have developed programs for our employees to guarantee physical, financial, and mental health. We started a therapy program during the pandemic through a third-party provider for employees that needed it. It is one of the most successful programs we have launched for our employees. It was so successful that we extended the program to physicians during the pandemic.
We are the first global BI site and the first pharmaceutical in Mexico to have an Alliance for Water Stewardship certificate for three consecutive years. We have a well that provides water for our manufacturing facility and site. We also have a treatment plant for the water we use for our manufacturing facilities. If we do not work together to protect the environment, we disadvantage the sustainability of future generations.
One of the things that set Boehringer Ingelheim apart is the fact that it is a family-owned company. I have been with the company for twenty-three years and have had the greatest professional growth experience. BI forecasts generationally rather than in business quartiles, differentiating it from a publicly owned company. That is why our sustainability pillars exist for future generations. BI’s executive committee is based on shareholders that think long-term. Success is measured in the long run.
EF: How would you like this period of your career to be remembered?
AM: I feel driven to make a difference. After being away in other countries for 14 years, I grew dissatisfied with my home country. When I was presented with a job opportunity in Mexico, I considered that if I was such a harsh critic of my homeland, I should come back and attempt to change it. I'm dedicated to working with CANIFARMA, AMIIF, CAMEXA, the embassies, our workers, and their families. Society will advance if we focus and strive for improvement. We can bring about positive change if we try to become the best version of ourselves.
EF: Do you have anything else you want to communicate to our readers?
AM: Boehringer Ingelheim invests in cardio-renal-metabolic diseases (such as diabetes), immunology, oncology, respiratory diseases, retinal health, and central neuro-system. We annually invest 20% of our global revenue toward pharmaceutical research. BI has had a major impact in the respiratory diseases field and continues to invest in this realm.
Recently, we have been working on a medication combined with a digital tool to assist those patients suffering from schizophrenia effects. This is a unique combination for Boehringer Ingelheim, utilizing the current international level of research to result in such innovation. We will be pleased to introduce this product, as it may improve the cognitive capabilities of those with schizophrenia. Our work is truly ground-breaking, representing the innovative advances created by today's global research endeavours.
At the end of last year, there were hints of an avian influenza outbreak among animals in Mexico and other parts of the world. Together with CANIFARMA, we provided 40,000 doses to Mexican farmers to break the spread of avian influenza. It was a success because we collaborated with the government and CANIFARMA and dispatched the doses for speedy delivery to prevent the spread in Mexico. The vaccine is an outcome of our research on animal health. Research is the key to progress.