Read the Conversation
EF: If 2020 was the year of diagnostics and 2021 the year of vaccines, what do you think will be the key healthcare talking points for 2022?
Post-Covid, the prevalence of the diseases has significantly changed. During Covid-19, the focus was on preventive health, but now because the population is more active, the market is turning to acute therapy and disorders. This change in variables in the prevalence of disease offers a very interesting change in the drug supply. Considering the logistic challenges in production, demand variables, and global raw material supply issues, we have been proactive in guaranteeing a diverse collection of medicines for the population. It has been an intense year for us in manufacturing investments, increasing capacity, and growing research and investigation investments. We know we have an important role in access to innovative medication and differentiated products that impact health. As a leading local manufacturing company, we have a social responsibility to the Colombian population by driving access to innovative drugs and medication. 2022 is a high-impact year for us, with a lot of growth for years to come.
EF: Having navigated the pandemic, you continue to grow and innovate successfully. Could you elaborate on the biggest lessons learned over this period?
During the pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions imposed were the biggest challenges, and we had to focus on looking after our workers. We organized very aggressive preventive campaigns for our employees to avoid catching Covid-19 and how to manage their environment if they did. We learned many lessons that will be useful in the future for new pandemics and basic primary healthcare, and as a healthcare company, we must be very active in this area. Another lesson was understanding the value of R&D, where we play an essential role. During the pandemic, we were resilient and made huge efforts to offer specific treatments and medication for critical patient management, meeting our social obligations and responsibilities for our patients in a crucial level of care. A lesson Covid-19 left us is the need to have a broad and diverse portfolio to face the country's demand, prevalence, or disease burden, which we must guarantee. Our model and investment focus is on increasing our manufacturing capacity and R&D. We are aware that the world has changed; it is no longer a global world where most of the medication comes from Asia. With the logistic challenges, demand variables, and disease prevalence and burden changes, local investment and production must supply the country's population and guarantee access to health.
EF: How will your portfolio evolve over the next five years? How does your current portfolio adapt to the needs of Colombia, and will that change in the coming years?
We have developed capacity for over a hundred products per year and continuously grow through additional investments in our US R&D new research centres. We offer the latest scientific advances adding value to the medication in each country through administration and liberation systems and medication delivery, which facilitate the administration and adherence to the treatment. We combine the latest technologies and therapeutic advances with the added value of the delivery systems, which assist delivery and drug tolerability. We do this in different therapeutic areas depending on the prevalence, disease burden, and prevention. We realize that individuals, the general population, and modern health models should focus on self-care and prevention. We also have medications for secondary preventive handling of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes, and CNS, which all play an important role in the population's health expenses, especially in Latin America. We offer technology, and our products guarantee adherence, therapeutic compliance, and mortality reduction. We are developing product lines to make access easier to new specialized therapies that have a high impact on the health expenditure of Latam, such as the so-called catastrophic diseases, which include oncology, orphan disease, and autoimmune diseases. We focus our efforts in these areas to create drugs, have a broad portfolio of offerings and quality solutions, and above all, access to the population. We plan to generate a short, medium, and long-term impact in terms of the prevalence of the disease burden for diabetes, oncology, autoimmune, and other high-complexity disease burdens.
EF: Considering the company's internationalization and expansion, what is the strategic importance of Colombia to the Group?
Colombia is very important; it is our headquarters and origin. Despite HQs in the US, Colombia has key production, central management, R&D centres, and the biggest scientific teams that generate interconnectivity with the other manufacturing plants in other countries. Colombia's revenue is an important part of the equation; we are one of the leading companies in Colombia in the sale of drugs under our brand and with our technologies. Our production facilities manufacture products for fifty countries, we have an enormous producing and exporting capacity. Colombia will continue to be our star country in the production and scientific knowledge and will continue to generate an impact in the region.
EF: Could you elaborate on your recent acquisitions and plans to expand globally? Are you in a position to continue with such purchases, and what do they bring to the Group?
Recently we announced a definitive agreement to acquire Grupo Somar, an integrated pharmaceutical company focused on developing, manufacturing, and marketing high-quality branded generic, private label, and OTC products targeted to the private market and offering CDMO services across key market segments in Mexico. The focus is now on our West Palm Beach, Florida facilities and Miramar, Florida, ensuring their production. There is a high demand for our new product development, and it is very clear the US is much more inclined to look to the Latam region. The American continent has become important to them. And we are fully aware that despite our fantastic talent in Colombia when dealing with pharmaceutical science, we have to try and find talent in the world's largest market -the US. We have brought in many new talents through our facility in Palm Beach to make our technology more universal and adapt it to the US market. In Colombia, we have developed very elite technologies, and there is a great future for them; the possibility of expanding to the whole continent becomes more of a reality every day.
EF: Innovation is your main engine of growth, and you have been awarded a prize from ANDI as the most innovative company locally. Could you elaborate on how Procaps promotes local innovation?
Procaps Group has a culture of innovation; innovation is in our DNA. We generate a favourable and enabling environment for all members of the different organization areas to create, think differently, and find their own space to develop ideas. Our purpose is to offer innovative solutions for humankind's health improvement, which is the focus we give our teams. Our strong areas of innovation are in developing new products with the latest technologies –with a broad capacity and a highly diverse range. We generate innovative models, including added value, offering additional services that favour compliance and pharmaceutical economic benefits. For example, we look at the patient comprehensively, not just considering the medicine but adding diagnostic or monitoring services or education. We invite all our teams to think comprehensively to generate value-adding ideas, creating the necessary synergies for the population.
We love to think of ourselves as a 45-year young startup. Keeping the startup mentality with our purpose of service is extremely important. I am very much involved in developing the National Board Organization in Colombia. We sponsor startups and do coaching to bring an innovative and entrepreneurship mentality and projects to the country. We work with Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, and Barranquilla local universities. We are involved in the innovation ecosystem, think of ourselves as leaders by choice, and are proud of our responsibility. We love to participate in bringing innovation as it is an extremely important source of growth for our country and region.
EF: Could you elaborate on your use of digitalization and technology and its benefits to Procaps and Colombia?
Digitalization has brought huge benefits to Colombia, particularly in the access to health in rural or remote areas. Digital channels and telemedicine are real and accessible alternatives in many speciality areas, such as diagnostics or high-speciality therapeutic areas. Teleconsults are here to stay and play an important role in society. Of course, a balance between technology and retaining a personal relationship with the patient is necessary. We have been very active in managing and supporting the telemedicine medical teams and have developed platforms to diagnose, treat and educate patients. The role of education is becoming increasingly important mainly because it is the base of care and because self-care will be the future health system. Internally we have advanced in marketing and commercial levels; all our product promotion is done through digital channels. We have developed digital tools such as e-commerce development, particularly for OTC products and drugs, adding value and achieving better communication with insurance companies to have interconnectivity and communication for the best patient follow-up. We also are using digital tools in the analytical and logistical areas, using data to predict demand and provide a better drug chain supply. Today we are immersed in a digital world with a high impact on health and very involved in this new reality. The bets are high; we must adapt and be sustainable within the new system and look to the future.
EF: You are about to celebrate your 45th anniversary; what achievements are you most proud of over this time?
Procaps has a huge responsibility to advance Colombia. We have always incentivized our organization to think big. When dealing with countries with a lot of poverty, such as Colombia, I feel extremely proud about contributing to the health of humanity. We feel extremely privileged to be part of the exclusive Wall Street financial world and strive to be worthy of such an honour. I am also aware of the huge responsibility we shoulder, and we aim to be an inspiration to other regional companies. The alternatives we offer are growth, the creation of good quality employment, and opportunities that will take our people out of poverty and bring more equality to society.
I am proud of working for a company that directly impacts society through the population's health. I am a doctor -a pharmacologist- and I am delighted to see our key supply of medicines cover the health needs across Latin America. I am most proud of the added value of service support and the sharing of ideas with the medical teams and insurance companies that generate an impact on the health of Colombians. All the health system collaborators are active participators; our co-workers feel they are part of the organization's results, and the teams feel included regardless of area, gender, or age. I am thrilled to be part of an organization that offers growth, equality, and opportunities.
EF: What would be your advice to young leaders wanting to follow your steps in the sector?
To be relentless and untiring in their efforts to contribute to society. We all have the opportunity to be proactive in offering new ideas, discuss openly and share alternatives to benefit innovation and creation. My advice is to raise your hand, speak up, confront and state your thoughts and ideas; all ideas are valid and should never be underestimated. A high capacity for execution and consistency in one's actions are important. Without implementation, some great projects only remain fantastic ideas. To advance as individuals, companies, or a country, we must be able to execute and turn an idea into action and achievement. We must set our minds to challenging objectives and be coherent in our goals.
My final advice is to work hard and never give up, despite the hurdles on the way, and even if you fall, get up again and start over. As a 45-year-old company, we have often found ourselves making mistakes, but those who never make mistakes, never really try. Those who succeed are the ones who believe the world is theirs and can contribute to world health, even if they come from an underdeveloped or developing country like ours.