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EF: 2020, everyone was focused on diagnostics, in 2021 it shifted to vaccines. What do you think 2022 should be the year of?
FF: 2022 will be the year of getting patients back to care. It will be a joint effort between governments, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders in the industry to get people back to care. 2022 should be the year when people got checked. In the past, people were most afraid of going to a health institution to de-risk their Covid exposure. Regular checkups, diagnoses, treatments, and interventions were postponed, and now there is a huge backlog. For us working in health care, our main priority should be to bring people back to care. There is a lot of people around the world that now might be neglecting their care, neglecting their controls, and it is our job as an industry to educate society about the importance of healthcare. We have a worldwide initiative planned for Women’s Day related to getting patients back to care. We have decided that on Women's Day on March 8th, as a worldwide initiative, Organon is providing a one-day paid leave to the entire population of workers for Organon to take care of their health. Since Mexico we are one of the six privileged countries where we have a manufacturing facility, we will be doing it one day before, Monday 7th of March, to minimize the impact on our manufacturing facilities. This initiative will encourage our over 500 employees that work with us here in Organon in Mexico to focus on their health. It's an initiative that is linked to women's aid. We are innovating in this way, and we want other institutions, governments, companies, and associations to join this effort of helping people get back to care.
EF: What are the lessons learned from this throughout this time?
FF: Remarkably, we managed to go through this process of setting up a new company remotely. This is something we did at a worldwide level. Throughout the entire organization, from our CEO, giving all the people that started joining Organon, as a spinoff from MSD, gave us a lot of drive. We understood that this space in the market was for us, due to our noble purpose and resources. We started with this spinoff process before the pandemic. The pandemic occurred in the middle of the process. This meant new challenges that had to be overcome. I understood and learned from the pandemic that nothing should stop you from what you want to achieve. It's a combination of the will of making this happen, and the noble purpose that aligned us and helped us make this happen.
We had the complexity of launching the company in a virtual setting and with a pandemic. We had the benefit of spinning off from a major pharmaceutical company that helped us with the right platform to start working on. We also realized that we have achieved several milestones despite the context and having as a top priority the health of our coworkers around the world. Mexico was not the exception. We were closely following health-related KPIs and directives from epidemiologists and planned our working environments accordingly. I am proud of what we have achieved. As an example, we have a manufacturing facility here in Mexico, and we connected with local authorities from Xochimilco, where our manufacturing facility is, to see how we could help. We feel that we have a responsibility of helping the community where we have our manufacturing facility. We also run an initiative led by women to paint our manufacturing plant walls. We connected with female muralists from Mexico, we made a project to create mural paintings. Mexico has a culture of muralism, which is historically a movement led by men. What is important about this is that we managed to do it in a dynamic environment, and they painted inside their manufacturing facility and in our corporate offices as well. So, that's an example that things can be done. If, if there is a will, there's a way, as they say. I would say during the two and a half years period of the pandemic, we struggled a bit when we started to operate as a separate company or as a business unit. In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, we were in preparation mode to launch the company in 2021 but we didn't know it would be evolving. Then in 2021, the pandemic had not gone away but it was a different year as compared to 2020 when we were in preparation mode. We started to manage the pandemic in the middle, we faced many challenges but it was feasible. It was when we started to get people vaccinated, the risk was reduced. Now that we are a separate company, we have the stock price, we are in the market, we are another company and we are proud of what we did during the pandemic.
EF: What is the importance of Organon Mexico to the group?
FF: Organon has a presence in more than 140 countries all over the world. We are the biggest company in our field, focusing on providing health care to women at every stage of their lives. We are proud to say that we have an entire product portfolio focused on all the stages of life for women. The Mexican market for Organon is an important one, we have six manufacturing facilities in the world, one of which is in Mexico that we are manufacturing for Mexico of course. We are still manufacturing some products for MSD and we are exporting products from Xochimilco to all over America, Australia, and some other countries like Canada. We are proud of having a manufacturing facility for the future. We expect that facility to expand here in Mexico in terms of the volume that we are currently producing; we are currently operating at 35% capacity. As a manufacturing plant, we have a large capacity and we are thinking about and beginning to work in plants to bring new products to such a miraculous. And we need to take advantage of it in a variety of ways.
EF: How do you think we can restore the importance of non-communicable diseases, especially for women?
FF: As an example, consider osteoporosis. Perhaps many women did not want to perform the densitometry. However, we can see the density of calcium in the bone. There are many things and controls that women did not take during the pandemic due to their fear of COVID. That would require a collaborative effort from many different organizations across the country, and we are here to assist. What is important about us is that we are attempting to make the right connections with institutions, health care providers, and the government, and we want to partner with them in a completely different way than Pharma has in the past because we are a different company. The fact that we came from MSD does not change the fact that we have a completely different approach to connecting. And that we, as a company, want to assist the government in finding solutions to make this happen. And actually, it's a three to five-year pregnancy-prevention implant. It has now been approved for five years, with a three-year indication. And the woman receives an implant, and they are protected from becoming pregnant. It is a wise decision by the Mexican government because teen pregnancy is a major problem in Mexico. And the way they are doing this is by bringing different contraceptive methods to the people so that young women can choose from a variety of contraceptive methods to prevent this from happening, following the guidance of their healthcare professional. One of these is the implant that we sell to the government and we believe that our intervention will be the most effective because it is simple to implant three years in a row. The pregnancy of a 15-year-old girl can cause a lot of complications for her economic and personal development and it has been proven that the level of education that they could reach if she got pregnant, at 13,14, or 15 years is not the same if it happens at 28. Another complication during the pandemic was that girls did not get the implant. The number of adolescent pregnancies has increased. Right now, as family planning clinics return to normal life, girls are returning to get the implant and a variety of anti-conservative methods. We are collaborating with the government and training healthcare professionals to assist these girls in reuniting and receiving the implant and other contraceptive methods. We can assist the government in mitigating teen pregnancy.
EF: Can you elaborate on the role Organon has in Mexico and initiatives that you are conducting in Mexico?
FF: We have several operations for accomplishing this. The traditional method that has been used by Pharma for many years may have resulted in good decisions, such as educating physicians on how to place the implant. Because it's an easy intervention, we train 50% of the physicians every year because they are moving from one institution to another; they may start working on a specific area, and then they specialize on a different topic; this is a yearly rotation effort. And we have a medical team in Organon that goes out and trains them. That is one way we are assisting in terms of education; we also have other ways in which we are attempting to educate users, not just physicians, so that they are aware of the various topics regarding woman’s health. We have developed an omnichannel strategy for woman’s health education with different content depending on the demography of each channel. We have been working on a first agreement that will be put in place within Organon, at a global scale, with UNFPA. We are working with them on educating young women about the importance of women’s health. We are also working locally in the community where our manufacturing facility is to reduce the undesired teen pregnancy rates, which is far above the national rate within Mexico. We decided to work with UNFPA to educate people about this. This is a pilot program that we want to be successful to further develop it. We are also excited to follow up on the impact of our project in the long run.
We are constantly thinking about how we can help women of childbearing age, providing them with the necessary information for them to plan according to their will.
EF: Five years from now if you come back to these days, how would you want to be remembered as a leader?
FF: The company gave me the option of joining Organon or remaining with MSD, and one of the most important reasons I chose to join Organon was the opportunity to be a founder of something. Not everyone gets the chance to be a founder of a company many times in their life, and not as many in the position that I was invited to join, which was leading the process of spinning the company and starting a company in a market as a market leader. That was one of the main reasons I accepted it at the time. So, five years from now, I would like to be remembered as someone who helped women in Mexico get back into care, as well as a woman's guide in deciding when the best time is to become a mother. And I want to be remembered as a leader who was instrumental in many of the advancements that the company will bring to the market regarding adolescent pregnancy. We are working on different therapeutic areas that are coming, the company has already decided about three acquisitions which was performed. The first one is related to postpartum haemorrhage. And as you may know, 35% of women that die at childbirth are from postpartum haemorrhage, which not even medicines can stop. With the advancements in fintech, we are changing the traditional pharma company perspective with a big research lab allowing scientists to work there and to bring new products to the market. This is a different game, it's a different company. We are a commercial engine, we are a company that is fully dedicated to women's health, there are more than 140 molecules or products that are being investigated in the field of women's care. Postpartum haemorrhage is only one example. Then we have another product that is related to preterm labour. There are many premature babies, and the company has a product in that specific area, and it's been investigated. And then we bought another company that manufactures products for endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Those two are areas where we are trying to bring products to market: going back to the five years, of course, I want to be remembered as someone who contributed to what we're doing now. It's also about collaborating with the government to gain access to certain products because Mexico is an out-of-pocket market where most medicines are paid for out of pocket and the government buys medicine for certain segments of the population. I also want to be remembered as someone who assisted the government in addressing women´s unmet medical needs.