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EF: 2020 was a year of diagnostics and prevention, 2021 a year of vaccines, what do you think 2022 will bring?
LM: Beyond the pandemic, it is about getting our patients back to healthcare. I believe all pharmaceutical companies have to better understand the patient's journey in 2022. After the last two years, the focus must be on the patient’s journey, especially in our case as we work on replacement therapy for men and women, which is also true for other companies in our segment. Regardless of the sector, retail or private market, the pharma companies must work hand in hand with the product and patient’s journey. The pandemic and these last two years have changed us; our mindset, the skill set needed, and even the benefit of certain drugs that add value to patients' lives. With the digital transformation happening worldwide, there are many opportunities, and we are investing heavily in medical education and digital, never losing track of the patient's journey.
EF: What were the lessons learned from a leadership and business perspective managing through a pandemic?
LM: Back in March 2020, we knew nothing of Covid, we had never had to live through anything similar, and from a business perspective, my first move was to create a crisis strategy based on three pillars:
- Price and strategy.
- State priorities: a) protect our people, b) work on mitigating the business's short-term losses, and c) be tactical and have a contingency plan to go step by step. My first goal was to protect our people and then work on digital initiatives for the business.
- Communication plan: I set up meetings once a week with the company’s leadership team to make decisions on processes, which I didn't know if they were right or wrong but had to be made.
We covered all the strategies step-by-step to bring the business back on track. Secondly, while working on our “new normal” plan, we worked on a plan B according to the risk assessment of the business. Thirdly, we started a post-Covid strategy and built resilience within the business and our people.
Besins Healthcare Brazil focuses on innovation, not only as a product but as a process. Again, we didn't have all the answers, but decisions had to be made. I decided to go ahead with innovation initiatives and risk being wrong. Decision-making without information was one of the biggest challenges, but it was a tactic move. On a personal level, I believe we are here for a life purpose, and my purpose, in this case, must fit the company's goal. I work in a pharmaceutical company, and my mission is to take care of people. I communicated with my team every day and ensured they were all right because it is important to stay positive when living in a more isolated mode.
EF: What is Brazil's strategic importance to Besins? Over the past two years, how was your portfolio performance regarding men's and women's health?
LM: Besins is a niche company with 137 years in the market that focuses on women's and men's health, and we have pharmaceutical and nutrition products. Our company’s strategy in Brazil is based on two pillars: growth and protecting the business and gaining the mark share. We are leaders and have a strong market share. We are trying to grow our products on the pharmaceutical side. We don't need a lot of products, only the ones that make a difference in the patient's life. We also have a nutrition product with a scientific foundation that will make a difference. Our strategy in nutrition is to collaborate with the patients' health and well-being. Our portfolio in Brazil is dedicated 70% to pharma products and 30% to nutrition products.
EF: How much of your business is directed to the public versus private sector? Are your products covered mainly by out-of-pocket, private insurance, or the public system?
LM: Up till now, 100% of our business is retail and we have patients in all segments; health is not only for patients with money to buy out of pocket. Our next step in our strategy is to have market access in the near future. In 2010, I started Besins operations in Brazil, which has been a great journey.
EF: Fast forward ten years; when you look back at this period in your professional career, how would you like to be remembered?
LM: I would like to be remembered for doing the best I could for the patients, my team, and the company, exactly in that order. I always put people above all else, they are my mission in life, and I hope to look back in ten years and feel assured that I took care of them, whether in the company or in my private life. I would want to be sure that I did my best.
EF: Besins will be celebrating its 15th anniversary in Brazil in three years; what accomplishments would you like to celebrate by then?
LM: I would like to celebrate having doubled the company and being one of Brazil's top 50 pharmaceutical companies as a support of the people (the most valuable asset) and culture (the right workplace to deliver the strategy). At the moment, we are number 63 (source: IQVIA April 2022), and I want to get into the top 50.
EF: Is there any final message you would like to share?
LM: I would like an improvement in the quality of life of all the Brazilian population, not just for those who can pay for it. All people must be treated equally in the private sector and the public system. I hope and wish for more women in key positions in the pharmaceutical industry and other trades. Having more women in leadership positions would be good for the pharmaceutical business. Finally, I want health for everybody, all over the world.
EF: What would be your advice to women in Brazil interested in management or leadership roles in the pharmaceutical sector?
LM: My advice is to have self-belief. Don't ask other people for advice; ask yourself!