Read the Conversation

EF: What are the current priorities on your agenda, from both an industry and an Almriall perspective? 

LM: The pharmaceutical industry has played a crucial role in addressing the unprecedented health crisis brought about by COVID-19, largely due to its strong commitment to research and development. This sector's dedication to innovation has been instrumental in advancing societal progress and tackling global health challenges. Continuous innovation is vital for creating and leading a competitive industry capable of creating healthcare solutions for future problems. Investing in pharmaceutical R&D not only promotes health but also contributes to social well-being and economic growth.  

The potential for biomedical innovation is immense, particularly with the exponential growth of life science capabilities driven by technology solutions like big data and artificial intelligence. The primary challenge for the sector, especially in Europe, is generating the incentives and environment needed to boost the competitiveness and sustainability of innovation. Reflecting on some numbers for perspective: two decades ago, almost half of the new medicines were generated in Europe, but now only one in five new medicines originate from Europe. The ongoing review of pharmaceutical legislation in Europe, along with local regulations, presents a unique opportunity to attract investments, enhance competitiveness, and support sustained manufacturing networks, which are currently waning.  

From an Almirall perspective, recent priorities include the launch of biologics, which are propelling the dermatology business in Europe. The biologics, along with a broad range of dermatological products, underscore our commitment to significantly impacting patients' lives. Our priority is to leverage our strong financial foundation and long-term business perspective to focus on finding the right technology to treat key dermatological conditions. To this end, we are expanding our innovation pipeline and concentrating on rare diseases, immuno-inflammatory diseases, and non-melanoma skin cancer, aiming to deliver impactful solutions in dermatology based on the latest science and technologies. 

EF: As you continue expanding internationally, how do you view the continued importance of Spain to Almirall?  

LM: Almirall has established a robust global footprint with a direct presence in 18 countries and a workforce of nearly 2000 employees, about 70% of whom are based in Spain. Our headquarters in Spain are the hub of our R&D and manufacturing activities. We have a dermatology-dedicated pharmaceutical center in Barcelona, which is an emerging hub for biologic science and healthcare innovation. This center is home to approximately 250 R&D professionals who are devoted to advancing skin science and developing new dermatological treatments using various technologies. Barcelona's well-established connections with leading experts and institutions globally enhance our research efforts through numerous agreements and collaborations. We are proud to play a key role in the emerging life sciences hub, which benefits from worldwide connections with top experts, stakeholders, and key institutions.  

On the manufacturing side, maintaining local production is essential for strategic autonomy, particularly relevant in Europe today. Spain hosts 106 manufacturing plants, 70% of which produce original brand medicines, reflecting the country's promotion of R&D. Almirall is a key part of this network, with our main production plant and two chemical plants located near Barcelona, in addition to another plant in Reinbek, Germany. Collectively, these facilities, along with external sites and networks, enable us to manufacture the vast majority of our volumes in Europe, with over 100 million units annually for global distribution. This extensive network underscores our strategy of leveraging local capabilities to serve the regional and global market, ensuring our products' high quality, availability, and innovative edge. 

EF: How do you view the need to foster an environment that promotes strategic autonomy? 

LM:  The pharmaceutical industry - despite an impressive track record of innovation and delivery of novel medicines - has faced numerous challenges recently, not just from the pandemic but also from various supply chain tensions. At a national level, there is a heightened awareness of the need for strategic autonomy in the pharmaceutical sector. This requires robust production plans and strong R&D capabilities locally. Governments play a crucial role in incentivizing and attracting investments, as well as maintaining those investments sustainably. Almirall significantly contributes to strategic autonomy, not only in Spain but also across Europe. By manufacturing medicines in Spain and distributing them across Europe and the globe, we are a key player in maintaining and enhancing these capabilities in Spain and Europe. Our efforts ensure that we support the local economy while reinforcing our role in the global pharmaceutical landscape. 

EF: How do you benefit from the ecosystem of collaboration that you have created?  

LM: First, let me mention a key concept for us: collaborations. As a company, our primary focus is fostering a very open and collaborative culture, both internally and externally. This is crucial because we operate within a vast and complex ecosystem that is interlinked in many areas. We encourage scientific exchange to advance our understanding of skin biology and skin conditions, aligning with our R&D strategy.  

To achieve this, we invest in creating leading capabilities in-house and also in building strong relationships with academia, research institutions, and other pharmaceutical companies, positioning them as our partners in this ecosystem. For example, at Almirall, we have initiatives like our Shine and Share project. These initiatives allow us to partner with academic centers of excellence in dermatology worldwide to enhance the scientific understanding of skin diseases and biology. Partnerships and collaborations are fundamental to our company’s ability to innovate and lead in medical dermatology. We have a long history of working with various leading entities, and we prioritize collaborations that foster an ecosystem promoting bioscience, research and development, and innovation, including in digital health. In this ecosystem, Barcelona's Health Hub, BioCat, and FarmaIndustria play crucial roles, and we are active participants. We are an integral part of these institutions and contribute significantly to their achievements.  

EF: How do you attract and retain the best talent in such a competitive environment? 

LM: Our ability to attract and retain top talent is due to several key factors. Firstly, our company culture is a major driving force. We encourage ingenuity, individual courage, and accountability. We empower our employees to take ownership of their work and make meaningful contributions. This sense of responsibility and autonomy is very attractive to talented individuals who are looking for opportunities to have an impact, and it is something that we can uniquely offer due to the size and strategic focus of the company. 

At Almirall, we are passionate about science and innovation, and we actively seek out the right talent to join us in our mission. We foster an entrepreneurial mindset and create an environment where people can be creative and find solutions to the challenges we face. This is rewarded, which helps to keep our teams motivated and engaged. Additionally, our unique structure and size as a company allow our teams to see the real impact of their work on patients, society, other companies, and institutions. Knowing that their work makes a difference and has a very direct impact on people living with diseases, the medical community and our society is fulfilling and rewarding for our employees. 

In summary, we have a very open culture. We support our employees by addressing their concerns and needs. For instance, we conduct regular culture surveys to listen to our employees and understand who they are and what they need. Based on this feedback, we implement initiatives to reinforce the sense of identification with the company and our vision. This comprehensive approach helps us attract and retain top talent, ensuring that we continue to innovate and make a positive impact in the field of dermatology and beyond. 

EF: How are you using digital tools to enhance the work you are doing at Almirall?  

LM: We believe that digital advancement is a crucial element of achieving our ambition and our innovation goals. Therefore, we have several initiatives underway, but what stands out as most crucial to me is that it is not just about the digital tools. It is about cultivating a digital mindset. This is a critical aspect that companies, including ours, must focus on. Our digital model integrates several interconnected elements that require consistent development. We utilize platforms, data management, and both traditional and generative artificial intelligence. These technologies provide us with the tools and capabilities to build innovative solutions.  

However, it is equally important to foster a digital mindset and enhance the expertise of our teams. Over the past few years, we have been developing omnichannel capabilities, enabling us to combine multiple channels to deliver added value to our customers, stakeholders, and the broader ecosystem we are part of. We have a number of collaborations that help us advance our capabilities in AI, and despite our digital advancements, maintaining a physical presence remains essential, reflecting the importance of our people. We have a comprehensive digital plan that is already being deployed. Central to this plan is the emphasis on people, changing mindsets, and equipping our teams with the necessary expertise to evolve. This requires ongoing focus and development over the coming years.  

EF: What are you most proud of as Almirall celebrates its 80th anniversary? 

LM: Through our 80-year history, one thing has remained unchanged: the reason why Almirall was founded. Established in 1944 in Spain, the company's purpose has always been to provide people with access to impactful medicines. This mission continues to drive us today and motivates the nearly 2,000 people working at Almirall. Over these decades, we have developed innovative treatments that have significantly improved people's quality of life. 

We were the first Spanish company to have a drug approved by the FDA and are the only one with two biological treatments in our portfolio. Our robust pipeline in medical dermatology places us at the forefront of scientific advances in the understanding of skin and skin conditions, which is central to our mission. Our ambition, after 80 years of dedication, is to become a global leader in medical dermatology. This focus is reflected in our current dermatological portfolio and our ongoing R&D efforts. Every day, we work with the same purpose: to transform the lives of patients. 

July 2024