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EF: What were the lessons learned over these past couple of years (and counting)?
PC: The first lesson learned was realizing how much staying tuned with our values helped us navigate during the pandemic. I was impressed that we never hesitated on the set of actions to be taken and prioritized, which focused on the safety and health of our people and customers. We then mobilized our teams very quickly and, in just 3 weeks, we were able to develop through our Brazilian Innovation Center and produce in our plant in Areal (Rio de Janeiro state) a hydro-alcoholic gel for massive donation to hospitals and healthcare professionals. The second lesson was about the profound impact of digitalization on the way we work. We collectively realized that most office-based activities can be efficiently performed remotely and that people management should focus much more on deliverables, regardless of the time your team spends in the office. Of course, physical interactions are key, especially when it comes to fostering creativity, mobilizing collective intelligence, and re-energizing teams behind a common culture and sense of purpose. But we also need to accept once and for all that people management has nothing to do with checking people’s time schedules. Getting rid of the traditional ways of managing people was truly liberating. On top of allowing our office collaborators to find a better work-life balance with less time spent in unproductive commuting.
We also discovered that while a remote visit will probably never fully replace a face-to-face visit to HCPs, getting more proficient in digital tools tremendously enhance the quality of the relationship through webinars that give access to the best international experts, follow-up emails, newsletters, B2B sites, etc. Of course, people are now enjoying the come-back to “normality”, especially in Latin America, where people prefer the warmth of physical interaction. But the new communication channels are open and are here to be maximized.
EF: Could you elaborate on Pierre Fabre's footprint in Brazil?
PC: In Brazil, Pierre Fabre is increasingly focused on dermo-cosmetics. Few people know this, but Brazil hosts one of the largest communities of dermatologists worldwide and an impressive network of pharmacies all across the country. Add to this the passion that Brazilians have for beauty, and you have here one of the top and fastest-growing markets for dermo-cosmetics.
However, consumer needs here are also quite specific because the skin and hair differ a lot from Europe and the US, and so do the climate and the hygiene and beauty routines.
The reason why we launched our Brazilian Innovation Center (BIC) based in Rio de Janeiro in 2018, which is our 2nd R&D centre outside of France, was to develop specific formulas better adapted to the needs of Brazilian and Latin American consumers. The first formulas developed by the BIC have launched a couple of months ago and we already see a clear acceleration of our worldwide #1 brand, especially in the suncare and anti-acne categories, which are very important in Brazil.
Still, the dermo-cosmetic market here is quite “elitist” when compared to Europe and there is a major opportunity for more affordable and approachable brands to expand access of the local middle class to dermatologist-endorsed products. Pierre Fabre is unlocking this potential through our local brands, whose products are among the most prescribed by Brazilian dermatologists.
In Oncology, we have just announced a partnership with the 100% Brazilian pharmaceutical company, Blanver Farmoquímica, to distribute and promote our chemotherapy drugs. These drugs were already commercialized in Brazil by our subsidiary. In line with this local agreement, Pierre Fabre Brazil’s Medical Care team has been hired by Blanver to ensure the continuity of distribution of these products, while leveraging Blanver’s expertise and footprint to improve access to these treatments for the benefit of the patients. These chemotherapy drugs are used for the treatment of advanced breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and advanced or metastatic transitional cell carcinoma of the urothelial tract.
EF: What is the relative importance of Brazil to Pierre Fabre as a group?
PC: Pierre Fabre is a French group, we are number one in the French dermo-cosmetic market and a major player in pharmacare. Brazil is a strategic market for us since our subsidiary is already in the top 10 of the group, with the potential to reach the top 5. Outside of France, we are the only country with a manufacturing plant, and just the 2nd after Japan to have its own R&D Center, so our Group deeply understands the strategic importance of Brazil and the need to have a special strategy for this country.
EF: With the current focus on digital and webinars, is it a challenge vying for attention? How do you see it evolving?
PC: All companies want their piece of the physicians' attention, especially dermatologists who receive so many medical reps. With the surge of digital tools and webinars, this is getting increasingly challenging. But it is also an opportunity to achieve better relationships and real quality of attention and engagement along the HCP journey. We are also changing our approach to medical visits: our reps first ask a lot of questions to try to understand what the doctors really need and how we can help them, which seems obvious but truly makes a wild difference in the way we engage HCPs.
EF: Pierre Fabre is well-positioned as a Great Employer and appeared on the Forbes List as one of the best companies to work at; when looking for new talent, what skill set do you want in future employees?
PC: We have quite a unique profile: a pharmaceutical company, founded by a visionary humanist entrepreneur, and owned by a non-profit foundation that focuses on promoting access to healthcare in developing countries. We are a mid-sized multinational and we believe that every time we take care of one single person, we make the whole world better. We believe in combining the best medical and natural expertise to offer the best solutions to patients and consumers.
We want to hire competitive and high-performing talents because we need to succeed as an independent and financially robust company. However, our collaborators must also share our values. They need to be able to listen to colleagues' perspectives and work together to solve problems and find solutions for the benefit of patients.
EF: Fast forward ten years; when you look back at this period in your professional career, how would you like to be remembered?
PC: I would like to be remembered as someone who left a financially solid and blooming business in a way that encourages people to work well together and truly innovate for the benefit of consumers and HCPs. I would like to be remembered as someone who helped increase access to high-quality healthcare products, including dermo-cosmetics, to the largest possible number of people in Brazil.
EF: What is your personal definition of access?
PC: Ensuring the best solution reaches the patients. Like all Latin America, Brazil is a highly unequal country. The big challenge for the healthcare industry, including dermo-cosmetics, is to work together to provide high-quality solutions for all the population.