Kari Sarvanto introduces Primex, an innovative fast-growing company spearheading a new pharmaceutical business model, strongly focusing on anesthesiology. He talks about entrepreneurship, innovation and new ways of achieving success in the pharmaceutical business today.
“For big pharma, pediatric patients only become of interest at the end of the life cycle with extension to patent times: we see them as a core customer, innovating and developing new formulations and packs specifically for children.”
Primex calls itself ‘an innovative and fast-growing company spearheading a new pharmaceutical business model’. What exactly does that mean?
As a young company, we were able to create a strategy that does not have to carry any past legacy, but rather focus on quickly changing the pharmaceutical landscape based on interaction with the clinicians. Big pharmaceutical companies are very dominant, but are often disconnected from the market. We recognized this, and focused on understanding market realities through our interaction with people. We are close to our customers, that is for example our partners, hospitals and patients. The first thing we do is go to clients in a new market and simply ask them what they lack. Our focus is on anesthesia and other demanding products. We have just submitted the first pediatric anesthetic to the EU and Swiss authorities for marketing authority. For big pharma, pediatric patients only become of interest at the end of the life cycle with extension to patent times: we see them as a core customer, innovating and developing new formulations and packs specifically for children.
Why did you decide to focus your business on this area in particular?
In 2011 we acquired Recofol from Bayer.
It was the first propofol after the originator, and the first advanced lipids version, thus leading us to become involved in the anesthesia market. Since the first propofol arrived decades ago, there have not been many new products in anesthetics, but today we are bringing a new pediatric anesthetic to the market; a product that, once registered, will become the first sedative for children in Europe. As a pediatric product, it has been developed and studied for children, and we have already gained experience with some 10 000 pediatric patients during the last years of clinical use in the University Hospital of Amiens in France.
Could you give us an overview of your current product portfolio? Over the last few years Primex has demonstrated extremely strong revenue growth. What products account for such growth?
Recofol has been our key revenue driver, together with our intravenous acute heart failure therapy, Dobuject. Everything in this business takes time, but in anesthesia we have an exciting upcoming pipeline of products. To define our portfolio strategy, we use the metaphor of the triad of anesthesia: which is associated with hypnosis, or sedation, or being unconscious; but there are also the two other corners that the anesthesiologist needs daily: the analgesics, or pain management, and the third corner of muscle relaxants and their reversants. All these need to be considered when working in anesthesia.
When we go to new markets, in particular undeveloped ones, we recognize that the greatest products, together with a sales force, will not do the job alone.
Therefore, we focus on unlocking markets through interaction with policy makers and hospital buyers, and delivering European quality to the standards appreciated by the local authorities. For example, in Indonesia, we work with a major local player –
it is our strategy to be local. On the other hand, there are the subsidiaries of big multinationals run by foreigners and, as a result, there is often a lack of dialogue with the local stakeholders. In the past, we needed to knock on doors around the world and introduce Primex, but now it is easier, as we are receiving brand name recognition through our products and global marketing efforts.