MILAN, Jul 9 (Class Editori) – The Chinese health sector, including its pharmaceutical segment, keeps growing and thus relying on Italy’s biggest companies active in the market. In time sequence, the latest is Chiesi Pharmaceuticals, ready for a new expansion stage on the Asian markets after ten years of activity in the area, thus developing a new, multi-polar strategy.
Many things have changed since the opening of the company’s first branch office in Beijing, so the two brothers Alberto and Paolo Chiesi – together with their CEO Ugo Di Francesco – decided to coordinate the launch of several new portfolio products, in particular targeting their Shanghai, Pakistan and Moscow branches.
“Our business is family-run, and we want to keep growing in a sustainable way, focusing on main markets like the US and Europe. Yet we also want to increase access to care for patients living in some of the bigger emerging markets for pharma, like China,” clarified the two brothers.
The Chinese branch’s revenues are a good example of the company’s growth margins, as it generated 82 million euro in 2018 with 243 employees; meanwhile, the Chiesi Pakistan branch could count on 240 employees to earn the company 21 million – similar to Chiesi Russia, adding up 153 employees and returns for 26 million euro.
“Between 2013 and 2016 we managed to triple our turnover and, most importantly, we have consolidated our product portfolio. Our action range is now wider, as it reaches into the neonatal segment,” said Francesco. In 2016 the company’s turnover was at 70 million euro, generated through 210 employees.
The key to success in China is Chiesi’s hyper-specialization in products for newborn, leading the company to start a JV with Chinese Eddingpharm in 2013, which allowed them to take advantage of their marketing platform – even in the respiratory specialization, another strong suit of the Italian group. “In China excessive pollution has created one of the largest pools of asthma patients, who are still relying on traditional treatments,” said Di Francesco, whose attention on R&D – peaking at 20% of the company’s turnover – granted the Italian multinational an ever-more optimistic view of China.
“We expect 2019 to be an extremely positive year, counting on total sales at 1 billion and 880 million, up 6.4% against 2018,” added Di Francesco, who witnessed the company closing the financial year of 2018 with one of the best financial statements in its history, and who presented the group with new challenges regarding products and strategic alliances.
The recent agreement with the US Inhibrx Biotech, specialized in innovative biologic medicines, will give them inclusion in the exclusive license for the development and the commercialization of Inbrx-101 everywhere except the US and Canada.
Consolidated sales in 2018 reached 1.768 billion (+7.8% compared to 2017), which were largely made on foreign markets (248 million in Italy), the workforce increased worldwide: 5,624 employees (5,318 in 2017) which will rise at 6 thousand by the end of the year in three production centers: Farma, Blois in France and Santana de Pernaiba in Brazil launched investments for 381 million euros, mostly for research and development of new drugs (788 dedicated employees, 47 active projects and 54 clinical trials in progress).
The 2018 EBITDA increased by 9.4% on 2017 and reached 512.7 million (29% of turnover compared to 27.8% of the previous year. Chiesi is focused on three therapeutic areas: respiratory that is worth 1.1 billion in turnover and grows by 8.2% over 2017, neonatology (237 million slightly down compared to the previous year), rare diseases and special care that have reached 456 million with a 10.3% growth over 2017. The 2018 net profit amounted to 237 million euros (13.3% of turnover).
Innovation has been the key for growth: in 2018, Chiesi ranked first among the Italian pharmaceutical companies in filling patents in Europe and for Investments in R&D, according to JRC European Commission data.
The 2019-2024 strategic plan target is to reach 2 billion of turnover thanks to internationalization, innovation and R&D and the enhancement of people, by integrating two key aspects: digitalization and sustainability.
Chiesi has just signed an agreement with the Iqvia group (listed on the New York Stock Exchange) to develop through its offices the Orchestrated Customer Engagement (Oce) technology all around the world. The customer-oriented innovation that Chiesi puts at the center of its vision has generated 81% of turnover which comes from proprietary products and developed Chiesi R&D teams.
The alliance with China is good also for the Genoese Esaote, a turnover of 250 million euros, 70% of which from exports, controlled by a group of Chinese investors led by Beijing Wandong Medical Technology, the largest and most historic Chinese company in the field of diagnostic imaging. Wandong Medical Italia, exclusive distributor in Italy for Beijing Wandong Medical Technology of magnetic resonance equipment, and Esaote have announced the start of a commercial collaboration on the Italian market.
The agreement will cover a new line of 4.0 diagnostic tools including the new MyLab ™ X8 ultrasound, a versatile high-performance ultrasound platform that will be one of the flagships of the management entrusted to the new CEO, Franco Fontana, appointed by the board of directors chaired by president of Wu Guangming and formed by Xie Yuefeng, Zheng Hongzhe and Eugenio Biglieri who will serve as chief operating officer.
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