Rising to the Challenges to Bring Innovation and Value

Today, Galenika is ranked in the solid second position in terms of share in the Serbian pharmaceutical market

Ricardo Vian Marques, General Manager, Galenika

In 2017, Galenika became a part of the NC Group, which is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Latin America. Brazilian investments in Serbia are not that common, and here in Serbia, we cannot even imagine the strength of Brazilian and Latin-American economies. How is the pharmaceutical industry changing and what is Galenika’s growth path? In this interview, Mr Ricardo Vian Marques, General Manager of Galenika, responds to those questions.

As a member of one of the largest Brazilian companies, Galenika has made a big turn since the privatization – from a traditional company, one of the biggest in former Yugoslavia, to a modern pharmaceutical leader and a result-oriented go-getter. How did you make such a success out of it?

It has been a very dynamic five years for Galenika and our whole team. Integration into a large system such as the NC Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Brazil, has certainly brought advantages in the organization and implementation of business, as well as in the presence in the global market. Investments and development in recent years have implied modernization of production, digitalization of business processes, developing and improving the team, as well as expansion of the product portfolio.

The strategic partnership between Galenika and EMS, our sister company, the leading pharmaceutical company in Brazil, has obviously contributed to the further growth of Galenika. We have gained access to their intellectual property, which enables us to transfer the technology of a newer generation of generic drugs, thus registering new products and expanding our portfolio.

The result of these united efforts is that Galenika today is ranked in the solid second position in terms of share in the pharmaceutical market of Serbia, and we are recording constant growth in Serbia, as well as in the region and international markets where we operate.

Given the technological development, the recent pandemic and the experience you gained in the biggest Brazilian pharma company EMS and Galenika, what are the biggest challenges in this industry at the moment?

The pandemic has created many challenges in every industry and pharmaceuticals are no exception. Some industry-specific challenges that represent global trends, and that we see in Brazil, Serbia and across the globe, include the importance of a highly qualified workforce, digitization and technological advancement, and of course, the issues with supply chains.

Galenika has been rising to these challenges with actions and innovations that deliver value and ensure efficiency. Our long-term operations take into account network strategy and resilience, digital and operating models, as well as talent. Relying on a qualified workforce is one of the essential elements for progress in the pharmaceutical industry today. In Galenika, we make sure to check all the boxes and invest in knowledge, experience and skills.

We have been familiar with a considerable number of well-known Galenika brands all of our lives. What is the strategy regarding the old brands and what is the focus of your future activities and innovation?

Galenika marked its 77th anniversary this July. It is the oldest pharmaceutical company in Serbia and the oldest pharmaceutical company in the former Yugoslavia that is still in business. According to consumers, pharmacists and doctors, and based on the research results, the core value of Galenika’s products is QUALITY. It is a brand promise that we are not taking lightly.

I am a firm believer that sustainable business requires a proactive, positive impact on society

In that sense, as a future-oriented company, Galenika has established quality systems through the implementation of GMP and ISO standards, which it continuously renews by meeting new requirements of internationally recognized standards. This is a prerequisite for responsible business and it is a step further for Galenika in ensuring competitiveness in the regional, EU and global markets.

Galenika has over 50 products in its portfolio that are over 50 years old which nurture tradition, quality and recognition. We have invested great resources to refresh the traditional products through innovative campaigns, but we are also launching new products and expanding our portfolio in line with the needs of modern consumers, especially in product groups used in the treatment of cardiovascular and infectious diseases. Galenika has managed to register more than 45 products since 2018 in Serbia.

Could you sell your products in the EU? Are you satisfied with Galenika’s expansion in the international markets and the EU? 

Thanks to the quality of our products and business strategy, the internationalization of Galenika is a plan that we have successfully put into motion. Our products – drugs produced in Serbia are available in the markets of the region – in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania. The establishment of Galenika International in Hungary was an important step for us, as it is our hub for the EU market, where we have successfully registered over 20 products.

These results are indicative of team effort and top-quality products. They also demonstrate the company’s potential to compete with its expertise and quality globally. This year, we have opened offices in Croatia and Slovenia. Furthermore, we operate successfully in 13 international markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

How can the pharmaceutical industry exert a positive influence on business, society and the environment?

I am a firm believer that sustainable business requires a proactive, positive impact on society. The key drivers of our business value are investments and innovations, continuous modernization and environmental protection, as well as provision of support to the community in which we operate. I will give you examples of this. A year ago, the company announced a new investment cycle and its focus is on environment protection – improving energy efficiency, as well as work safety.

In addition, realizing that, in the digital age, patients are more and more willing to take more control over their health, the topic of prevention is high on our business agenda. Galenika`s efforts are focused on the strategic development of digitalization and innovation, especially platforms and applications that will have an increasing impact on prevention and the general health of the nation. We have launched a mobile application called Galix this year, which goal is to support the healthy habits of its users through daily insights and advice.

Another example is our online platform “Hello Twenties!” (“Zdravo dvadesete!” – www.dvadesete.rs), aimed at educating young people in Serbia on how to improve and maintain mental and physical health. This initiative is in its third year running and it has a growing, national importance in the prevention and empowering of youth on their path to healthy lives.

We understand that Galenika produces medicines and invests in prevention. What would you say is Galenika`s greatest contribution in that field?

It is a vast field and we try to truly lead by example through Galenika`s slogan: “Devoted to people and dedicated to health”.

We start in our own home, by ensuring the safety and well-being of employees, providing support, management, good working conditions and regular training that provide our team with contemporary knowledge and skills.

We are busy outside of Galenika also – we are expanding the vision externally, through high-quality product portfolio growth, as well as a multitude of partnerships and ongoing support.

Pantenol Pink October is one of the projects that we implement each year, which gives a good depiction of the power of a united effort. Each October, we allocate a part of our income from five products in the Pantenol portfolio and donate it to an institution involved actively in the fight against breast cancer. It is an important project that, on our side, includes raising awareness, on the one hand, as well as providing financial support, on the other.

We also invite our consumers to join and we gain considerable support from our partners – drugstores and pharmacies. It is an illustration of the impact that multiplies with every partner or consumer that joins in.

Thanks to the quality of our products and business strategy, the internationalization of Galenika is a plan that we have successfully put into motion

This year is coming to an end and we all look towards the future. What are the company’s plans for 2023?

International business is an area that we will continue to develop in 2023. Last year, we had significant growth in the region and international markets. Our business ambitions do not end there – in the coming period, our focus is to position ourselves further in the markets of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the MENA region.

Our employees and their expertise are the key factors for a successful business. I am pleased to point out that from, year-on-year, we have been investing more and more in the development of our employees through various types of training.

Investments in quality, technological advancement and capacity growth are also planned. Plus, we will continue to expand and increase partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies in the region and EU.

All this shows our readiness to face the challenges in 2023 and above all, Galenika’s focus on a healthier and better future.

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