Roche says goodbye to the bad numbers of the pandemic as the level of care recovers. In addition, Spain remains at the head of the investments of the Swiss multinational. elEconomista speaks with its general director in Spain, Stefanos Tsamousis, who also explains the change in mentality in which the pharmaceutical company is immersed.
Is Roche seeing an economic recovery after the 2020 slump caused by the pandemic?
Indeed; This week the results of the third quarter were released, reflecting an 8% growth in the group’s sales at constant change, which has made us revise upwards the forecasts for the year as a whole. The main factors that explain this increase are the demand for coronavirus tests, which has remained high due to the Delta variant, as well as the behavior of the new drugs launched and of the diagnostic platforms.
As regards the pharmaceutical division, it grew again in the third quarter, in this case by 5%. We hope, therefore, that during this year and next year the path of recovery will be confirmed, which I understand is general for the sector as a whole and constitutes good news for everyone.
This week the results of the third quarter were released, reflecting an 8% growth in the group’s sales at constant change, which has made us revise upwards the forecasts for the whole of the year
What investment plans does the company have in Spain?
At this moment we are at the forefront in investments in biomedical R&D in Spain, with more than 64 million euros per year according to our latest closed data, from 2020. If to this we add investments in innovation in infrastructures and other chapters within In this area we would be talking about almost 140 million euros a year.
These data speak for themselves of our commitment to Spain, where we have been present for more than 90 years. Spain is also, after the United States, one of the main destinations for investment in clinical research, which we must not forget that it is intended for studies carried out in hospitals and public and private centers, and which involve not only possibilities of early access of the Spanish patients to innovative therapies,
What are the new drug launches planned for 2021/2022?
At Roche, we are very happy with the progress we are making with our product portfolio, and as regards Spain, this year we were able to communicate the availability of our Tecentriq immunotherapy for small cell lung cancer, as well as cancer of the triple negative breast. In both cases, they are aggressive tumors for which there had been no improvement in a long time.
In addition, this year we have been able to add to our product portfolio in Spain an important onco-hematological innovation with the approval of Polivy for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory Diffuse B Lymphoma (LBDCG) who are not candidates. to a hematopoietic stem cell transplant.
We hope to continue in the same vein in 2022, and to continue communicating good news like this to offer new alternatives to patients in the pathologies in which we have been working, especially onco-hematology, diseases of the central nervous system and rare diseases, but also to expand our field of action to new therapeutic areas such as ophthalmology.
At the group level, we hope to end the year with two new molecules and five new indications approved in Europe, without forgetting that we currently have 17 new molecules in the final stages of research or in the approval phase, which represents an 80% increase compared to the last decade.
We currently have 17 new molecules in the last stages of research or in the approval phase, which represents an 80% increase compared to the last decade.
The therapeutic area that first comes to mind when discussing Roche is oncology. Are you going to bet on or reinforce other therapeutic areas?
It is true that we are very strong in oncology and hematology, but as I said before we are working in many other areas, such as neurosciences, where we have an important portfolio of products under development against pathologies such as spinal muscular atrophy or multiple sclerosis; or ophthalmology, where this year we have received European approval for a product to treat an autoimmune disease that causes blindness and other problems.
Roche has in the EMA a product for the coronavirus in the real-time evaluation process, tocilizumab. When do you think it can be used by people who need it?
Tocilizumab received an Emergency Use Authorization in the United States in the middle of this year for the treatment of Covid in hospitalized adults and children under very specific conditions, although we continue to analyze the scientific evidence regarding this drug through various international clinical trials. In addition, we have a new drug, Ronapreve, co-developed with Regeneron, which is a combination of antibodies indicated to treat patients with Covid and which is available in 40 countries.
The European Union has already started the procedure for its approval and Spain will have the units required by the Autonomous Communities in accordance with a European centralized purchasing procedure, the last phase of which is being finalized by the regions themselves.
Does Roche have sufficient manufacturing capacity so that it does not happen as it happened with the vaccines at the beginning of the year?
At Roche, we have been working for several months to increase our production capacity for certain products, having even reached agreements with other companies to join forces in the case of specific drugs. However, we can say that, despite the enormous difficulties posed by the pandemic, in general we have not stopped supplying our products to patients who need them.
The company is immersed in a profound change in its structure and philosophy. Why are you motivated?
The digitization of healthcare, the advancement of personalized medicine, with new, increasingly specific therapies based on the molecular profiles of each disease and increasingly aimed at smaller groups of patients, the new way of dealing with biomedical R&D with an increasing use of data analysis and artificial intelligence tools ?? All of this forms a new scenario to which we must be able to anticipate in order to respond to the needs of patients not just today, but in the future.
The profound transformation process in which we are immersed on a global scale is framed in this context, which seeks to establish a new relationship with health systems, health professionals, managers, administrations and patients, to better respond to their demands. And what they are asking of us is more science, research, added value. We want to become an eminently scientific ally of the health system, and for this we have decided to end the traditional business model. We want sales networks, we want scientific networks. We do not want to limit ourselves to providing medicines, we want to offer science.
We have decided to do away with the traditional business model. We don’t want sales networks, we want scientific networks. We do not want to limit ourselves to providing medicines, we want to offer science.
One of the most striking changes is in human resources. Do you think flexibility will help the company reach its goals faster?
Without a doubt, we want our professionals to be able to carry out their work in the best possible conditions, with all the means that we can offer and also in a way that they can reconcile their professional life with their personal and family life, and we think that this is truly possible within of a 100% flexible model. From this month our employees can choose at any time, through an app on their mobile, when they want to work from home and when to come to the office, where there are no longer offices or assigned positions.
Before we have put at your disposal a wide range of aids and incentives so that those who so decide, and on the days that they consider appropriate, can carry out their professional work from home with all the guarantees. This model is based on the utmost confidence in our professionals.