Against an alluring backdrop, big-name pharma brands are now starting to spend heavily on in-country manufacturing, development and shared service facilities in Spain.
Spain has exceedingly high youth unemployment. However, the country simultaneously possesses some of the best business universities, technical schools and hospitals. This means that it is very easy to source affordable, but high-quality talent
Boehringer Ingelheim, for its part, has chosen to situate key global functionalities in Spain, including an IT support centre established in 2015, now with a staff of over 400, as well as three regulatory affairs centres. Furthermore, in June 2017, the company announced a EUR 130 million (USD 150 million) investment in its Sant Cugat del Vallès manufacturing facility in Catalonia.
Timmo Andersen, former general manager of Boehringer Ingelheim Spain and now senior vice president head of Europe, Canada and Australia, reveals that, “what the new investment will accomplish is the integration of the production of Respimat, the cartridge and the applicator of a medication for the treatment of respiratory diseases, which will be distributed worldwide. This is a very strategic product that will give us sustainability for the next 15 or so years. All in all, this is an immensely exciting development and will involve the creation of a further 250-300 jobs.”
Noting the rationale behind these big-ticket Spanish investments, Andersen points out that, “Spain has exceedingly high youth unemployment. However, the country simultaneously possesses some of the best business universities, technical schools and hospitals. This means that it is very easy to source affordable, but high-quality talent.” He continues, “manufacturing in Spain is significantly cheaper than it would be in Switzerland or our home country of Germany, and yet we can still produce top notch, reliable products suitable for export all around the globe.”
Another German pharma heavyweight, Bayer, has been following suit pursuing heavy capital injections into upgrading its hardware and rendering Spain a keystone of its global supply chain infrastructure. “If we take a look at the numbers for 2017, for example, overall, we invested EUR 33 million (USD 38 million), EUR 13 million (USD 15 million) of which we invested in infrastructure, among other projects, improving plant quality and updating office spaces. The remaining EUR 20 million (USD 23 million) was invested in R&D,” recounts CEO, Bernardo Kanahuati. Its API plant in La Felguera in Asturias produces the entire group’s acetylsalicylic acid, the active component of Aspirin. The company’s production plant in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, meanwhile, constitutes the sole Bayer plant to produce soft gelatin capsules and doubles up as an important site for innovating new encapsulation technologies.
In a similar vein, Pfizer’s production plant in San Sebastian de los Reyes, Madrid, is notable for being the only Pfizer plant in the world that manufactures, packages and distributes recombinant products for the treatment of hemophilia A and B. “This is a critical facility because we distribute products manufactured in this plant to 15,000 patients spread across 75 different countries,” explains CEO, Sergio Rodriguez.