Regional Managing Director of Boehringer Ingelheim (Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region)
“Across the region, we aim to drive programs that fulfil unmet medical needs and help save lives”
Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading research-driven pharmaceutical companies headquartered in Germany, is committed to improving patients’ lives. “Hospitals” magazine had the privilege to meet with Enrique Manzoni, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Regional Managing Director (Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region) to talk about his journey with the prestigious company and discuss the healthcare sector in the region as well as digital technologies among others. Below is the full interview:
Can you give us a brief about yourself and your journey with Boehringer Ingelheim?
I have been in the field for almost 40 years and with Boehringer Ingelheim for more than 30 years, working across a number of leadership functions while also running various investment portfolios with the underlying aim developing successful operating business models.
I first joined the company’s office in Argentina before moving to the company’s headquarters in Ingelheim, Germany in 1992.At that time, I was responsible for providing global controlling support for the pharmaceutical production business, covering over 20 plants worldwide.
Following that, my responsibilities were further expanded to manage the full range of finance and administration activities in Greece then, Italy. Prior to joining the region, I had the responsibility to manage the company’s regional business volume of €700 million in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden, based in Amsterdam, including 1600 employees and four manufacturing facilities.
Specifically, in META, Middle East, Turkey and Africa region, I am the Regional Managing Director. My role is to help drive the company’s growth and partnership initiatives across various business areas for human pharma and animal health.
Can you describe the healthcare sector situation in the region and how do you evaluate the role of Boehringer Ingelheim in impacting the sector?
With a focus on personalizing care delivery for patients, our strategy to reach our innovations to patients in the region is three-part- driving awareness and preventing disease; boosting partnerships and increasing local manufacturing and accessing new markets. Across the region, we aim to drive programs that fulfil unmet medical needs and help save lives- to support economies with the growing burden of long-term chronic disease and increasing costs. Analysts expect the pharmaceutical market in the region to grow to around $50 billion by 2025.
Recognizing the potential of the region and to bridge its unmet medical needs, we are committed to introducing the latest innovations and solutions here. In 2019, the company is planning 12 new launches and a registration of 61 products across META.
In Africa, we launched the ‘In Reach Africa’ program, which is an initiative that aims at facilitating quality and innovative human and animal healthcare access across the African continent. It includes a range of key elements that aim at adding more value to overall health systems, in an effort to drive access to care, support with the development of innovative health solutions, creating community-based partnerships and raising awareness around key disease areas as well as prevention mechanisms.
On a market level, in Algeria, we have partnered with our partners, Abdi Ibrahim Remede Pharma, to produce our innovative hypertension medication. This investment seeks to enhance the technological capabilities and capacity building with Algeria. Moreover, production of our type 2 diabetes medication is well on its way in 2019 as part of our plans to expand on the company’s portfolio of innovative therapies.
Moreover, in Egypt, we continue to support patients and healthcare specialists through The Angels Initiative by support in enhancing and certifying stroke units in hospitals, as well as providing the necessary training for medical professionals and aligning them to global stroke management protocols.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia, a strategic market for Boehringer Ingelheim, is focused on ensuring access to healthcare and medication to the patients in need. We have adopted a robust approach towards our local investments and continue to align our objectives with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. We are committed to the development of integrated, people-centered health solutions to help equip underserved communities with sufficient knowledge, expertise, infrastructure and means to ensure their ongoing access to health. Research especially within cardiovascular diseases, immunology and oncology, will continue to support our growth. At 2.8 billion euros, research and development investments in human pharmaceuticals corresponded to a 22.1% share of human pharmaceuticals’ net sales. We continue to develop breakthrough therapies and healthcare solutions in areas of unmet medical needs; access remains the core of our business and values.
What are your expectations for the current year 2019 for the region?
In 2018, Boehringer Ingelheim’s performance in the META region has resulted in the company becoming recognized as the 3rd fastest growing pharmaceutical multinational across the region for the human pharmaceuticals business. We have also achieved a strong performance amongst top 20 corporations compared to overall market performance with a growth rate of 15.5% vs 13.9% in the region.
In 2019, we are confident about our future outlook in the region positioned for further growth. During this year, we are planning 12 new launches and a registration of 61 products across the region. In addition, Boehringer Ingelheim will continue to drive its footprint across Africa by investing in access to healthcare programs to drive innovative healthcare solutions for low-income patients and enhance the sustainability of healthcare in the African content under the InReach Africa Program.
Globally, the digital transformation is being harnessed across the different phases: Research, pre-clinical development, clinical development and post approval phase to support our ability to reach even more HCPs and patients.
Digitalisation is changing the healthcare sector, how Boehringer Ingelheim is taking advantage of the digital technologies in improving patients’ life?
We are driving the digital transformation with many different initiatives in all business areas. Over the course of 2018, Boehringer Ingelheim has strengthened its HCP-facing digital capabilities significantly in the META region, by adding multiple platforms that focused entirely on customer experience and education.
For example, we developed the IPF application (Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a type of chronic lung disease characterized by a progressive and irreversible decline in lung function., Boehringer Ingelheim META developed a tool designed for doctors, which displays key information on how to diagnose, treat, and manage patients and more. It also provides interactive tests for healthcare professionals to get a better understanding of what IPF-positive results are like. The application facilitates two-way feedback in should doctors have questions that need to be answered.
To address patient concerns, we developed an SMS tool which gives healthcare professionals a direct supporting platform to educate patients with COPD.
The PATSU program directly helps patients see and understand how to use their medication through an interactive video delivered on their phone, by their doctor, or through the PATSU online tool. The tool has already been trialed and launched in Lebanon and will be rolled out to other markets in META.
Do you think the Middle East is ready to embrace the changes that the digital transformation is about to make in the healthcare industry?
Absolutely. The region is more than ready to embrace and integrate technology in healthcare. Globally, mobility is a major part of the overall digital healthcare solutions market. So the impact, and opportunity are huge.
According to industry experts, Middle East healthcare providers will spend over $80 billion in technical capability expansion and digital innovation under healthcare services. Moreover, consumers and healthcare professionals believe that use of mobile devices can help clinicians better coordinate care. While, overall the infrastructure is yet to be developed, we continue to see advancements that are driven by the UAE and KSA in particular. Some key trends in the region include smartphones, apps and wearables will empower patients, doctors and care givers. Big data will also uncover patterns, problems and opportunities in healthcare, and telemedicine will expand healthcare into our homes and beyond.
In your opinion, how are pharma companies investing in the digital transformation, and do you see Boehringer Ingelheim being a pioneer in shaping the industry?
Technologies that help facilitate digital transformations will fundamentally reshape how the industry operates from portfolio planning, to drug development, consumer marketing, to finance and other business functions. For Boehringer Ingelheim, digital transformation helps us to improve efficiency, pharmacovigilance, uncover business opportunities, and build a stronger relationship with patients and healthcare professionals.
Globally, we are using a wealth of digital solutions to foster innovation along the entire pharmaceutical value chain. From research to production, patient care and in our work environment, we use digital transformation to innovate faster and better – for the benefit of humans and animals.
For example, in clinical trials, globally, we are currently exploring ways that could potentially change mental health illness diagnosis. Using artificial intelligence technology, we have been developing digital speech analysis tools that could potentially bridge the existing gap and allow for a much earlier diagnosis and identification of patients with diseases like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s in the future.
Globally as well as regionally, various online platforms are supporting knowledge dissemination, boosting learning and virtual workshop possibilities, encouraging the advancement of the industry overall, changing how we operate and how we deliver value to patients and healthcare professionals.