STADA – World-Beating Partnerships

By acquiring and forging partnerships with innovative firms across the pharmaceutical sector, STADA is creating unique, value-added medicinal products.

STADA is an internationally active pharmaceutical company focusing on three main product areas. The first of these is Consumer Healthcare such as cold remedies, vitamins and mineral supplements, which makes up roughly two-fifths of the business by sales. Then there are Generics, medicines sold through doctor’s prescriptions that are follow-on versions of drugs whose patents have expired, with the same dosages and active ingredients. The final fifth of STADA’s turnover is Speciality Drugs. These are medicines typically prescribed by a specialist and that have some sort of differentiating factors, such as special distribution or storage.

“These are value-added medicines, based on a known active substance but with additions that bring added value to patients such as new formulations, or new uses of known active substances,” explains Aidan Fry, Director of External Communications for the company.

STADAs is active in 120 countries worldwide, with an annual turnover of a little over 3 billion euros. While the company is based in Europe, it has built a significant presence in emerging markets including the Middle East and selected markets in Asia.

“Some of the deals we do are on a broadly global or pan-European level. The majority of our business is in emerging markets,” Fry says. “We are not really present in the US and Latin America, but we do local and regional level deals. We have done some speciality deals in the Middle East and North Africa for eye care products and cancer drugs.”

What it brings to those markets is an astoundingly broad portfolio of literally thousands of products that cover everything from biological cancer treatments to mineral supplements. STADA is able to offer these while continuing to expand this portfolio thanks to its unique ability to forge valuable, productive partnerships.

“One of our unique selling points is our ability to partner effectively. Last year we did 88 business development deals across the portfolio,” Fry tells us. “In the past year, we struck a deal with one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies to distribute their portfolio in 20 European markets. We have just picked up another award for our business development team, that has been widely recognised across the industry.”

Innovation Through Collaboration

As to how these partnerships have borne the vast range of innovative products STADA has to offer, Fry says, “It is about bringing in incremental innovation.”

One example of this “incremental innovation” is the work STADA has been doing in the area of Parkinson’s Disease therapies for many years.

“We have a UK subsidiary, Britannia Pharmaceuticals, and over the past year we have acquired another company with a product that is rolling out increasingly in European markets,” Fry explains. “It is a gel product, delivered through a pump mechanism that you wear on the body. The combination of the three active ingredients it uses was known in tablet form but had never been available in intravenous gel, delivered directly to the intestinal tract. The reason that is an advantage is that as patients with Parkinson’s move into the later stages of the disease it becomes increasingly difficult for them to swallow tablets and they need higher doses. So, the pill burden becomes quite extreme, patients could find themselves needing a large number of tablets a day.”

STADA’s solution provides a constant pump, Bluetooth enabled so doctors can monitor it and change the dosages to provide tailored therapy. None of the active ingredients in this solution are absolutely new, but they have never been available in this triple combination.

“It is giving new therapeutic options to patients and their caregivers, doctors, and nurses,” Fry points out.

These products are the result of combined internal, organic development, and STADA’s partnership model. As well as the gel solution, STADA is also behind a new application for an active ingredient in a widely known respiratory disease treatment delivered by inhaler.

“We partnered with a Swedish company called Calliditas who are developing it to treat a rare kidney disease through an oral technology that delivers it to where it is needed in the body,” says Fry. “The company we work with on this rare kidney disease treatment has a drug technology that protects the tablet until it gets to the point of the body where it needs to be delivered.”

Forging the Right Partnerships

This strategy of partnering with companies that possess particular technologies and finding new applications for them has become STADA’s trademark, but also there is also in-house innovation.

“For example, we enjoyed some considerable market success with a modified version of a widely used cancer drug,” Fry says. “The original effectively came in a vial that had to be constituted at point of use, mixing it with a solvent. Obviously, a lot of these treatments, because they are designed to kill cells, are toxic within themselves. So, there is a danger to the healthcare professional. We developed a ready-to-use liquid formulation of the drug to avert that.”

The innovation model across the business is based on looking at what consumers need. One of its biggest brands, for instance, is Zoflora disinfectant.

It is an approach that has seen STADA become a growth leader within the industry, and that in turn attract talent.

“We have a track record of typically out-performing the market, and that in itself increasingly attracts talent to the business,” Fry says. “The business development deals we do also give us a certain degree of profile within the industry. We work very hard on having a unique corporate culture with a clear corporate purpose- caring for people’s health as a trusted partner. There are not many companies with that degree of deal-making.”

The key is finding the right companies to make these deals with and seeing what they have to contribute.

“It depends on the particular facet of the business, but what we are looking for is products that are differentiated,” Fry explains. “We want to work with reliable partners, trusted partners, but I think on the consumer side particularly we look for innovative technologies or ideas around products. Some of the areas we look for include a speciality around the central nervous system to complement our strength in Parkinson’s. We also have a wide global network of partners we use for our supply chain, from manufacturing products to supplying raw materials, building these partnerships over time.”

With this track record of strong partnerships and an enviable product portfolio across Consumer, Speciality and Generics, STADA’s strategy stands it in good stead for the future.

“What we look to do is find products to let us continue to outgrow the industry, that is very much our vision,” Fry says. “Part of how we’re going to do that is by being a go-to partner. You make sure the deals you do work for both parties, and that snowballs on itself.”

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