In more than 30 years of business, Medis has established important cooperation with leading global pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies. The mission of the company is to ensure the availability of innovative life-changing medicines to every patient, regardless of where they come from. We talked with Marija Delimar, director of Medis Adria d.o.o., about the strategic guidelines for the future of the company.
How did your journey into the pharmaceutical sector begin?
I have always wanted not only to treat but also to prevent the development of diseases and that is why I decided to become a molecular biologist. I was hoping that I would be the one to discover some gene therapy and prevent the cause of some rare disease. Studying molecular biology at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia, enabled me to follow the latest discoveries in this field, and to acquire a wide range of knowledge and competencies.
However, upon completion of studies and co-authorship of some scientific works, I realized that the possibilities of employment and adequate valorisation of the work of a molecular biologist at that time were not in line with the needs of a young person at the beginning of their career. Fortunately, I graduated in December, and in January of the following year, Medis announced a contest for the position of a sales representative.
Medis has always offered and sought innovative solutions for unmet medical needs, especially for rare diseases that have always been the subject of my interest. The job I got at Medis at the time was dynamic and challenging, and it allowed me to stay close to my profession. Twelve years later, I am satisfied that by working in the same company I am largely achieving the goals from my youth, because Medis still brings new solutions to patients and changes their lives.
Initially, Medis was present in only a few countries, and today you cover a large part of Central and Eastern Europe, but also the Baltic countries. What do you provide to your partners in these markets?
Medis' strategy so far, and I believe it will continue to be so in the near future, has been focused on small countries in Central and Eastern Europe, small markets such as Austria, Croatia or Slovenia that may not have the same opportunities as large markets such as France or Germany.
Our goal is to work with partners to make innovative therapies, medical products or medical devices as accessible to patients in small countries as to patients in some larger markets. On the other hand, we provide our partners, multinational companies, in the markets in which we operate with a complete infrastructure, specialized experts, sales channels and modern multi-channel marketing technology needed for successful, reliable and measurable implementation and monitoring of activities.
In addition, we have been conducting business in our markets for over thirty years, and we know the specifics of each country. We provide everything needed in order to successfully inform all stakeholders about a certain medicine, from the registration of the medicine, coordination with the insurance companies in the process of including a medicinal product in the list of medicinal products, through professional support for healthcare professionals, pharmacovigilance activities, quality assurance to medicine distribution. Through all the above, we offer multinational companies whose direct presence in a small market is not profitable a business model that is confirmed successful, as well as benefits which have already been recognized by many large companies.
COVID-19 has affected all sectors, including the pharmaceutical sector. In the Croatian market, we are witnessing some uncertainty and a withdrawal of innovative companies from the market. Is an opportunity for new collaborations opening up for Medis?
The worst thing that can happen in a situation of withdrawal of a certain company from a market is that their medicines disappear from the market, i.e. they become inaccessible to patients who need to get them or already use them. In such situations, Medis plays the key role in ensuring that patients continue their treatment without interruption, that there is no delay or interruption of therapy, and that we maintain the standard of treatment we currently have.
Our business model ensures the availability of existing therapies, but also the arrival of future new therapies that these companies produce to our markets, without delay compared to other markets in which they are present.
Can we soon expect some new therapeutic solutions for Croatian patients thanks to Medis’ partnerships?
We are most pleased when in our markets we make available therapies that represent a significant step forward, the first option in the treatment of diseases for which no therapy was previously available, such as spinal muscular atrophy or now Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Over the past year, we have entered into new partnerships with manufacturers of innovative medicines from Israel, Portugal and the United States of America, and we have expanded our portfolio with innovative therapies for certain retinal diseases, Parkinson’s disease and sleep disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders.
The arrival of these therapies to our markets will meet the needs for which we currently do not have an adequate treatment available and bring benefits to the patients, but also to the healthcare system.
In addition to new partnerships and changes in the visual identity of the company, have you implemented also any structural or organizational changes within the company?
Medis currently offers 140 medicines from various therapeutic areas in its portfolio. We ensure the availability of important medicines for intensive care treatment, for certain neurological diseases, inflammatory rheumatic diseases, glaucoma, pain treatment, rare diseases, etc. In addition, we also offer medical products, food supplements and medical devices.
Therefore, in order to optimize our business and further improve our approach and professional support, we have established four strategic business units: Medis Therapeutics – which includes innovative medicines and medicines for rare diseases, Medis Consumer Health – for medicines sold without a prescription and other products for the health and well-being of the human body, Medis Hospital Care – specializes in diagnostic programmes, medicines, consumables and equipment for hospitals and community health centres, and Medis Aesthetics – focused on aesthetic medical products. We believe that such segmentation and specialized focus will further contribute to the quality of our services in these key areas.
Part of Medis’ strategy by 2025 is to change the company’s visual identity. Our new heart-shaped logo describes our courage and passion in achieving our goals, as well as the values of our company and its employees.
Although Medis is a company primarily engaged in marketing of pharmaceutical products, have you also developed some of your own medicines?
Our medicines, Rosacta and Ladiva, are an example of the company’s innovativeness which was the first in the world to have developed such medicines in this form and of such high quality. Rosacta is a herbal medicine in the form of a cream, intended to relieve mild pain in muscles and joints and mild peripheral circulatory disorders, while Ladiva capsules are a completely new therapeutic option, a traditional herbal remedy for symptomatic relief of menstrual cramps in adult women. Both medicines are registered in 24 European countries and are already available in many of them.
From year to year, Medis’ innovation is confirmed by the contest for outstanding research achievements in medicine and pharmacy, the International Medis Awards. A month ago, applications were opened for this year’s contest. Last year’s awards ceremony took placeonline. What are the plans for this year?
Back in 2014, we had the idea to award those clinicians who, in addition to their daily clinical work, also engage in scientific research, and whose contribution may not have received an adequate response within the profession. Over the past seven years, from 1154 valid research works (of which 221 were submitted from Croatia) an international expert jury awarded 65 best research papers from nine countries, and among them they recognized as excellent contributions to science the research works of as many as 12 Croatian experts. Last year, we also had a special award given to the University Hospital Centre Zagreb, whose employees overcame all challenges of earthquakes and the pandemic with almost superhuman efforts.
Applications for the contest for outstanding research achievements in medicine and pharmacy, the International Medis Awards for Medical Research, are already in full swing. Researchers who have published their outstanding scientific research papers in renowned scientific publications with an impact factor of more than 1.500 can compete for the eighth international award for the best research work of doctors and pharmacists from Central and Southeast Europe.
All of the above, our activities and plans for the future further confirm my decision to work in this industry because it allows me to indirectly contribute to the well-being of patients and healthcare systems. Every one of us will at some point be a user of that system – my mother, my child or myself – so I want to know that we have done everything we could to achieve a better tomorrow for all patients.
First published in Magazine Pharmabiz
Number 58, July 2021