‘2010 will be a milestone year’

‘2010 will be a milestone year’

Competition has always been tough, if you don’t get better year on year, you lose says Marc Haemel, Managing Director, Rexam Healthcare. He talks about the key reasons for the Group’s consolidation and strategy for the year ahead with Usha Sharma

What is the rationale behind Rexam’s consolidation of assets and expertise of its three healthcare packaging businesses into one division: Rexam Pharma, Primary Packaging and Prescription?

Indeed, our healthcare division continues to develop at a steady pace despite the recession. However, the consolidation of our businesses is not driven by the current environment; it is a result of our strategy to lead the industry in pharmaceutical packaging and devices. With this new entity, we will focus our strengths to better serve our customers and patients. We are implementing a fully customer-oriented organization.

As the designated head of the newly formed Rexam Healthcare entity, what do you see as your primary goals and key responsibilities for the next financial year?

My primary goal is to leverage the assets of the new organization to bring maximum benefit for our customers. To reach that goal, we will bring together the great teams we have in the three businesses to create an even better Rexam Healthcare.

You will be heading 16 factories and 3370 employees, what are the key concern areas you envisage and what will be your strategy to solve these?

This consolidation is not about streamlining, it is about establishing a sound base for expansion. We have experienced continuous growth over the last six years and we will pursue that journey in the coming years. We will need the experience and the enthusiasm of all our teams to reinforce our leadership. The consolidation of primary packaging with the pharma division is a great asset: Rexam Healthcare is now the only company to have a strong position in healthcare containers and closures across North America, Europe and India. We are in a great position to continue our expansion especially in Bangalore. We have already duplicated product lines for ophthalmic products and solid dose from Europe and the USA into our new best-in-class Indian facility. We are also in the process of transferring the expertise in drug delivery devices to the teams in Bangalore.

What are the flagship technologies developed by Rexam group?

We have put the stress on innovation and our team has been working to develop the solutions that consumers need. In healthcare, we have a strong expertise in precision plastic injection, injection blow moulding and high-speed automated assembly. However, technologies are only a part of what builds up our expertise. Certainly, in the healthcare division, we rely on our regulatory knowledge to support our customers, we manufacture according to cGMP so that patient get safe and high-quality packaging and devices, we implement the highest quality and validation standards and our program management teams is key to deliver successful projects.

What are the new products under development in Rexam Pharma, primary packaging and prescription?

We rely on our technology centers to develop market driven innovative products. Among our programs, we can mention a new generation of nasal spray pump, innovative metering valves for inhalers, preservative free multi-dose eye droppers, safety systems for pre-filled syringes, multilayer barrier containers, new innovative lighter, patient-friendly child resistant closures and RFID enabled containers.

What are the consumer and industry trends shaping this research pipeline?

We are striving to develop safe, compliant, patient-friendly packaging and devices. Senior-friendly, simple and easy-to-use products mean that patients will take their medicines the way they should and will improve their health. At the same time, we are looking to improve safety. For instance, we develop devices that allow the removal of allergy-triggering preservatives, we protect patients, nurses and doctors from potentially lethal needle stick contamination and we develop the best solutions to protect our children from dangerous drugs.

We are looking for solutions to better protect drugs and deliver them in the most efficient way to the patient. We contribute to effective therapies.

Could you give us some indication of when these products will hit the market?

2010 will be a milestone for Rexam since several of our major programs will bear fruit. Our customers will launch stability programs with our preservative free eyedropper, our new nasal pump and our pMDI valve. Our safety system for prefilled syringes will be fully validated by the end of 2009. In the closures segment, we keep introducing new concepts.

Overall, which products account for a major section of your business revenues?

Rexam Healthcare has a comprehensive portfolio. We have a strong business in drug delivery devices, especially dry powder inhalers and insulin pens but also implanters and dose counters. We are the leading supplier of containers and closures both for solid dose and ophthalmic drugs. We are getting stronger every year in nasal spray pumps and metering valves for inhalers. Lastly, we supply medical components and assemblies.

Did you see stiff competition globally?

Competition has always been tough. If you don’t get better year on year, you lose. It is our challenge to improve our cost base through lean manufacturing. However, the key is to bring value to our customers thanks to our expertise in regulatory, program management and innovation. It is when we include patient insight in product development, when we act as an adviser on regulatory aspects of our products and when we bring innovation breakthroughs that we really make a difference.

Are you looking for further expansion and from which markets?

We have established a strong base in India, Europe and North America, which gives us a truly global footprint. In addition, we can build on Rexam Plastics manufacturing network to expand in new areas such as China or Brazil. As always, we will be only present through 100 percent healthcare dedicated plants. We believe that patients’ health requires specific care and we need our teams to be fully dedicated. For the next year or two, we will focus on consolidating our existing businesses and expand through organic growth.

What role will emerging markets like India play in your plans?

We have recognized India as a truly strategic market and a key for our growth. The Indian pharma industry is very dynamic and we want to contribute to its expansion with the right level of support for high quality packaging and devices. This is why we acquired Truepack in Bangalore and why we built a brand new facility that is now among our best. We know that we will expand it very soon; we have the team to succeed. On a personal note, I want to say that I enjoy especially our relationship with our Indian teams and customers. The very high degree of professionalism, the energy and the business ethics make it special for us.

Please share your future plans?

We are looking ahead to develop our teams and leverage synergies to focus to create one Rexam Healthcare with a global approach.

u.sharma@expressindia.com