Emilio Gagliardi, Chief Executive Officer of Servier Bulgaria, on the importance of cutting edge medicines and the strive to succeed in the highly competitive pharmaceutical field
For a year now, humanity has looked with hope to pharmaceutical companies. But while the limelight is focused on development of vaccines against Covid-19, a significant part of the fight for better health has been fought in the arena of development of effective medicines for serious chronic diseases.
Servier is a company that has focused on these issues for years now. This is why we met with the man responsible for its Bulgaria-based operation: Emilio Gagliardi.
Emilio Gagliardi has been the Chief Executive Officer of Servier Bulgaria since October 2019. A graduate in molecular biology from the University of Florence, Italy, and with a master's degree in Finance, he has 20 years of international experience in the pharmaceutical sector, covering various managerial roles in Europe and Latin America. Emilio Gagliardi is the Chairman of the Board of the Association of the Research-Based Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers. He explained to Vagabond's readers how Servier navigates the business environment and the challenging context.
Servier invests heavily in science and development of new medicines to chronic diseases. What are its main targets?
Looking only at the legal form of Servier, it is an independent international group managed by a foundation. Therefore, all profits are not distributed and are invested in research and development. We are moving in two different directions: developing our core portfolio in chronic cardio-metabolic diseases and investing in oncology and innovation. In oncology we have recently had a great acceleration in Bulgaria, we have had the opportunity to register four solutions in the country in areas where there are still great unmet needs, two on colon and pancreatic cancers, another on non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and finally an essential solution to the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This was a great achievement.
So far, we have received excellent feedback from Bulgarian oncology experts in this regard and we look forward to supporting patients even more.
What are the latest trends in treatment of chronic diseases? How do you apply them in your work?
The Covid-19 pandemic made us realize how vulnerable patients with chronic diseases are. In these fields we provide a wide range of solutions. In the cardiovascular sector we are the leading company in Bulgaria, our commitment to fight hypertension is concrete with innovative solutions such as the single-pill combinations. They can provide effectiveness and improve treatment adherence, which is extremely important in a country with a very high stroke incidence like Bulgaria. This year, we will also launch new medicines in Bulgaria that combine the treatment of various risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol levels. We are confident that patients will benefit greatly. On diabetes we have a long-standing partnership with healthcare professionals and with the patient association. It allows the support of development of projects totally dedicated to patients such as the training of special dogs as personal assistants for people suffering from type 1 diabetes. These dogs can anticipate the arrival of hypoglycemic crises by concretely improving the quality of life of families and patients involved.
What, in your opinion, is the future of pharmaceutics?
In Bulgaria there is a need for greater public health spending in general and also on pharmaceuticals. The Covid-19 pandemic has just accelerated this need everywhere. The healthcare system should understand that healthcare money is an investment and not a cost. Aware of the demographic challenges, it is a fundamental theme for the development of the country, both to retain people and to attract even more.
However, although price regulation in Bulgaria is extremely restrictive, with the price being the lowest in the EU, this situation does not have an easy solution as public funds are limited and more resources are needed to pay for innovative medicines. But I am pleased to see that efforts have been made and some agreements have been reached which have resulted in a growing budget this year and wider market access for high quality medicines, although in combination with cost containment initiatives such as the claw-back system and further discounts. Indeed, the process is not perfect and risks being unpredictable and unsustainable in the long term: a change of approach is needed.
Dogs trained to help diabetic patients
Building eHealth capabilities in Bulgaria is another important cornerstone for the future, it could help the country gain transparency as well as effectiveness in public health spending. Advantages on diagnostics and outcomes are also obtainable and without any doubts they will be able to simplify the patient's journey and support the daily work of doctors. We, the pharmaceutical industry, have a lot of experience in this area and are willing to support the government on this path. But, from my point of view, this is more of a long-term project rather than a quick win.
As a leader in the pharmaceutical field in Bulgaria, what are Servier's most important achievements?
We have been in Bulgaria for 27 years. Servier opened its subsidiary in 1993, which is quite unique for a large pharmaceutical presence in the country.
I believe that our satisfactory evolution in the country has been driven by our ethical approach and our very targeted product portfolio with robust, reliable and cost-effective solutions, which is crucial for the CEE region in general and Bulgaria in particular, which target key national burdens such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. But, in addition, we have supported our solutions with a highly qualified and talented team. We continue to invest heavily in training courses to ensure that our human capital remains at the forefront of medical knowledge across all our therapeutic areas. Furthermore, we continuously devote a significant amount of resources to medical education activities by bringing world-class opinion leaders to Bulgaria to share their insights with local medical talent. Our commitment to support Bulgarian healthcare professionals and patients is concrete and solid.
A personal question: What do you like most about living in Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a place where it is easy to find a professional-personal balance. The social environment is friendly, I find many similarities with my origins in Southern Italy. The rich history of Bulgaria, its culture and beautiful nature fascinate me a lot. Unfortunately, the pandemic crisis limits many activities, but the country allows quick escapes and I try to take advantage of them whenever I can, especially in the countryside which is truly extraordinary.
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