2020 is the year Recipharm celebrates 25 years of CDMO business. Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Thomas Eldered looks back upon milestones, crucial turning points and the company’s goal of simplifying a product’s journey to market.
The journey of Recipharm began in 1995 with the buyout of a solid dose facility in Stockholm, performed by two employees of the selling company, Thomas Eldered and Lars Backsell. Eldered had knowledge of manufacturing and of the facility and Backsell had market and product development experience. The facility included a portfolio of around 20 established pharmaceutical products and the new company began its development.
“It is a little surreal to think back to 1995, when we were first known as Recip. Back then we just focused on making the most of the opportunities we had, there and then.”
”Over the past 25 years, Recipharm has grown a considerable amount, not only in terms of employees but also when it comes to our culture, customers, and service offering. It is a little surreal to think back to 1995, when we were first known as Recip. Back then we just focused on making the most of the opportunities we had, there and then,” says Thomas Eldered, CEO and co-founder of Recipharm.
In 2001 the brand name Recipharm was established for the growing contract manufacturing part of the business. Fast forward to today and the company, still with its headquarters in Sweden, includes around 30 manufacturing and development facilities globally. It currently has a unique position as one of the top five global CDMO (Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization) in the pharma industry.
”Whilst there are several companies offering development or commercial only services, there are very few offering end-to-end services from development to commercialization of pharmaceuticals, and in particular with concurrent inhalation and autoinjector devices,” says Eldered.
The road towards becoming one of the top five CDMOs in the world has included a lot of acquisitions, adding new technologies, more diverse dosage forms, and new customers. Between 2001 and 2007 six facilities were acquired. In 2007 outsourcing had become a priority and the company decided to focus fully on the outsourcing business. Rights to products were sold and the company’s position as a pure CDMO was established.
Recipharm was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in April 2014, and in the same year it made three important acquisitions, the Milano based Corvette Pharmaceutical Services Group, Portugese CMDO Lusomedicamenta Sociedade Técnica Farmacêutica S.A and a Flamel Technologies development facility in Pessac, France.
The year afterwards Recipharm acquired Uppsala-based OnTarget Chemistry, strengthening its development services offering, and a facility from Alcon in France, adding the blow-fill-seal technology. That same year the company also initiated the acquisition of a majority stake in Indian CMO Nitin Lifesciences, creating a platform for emerging markets. The deal was finalized in April 2016, and Recipharm acquired the remaining shares in Nitin Lifesciences Limited in January 2018.
Since then, acquisitions have included Italian CDMO Mitim, Kemwell’s CDMO businesses in the US, Sweden and in India, Roche manufacturing facility in Leganés, Spain, and Sanofi’s inhalation contract manufacturing business, including a manufacturing facility located in Holmes Chapel, UK.
Finally, a very important milestone that makes Recipharm what it is today is its recent acquisition of Consort Medical in February 2020. The acquisition of the UK-listed company Consort Medical made Recipharm into one of the largest CDMOs in the world in terms of revenue.
”In particular, the acquisition adds innovative medical device capabilities to our offering and enhances our inhalation development and manufacturing services,” says Eldered.
Impact of COVID-19
Similarly to almost every business, Recipharm has been impacted since the outbreak of COVID-19, however the level of this impact has been manageable, states Eldered. Since the start of the pandemic the company has experienced some delays in the supply of starting materials and API. These delays have had little to no impact on the operations, however, since part of the company’s contingency plans have been to increase safety stock levels.
”We have seen demand largely unaffected, but a significant increase in demand for certain products used in intensive care. The safety of our employees is top priority and following additional risk assessments we have implemented enhanced safety protocols, a no visitor policy and workflow adjustments in order to maximize social distancing. When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), our teams have taken a new approach to procurement, sourcing PPE for all our European sites at once. This means we have been able to order larger quantities of PPE in one bulk order, which we then distribute to all of our European sites. In addition to this, our regional and international Recipharm teams have been pulling together and supporting their local communities, frontline health workers, healthcare facilities and hospices at this testing time by donating PPE.”
Encourage an entrepreneurial spirit
The international expansion outside Sweden was a crucial turning point in the history of Recipharm. The company’s global operations are now located in France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, UK, and the USA. Over 9000 people from different cultures around the world have been brought together.
So many acquisitions and such a fast global growth of course requires efforts to get everybody on board and create a strong corporate culture.
”Recipharm’s strong corporate culture is reflected in our core values – Reliability, Professionalism, Entrepreneurship and Tenacity. We are an entrepreneurial business and as such we encourage all our operating companies to operate with a high level of local authority and accountability to promote fast decision-making, exploring local opportunities and employee satisfaction. We do this while maintaining our high standards and ensuring effective collaboration between teams to deliver an integrated service to customers. When Recipharm acquires a new company, we encourage an entrepreneurial spirit and promote diverse thinking,” says Eldered.
“Our employees and their expertise make us who we are today.”
Recipharm has never been only a two man-show, he emphasizes. ”There are a lot of people who have made invaluable contributions over the years. Our employees and their expertise make us who we are today.”
For the future, Eldered says that the company has an excellent platform with several opportunities to explore.
“We are among the top five CDMOs in the world, but I believe we are positioned to go much further.”
”We have hopes to continue our rapid growth, both organically and inorganically through acquisitions driven by customer demand on a global basis. Having built this company brick by brick over the past 25 years, we have a fantastic platform to capitalize on the latest trends and developments in the pharmaceutical and CDMO markets. We are among the top five CDMOs in the world, but I believe we are positioned to go much further.”