Carles Cirera

President of ISPE Spain


With a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of British Columbia in Canada, Carles Cirera is the Industrial Director of the IQL-Nisshin Oillio manufacturing plant, the leading company in the Japanese and Asian market in the manufacture and sale of ingredients for the food, pharmaceutical and industrial lubrication industries. Carles Cirera has worked in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry for the last 19 years and is currently president of ISPE Spain.

As president of the Spanish chapter of ISPE, the sector association with more than 22,000 professional members from 90 countries, what are you expecting from the forthcoming edition of PharmaProcess Forum?
It's now several years since conversations started between Fira de Barcelona and ISPE Spain, with its then-president, Antonio Buendía, in response to the needs put forward by the pharmaceutical industry. The embryo of this project started materialising at Expoquimia, where an initial cluster of companies, suppliers and representatives of the pharma industry started forming under the umbrella of PharmaProcess. This was the starting point, which has now led to the consummation of the PharmaProcess Forum, an ambitious project that aims to catalyse, on an international level, the attention of the leading companies in the pharmaceutical sector, providing a response to the current challenges that companies in this sector need to tackle.

Why is ISPE Spain so firmly in support of holding the PharmaProcess Forum at Fira de Barcelona?
As an international organization, ISPE Spain believes it is fundamental to support and showcase the pharma sector with this kind of event. The experience and success of Fira de Barcelona in the organisation of these types of events in very different sectors is a guarantee of its success. Furthermore, we realised that that up until now there has been no other event in Europe with similar characteristics to those proposed by the PharmaProcess Forum, so it is filling a very necessary gap for the European pharmaceutical industry.

What benefits can PharmaProcess offer professionals in this sector?
PharmaProcess will be the ideal platform for catalysing contacts between professionals and companies in the pharma sector, presenting the latest products and trends in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process and the development of new medicines and industrial biotechnology processes.

Do you think it was necessary to launch a forum like this, which is unique in Europe?
I don't just think it was necessary but, in my view, essential in order to tackle the challenges that the economic situation of the 21st century is posing for the pharmaceutical industry. The PharmaProcess Forum will provide a dynamic and flexible platform for the dissemination of information and the exchange of knowledge and experiences in the European pharma sector.

In your capacity as president of ISPE Spain, can you give us an idea of the current situation of the industry in Spain? And what are the views of Spanish companies and professionals beyond our borders?
The current situation is that the industry in this country is going through a tough time for various reasons, including the drop in the reference pricing imposed by the government, the fall in domestic sales, arrears in paying invoices, and so on. All of this has meant that only the laboratories with an overseas market of more than 70% of their annual turnover are in a situation of being able to ride out the crisis successfully. Sooner or later, the other pharmaceutical companies are going to have to make adjustments to cope with this new reality, or invest, grow and expand into foreign markets as the only means of survival.
With regard to Spanish professionals and companies, the general image they project is one of solidity and good preparedness, to the point where companies and professionals alike are being absorbed and/or recruited by foreign multinationals to consolidate their expansion. This is indicative of the excellent reputation that this domestic sector enjoys in other countries.

Where is the chemical/pharmaceutical sector heading at both a domestic and international level?
The current chemical/pharmaceutical sector has two characteristics that differentiate it from the situation of the sector a decade ago.

The first of these is the radical improvement in the whole sphere of efficiency, continuous improvement and cost improvements in every area of the supply chain. The implementation of concepts that first saw the light in the automotive industry back in the 1980s (Kaizen, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, etc.) has translated into palpable and measurable results in the laboratories that have started using them.
The second noteworthy characteristic of the pharmaceutical industry, whether European or North American, is its total commitment to the environment. This means that when establishing user-level processes for solvents and raw materials, the choice is to use those that have the least environmental impact in terms of emissions and waste. Also, technologies and machinery are being designed in accordance with the concept of minimising waste and optimising energy and water consumption.
Both of these characteristics have meant that in recent years the pharmaceutical industry has aligned itself with the values prevalent in present-day society.

Finally, how do you see the future of the industry?
The challenges facing the current pharmaceutical industry will lead to the emergence of stronger and more dynamic companies that are capable of responding to the new needs that will emerge. For this reason, I believe that the path we have embarked upon to improve efficiency, technology and environmental responsibility is the right one to tackle the new scenario successfully.
The integration of biotechnology in the production processes of new medicines will also represent a significant advance which is already starting to materialise for certain laboratories. Although there is still a long way to go, the steps that the industry has taken in this direction augur a very promising future for the companies that have made a firm commitment to this field.