Isidro Alastrué

Director of Chemical Operations at Almirall


With a Pharmacy degree from the University of Barcelona, Isidro Alastrué has an impressive professional track record of over 38 years in the sector. Since 2008 he has been Director of Chemical Operations at Almirall, the pharmaceutical company founded in Barcelona in 1943 which, over the years, has become an international benchmark in the pharmaceutical sector.

The first edition of the PharmaProcess Forum is being held this October. As a well-versed expert in the sector, what do you think about this initiative?
PharmaProcess is an essential event for sector professionals, as this is a congress which offers them the opportunity to get updated information on the main issues concerning the chemical/pharmaceutical industry. In just two days there will be a forum on pharmaceutical innovation in the areas of biotechnology, development and processes; an exhibition of the leading companies in pharmaceutical processes, and presentations by renowned international experts.
This is a fantastic opportunity to attract the latest pharmaceutical trends in Europe in the unique setting and surroundings of Barcelona.

At such a difficult time as the present, what do you think the PharmaProcess Forum can bring to the sector?
The forum aims to create a space for debate that is ¿unprecedented in Europe', allowing for the exchange of knowledge and experiences in the innovation, organisation and technology of pharmaceutical processes, with the aim of optimising their resources. PharmaProcess will be the first interactive platform for optimising the production process of medicines, providing first-hand information on the state-of-the-art of the pharmaceutical process, with the participation of the most renowned experts in this sector.
Barcelona will be the centre of process innovation for greater efficiency in the management of pharmaceutical plants and their related processes, as well as providing the latest information on the regulatory processes of the sector. At PharmaProcess people will be able to make beneficial contacts with other professionals, offering great business opportunities.

Which are the issues of most concern to the pharmaceutical industry at a national and international level?
The pharmaceutical industry is not immune from the adverse international economic situation. On top of this is the impact of cutbacks in healthcare expenditure over the last three years in Spain, which has led to a decline in the pharmaceutical industry's turnover of almost 35%, pushing figures back to where they were in 2003.
At Almirall we are working hard to offset this situation. To do so, we are researching and producing medicines from our own R&D and licensing with the aim of improving people's health and wellbeing. The areas of treatment where we're targeting our research resources are respiratory, gastrointestinal, dermatology and pain management. In this respect we have a business project based on three cornerstones: maintaining our position of leadership in Spain, the internationalization of the company and, most importantly, an absolute commitment to R&D.

What are the present and future trends in the industry?
As far as we are concerned, the key is to act in three areas: the sustainability of the system, the protection and promotion of innovation, and increasing social awareness of our brand value. We feel optimistic about the future and we're ready to continue implementing our business vision to the best of our ability and honing our professional performance in order to obtain the best results for all our stakeholders.

You are the Director of Chemical Operations for Almirall, a Spanish multinational that enjoys considerable international prestige. Can you explain how the company has achieved this?
Over the last decade, Almirall has successfully carried out a process of internationalization, focusing on Europe. Our marketing capacity extends to 22 countries through 14 subsidiaries in Europe, Mexico and Canada. In 2014, we hope that our international turnover will represent about 70% of the total, and we hope to have 15 subsidiaries by 2015.
For Almirall, internationalization and innovation are the keys to producing medicines that improve people's health. This mentality has driven us to achieve some major successes in times such as these. In the past year, a compound produced by Almirall for chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), Aclidinio, has become a therapeutic solution that is available to patients in a number of countries around the world.

At such a difficult time as the present, what opportunities are available to the pharmaceutical sector both nationally and internationally?
The current situation calls for companies to adopt a new production model so we can continue to provide society with new, distinctive and innovative therapeutic solutions. Almirall's business model, based on R&D and sales through our own subsidiaries or strategic partners, is the key to our current position of leadership and the gateway to future opportunities.

What characterises the Spanish pharmaceutical sector? Is it competitive in foreign markets?
Recent reports such as the Pharma Survey 2013, published by KPMG, note that the vast majority of managers in this industry say that the regulatory changes in the sector have had a strong impact on the net sales of their pharmaceutical products, and point to the Royal Decrees passed in the last few years in Spain as being responsible for the drop in sales. In this scenario, it is obvious that opening up in foreign markets is crucial. In the case of Almirall, our internationalization is essentially based on the cornerstone of R&D, as it has been the medicines resulting from our own R&D which have given us our foothold in foreign markets.