EC Reviews: An Executive Country Review on Turkey - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

EC Reviews: An Executive Country Review on Turkey
In the wake of economic growth, healthcare reforms, and large-scale industry investment, Turkish pharmaceutical companies are charting their own destiny.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 32, Issue 10, pp. 94-103

With 2007 revenues approaching $200 million, Nobel has historically been one of Turkey's top local players, bolstered by in-licensing agreements with multinationals such as Altana (Wesel, Germany) and Vitabiotics (London) and an extensive generics portfolio in major therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal. Its market leaders include the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, "Etol," and "Tylol Hot," for cold relief.

Nobel also offers contract research services through its research and development (R&D) center, Fargem, Turkey's first independent R&D institute. The company wants to expand its R&D investments in Turkey and is conducting a Phase II study in cooperation with a US company.

"We are aware that the future lies in new developments," says Ulusoy. "Thus, we are also looking for partners with whom we can develop new projects."

Becoming a Global Brand

Profile: Bozlu Group

Şükrü Bozluolçay, (All photos are courtesy of EC Reviews.)
Established in 1990, Bozlu Group is fast developing into an international leader in nuclear medicine and radiotherapy. The group is comprised of eight companies, three of which specialize in nuclear medicine: MNT provides nuclear medicine and radiotherapy services throughout Turkey; VOSS distributes and provides services for the radiotherapy machine manufacturer, Varian Medical Devices; and Monrol serves as the country's foremost radiopharmaceuticals producer.

In July, Monrol sold 50% of its shares to Eczacibasi in an effort to hasten its expansion. It completed a fourth production site this year in Izmir that produces isotopes for PET scanners. In 2009, Bozlu Group plans to manufacture radiopharmaceuticals in Romania and Dubai. During the next five years, the company hopes to have a presence in North Africa, Central Asia, and throughout Europe.

"We find that when we go abroad from the Turkish business market, we are respected," says Bozlu Chairman and Founder Şükrü Bozluolçay. "American companies always contact us when they come to this region, sometimes bringing other companies with them."

The group continues to invest in new technologies for both radiotherapy and diagnosis, foreseeing a pivotal role in molecular imaging. At its research and development facility in Istanbul, Bozlu plans to develop radiopeptides that can simultaneously image and treat certain diseases specifically.

Bozluolçay envisions annual growth of at least 20% for nuclear medicine worldwide and predicts the group will reach annual sales of $100 million by 2012.

"We have more flexibility than big companies," says Bozluolçay. "We have strong technology and logistics and with that, we hope we can fight competition and meet our targets."

Building Bridges to Foreign Markets

Profile: Bilim Pharmaceuticals

Bülent Karaağaç, (All photos are courtesy of EC Reviews.)
The towering growth of this 55-year-old manufacturer has been iconic of the remarkable inroads made by Turkish generics companies in recent years. On the heels of significant investments in chronic disease therapeutic groups, Bilim Pharmaceuticals has become Turkey's second largest pharma company, with 2007 sales of $370 million and 85 million units.

The company has presence in more than 40 markets and exports to 24 countries worldwide. With a newly completed production site outside Istanbul, it hopes to soon export to European Union nations and the United States.

"We are trying to adapt ourselves for these markets," says Bülent Karaağaç, Bilim's president. "The new plant will be the key element in this development strategy."

Bilim also plans to use the new site's 125-million-unit yearly capacity to attract toll-manufacturing partners and to expand exports to Turkey's neighboring markets where it has formed marketing teams. Building upon a menu of 120 products, the marketing-oriented company plans to continue launching 10–20 drugs per year in the areas of diabetes and respiratory, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems. With ever-growing challenges brought by Turkey's intense generics competition and a more restrictive regulatory environment, Karaağaç says Bilim is positioned to sustain double-digit growth in the coming years.

"If you know how to play by the rules, you don't lose," he adds.


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