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

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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

Success in Small and Simple

Profile: Berko Ilaç


Berat Beran, (All photos are courtesy of EC Reviews.)
Before founding his company in 1984, Berat Beran was selling anti-parasitic products and orthopedic shoes to neighboring pharmacies and mixing chemicals in his laboratory in Diyarbakir, a province in southeast Turkey. He applied this homespun, innovative spirit to his company in Istanbul. Since 2003, Berko Ilaç has grown its revenues from $4 million a year to $25 million in 2007, relying predominantly on an over-the-counter product portfolio that includes vitamins, minerals, nasal sprays, and its market-leading zinc products. Berko has carved its place in Turkey's pharmaceutical industry by putting a new spin on old remedies, such as combining fish oil with gingko biloba or mixing folic acid, omega oil, and garlic to help lower cholesterol.

"In this market, I told myself I should do things small and simple, things that no one has thought of and that no one has done before," says Beran, the company's board chairman. Berko has 18 products registered in Romania and is creating a subsidiary in Lebanon. Going forward, Berko would like to open a new production site in three years with an annual capacity of 60 million bottles; form toll-manufacturing agreements with European companies; and establish sales and marketing franchises in seven foreign markets.

"I see Berko as a multinational company; this is my ideal," he says.

Gaining via Local Investments

Profile: Novartis


Güldem Berkman, (All photos are courtesy of EC Reviews.)
The Swiss-based mega-multinational has a presence in Turkey dating back to 1959, with the advent of its generics unit, Sandoz. Novartis (Basel, Switzerland) has since become Turkey's top revenue-generating pharmaceutical company, with a market share of nearly 8% and 2007 sales eclipsing $700 million.

Combining Sandoz's generics products and Novartis' original over-the-counter drugs and veterinary medicines, the company covers the entire life cycle of a drug. With 10,000 molecules currently under experimentation, Novartis plans to expand its portfolio in the areas of cardiovascular and respiratory treatments, oncology, and neuroscience. "Patients continue to want better medicines with better efficacy and fewer side effects," says Güldem Berkman, head of Novartis Turkey. "We have a broad healthcare portfolio addressing changing healthcare needs." With 2000 employees and four production sites, Novartis Turkey is the country's largest pharmaceutical exporter, to more than 120 countries. The company expects its facilities in Turkey's industrial zone to receive FDA approval by end-2009, in time to supplement its high-growth operations in the US. In June, Sandoz executives met with Turkey's Health Ministry about bringing biosimilars to market and introducing more quality, high-tech medicine.

Setting Global Benchmarks

Profile: Biofarma


Umur Südekan, (All photos are courtesy of EC Reviews.)
Since its acquisition in 2006 by Citigroup and the Austrian financial group, Pils, Biofarma has been riding a giant wave of growth that seems yet to have reached its crest. Sales in 2007 exceeded $130 million, catapulting the Istanbul-based company from a national pharmaceutical company ranking of 32nd to 21st. Biofarma achieved this position with a portfolio of products that cover more than 20 therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular, pain management, and diabetes, a sales team of 550, and exports to 14 countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain. It also provides contract manufacturing services for major multinationals and local manufacturers.


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