Boehringer seeks organic growth
Boehringer Ingelheim Korea aims to continue its solid march forward on the back of organic growth with its strong pipeline, a strategy that boosted the company during the first decade of the new millennium.
Engelbert Tjeenk Willink, who heads global marketing and sales of the company’s pharmaceutical division, made the remarks Tuesday in an interview with The Korea Times.
``I hope I won’t disappoint you. Our future plans are not particularly spectacular as we have no acquisition plan. We have full portfolios and we have a number of products we believe deserve better places in the market,’’ Willink said.
In fact, the pace of the firm’s organic growth here is far from disappointing as the entity saw annual turnover jump by double digits on average over the past 10 years.
The outfit has a variety of products for hard-to-treat and chronic diseases and recently its daily supplement capsules Pharmaton and anti-constipation drug Dulcolax have been gaining popularity.
``The essence of our strategy is to make our pipeline in all segments available to the Korean public,’’ he said.
Along the same lines, Willink said that the company has no immediate plan to set up a research and development center in Korea but promised continued investments.
Boehringer Ingelheim channels around 20 billion won every year in research into Asia’s fourth-largest economy and has designated the country a hub in Asian clinical tests by staging phase-one studies here.
``Korea is a very important market. It is not as big as China but it is large and developed and has high-quality and well-developed health care and a public insurance system,’’ he said.
In regards to the Seoul administration’s step of substantially cutting the prices of drugs with expired patents, Willink said that it is a welcome policy, unlike most multinational drug companies here.
His idea means that the financial leeway made via cutting prices of off-patent products can lead to innovation, which he says is a crucial factor in the medical industry.
Starting April, Korea’s drug prices plummeted by up to 14 percent as the government slashed price tags for about half of the medicines covered by medical insurance.
Especially affected by the discount policy were original patented medicines that now cost the same as generic drugs or sometimes cheaper.
Boehringer Ingelheim entered Korea in 1976 and has become one of the top-tier players in the domestic medical industry.
Its outgoing CEO Guenter Reinke led the fast growth here since 1997. This month he was replaced by Dirk Van Niekerk.