Giuseppe Allocca, Technical Operations Executive Director,

Alfasigma

"We currently have five ongoing development projects in gastroenterology, three of which are already in clinical development, and another R&D project for the treatment of venous and arterial disorders."

Could you introduce Alfasigma to our audience? Alfasigma is one of the top five Italian pharma companies and number 118 globally. The company was born out of the merger of two main Italian players, Alfa Wassermann and Sigma-Tau in 2015, but the roots of the company date back to 1948. As of May 2021, Alfasigma counts a total workforce of 3,000 people, of which 1,800 work in Italy. Our revenues are proportionally split between the domestic and foreign markets, and our products reach 70 countries, 17 where we have a direct presence through a subsidiary. Alfasigma’s 2020 turnover was at over 1 billion €.

What are the main markets where Alfasigma sees opportunity? We see the US, China and Russia as fast-growing markets where we could further develop, and we are advancing several projects in these countries. Alfasigma produces a blockbuster drug in US and other markets [rifaximina]. US and Europe together account for about 25% of our international sales. In terms of therapeutic areas, gastroenterology is our legacy focus; we have recently acquired the rights to market Lumeblue and bentracimab in Europe and other markets, and we have various products in the pipeline for gastrointestinal and CNS therapeutic areas.

What are the latest R&D developments at Alfasigma? We are investing in a new R&D facility in Pomezia that we will inaugurate next September; the site is designed to reaffirm our focus on gastroenterology, vascular diseases and neuroscience, but we are also expanding our biotech capacity, looking closer at rare diseases. We currently have five ongoing development projects in gastroenterology, three of which are already in clinical development, and another R&D project for the treatment of venous and arterial disorders. We are also partnering with a number of Patient Organizations, Universities and start-ups – such as the case of NOVAVIDO in Ophthalmology – in order to leverage open innovation and be more and more patient centric.

Alfasigma announced a new leadership model in 2019. What does this entail? We adopted a new leadership model that seeks to strengthen our governance by prescribing five behaviors: act with team spirit; drive innovation; communicate clearly; do the right thing and more; and provide value for people. Our mission to improve health and quality of life set the basis for everything we do, from R&D to marketing and manufacturing operations, so the five pillars spell out our vision and values in more practical terms for each member of our team with the support of very dedicated management.

Could you share what role does Alfasigma plays as a contract manufacturer? Alfasigma will never be only a CMO company – we are an R&D-based organization whose growth is leaned towards innovation, but we see an opportunity in the CMO market to put our capabilities to use and gain customers in the medium-to-low volume products of high complexity.

What is your outlook for the Italian pharma industry? Italy is one of the key pharma hubs in Europe and the growing elder population makes chronic disease management a top priority. The Italian national healthcare system is facing challenges in terms of its long-term sustainability, so the need for affordable treatments will only be growing. Alfasigma partners with pharmacies, physicians, authorities and other organizations to find the right balance in providing affordable drugs. As we emerge from the pandemic, Italy’s post-pandemic recovery plan submitted to the European Union will support the build-back of the economy through strategic investments in digitalization, research and infrastructure modernizations.

Could you share a final message? As mentioned, Alfasigma is in a transformational mood, a new management has been introduced across our operations and we are inculcating a new culture for the company, preparing for the next big challenge. We’d like to play an even more strategic role in the Italian pharma industry, and we have a very ambitious target to climb up in global rankings from 118 to top 100 global pharma companies. To do so, we expand both organically and inorganically, we invest heavily in R&D, we are recruiting more talent and are engaging partners from all over the world for licensing and acquisitions.

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