What makes it possible for Amarin, a small player, to compete in the big leagues of the transdermal market? Here are the reasons in the voice of our Director & CEO, Sergio Lucero.
Lucero is one of Amarin’s founding partners. In this article he tells us how commercial success goes hand in hand with the company’s values and the importance of the human team. He also tells us what are the objectives for the future.
His testimony will help us appreciate the importance of passion in business and how it has influenced Amarin’s place in the transdermal market today.
Sergio Lucero is a Certified Public Accountant who graduated from the University of Buenos Aires. Throughout his career, he has been dedicated to Foreign Trade and/or Business Development.
He has been working in the pharmaceutical industry for 38 years. He began his career in 1983, as Head of the Import-Export Department of Laboratorios Beta S.A. Between 1985-1991, he worked as Operations Manager of Farmacéutica Uruguaya S.A. in Montevideo (Uruguay). Upon his return to Buenos Aires in 1992, he held the position of International Operations Director of Laboratorios Beta S.A. until 1996.
In that year, he was in charge of the negotiations for the incorporation of Ethical Pharmaceuticals Argentina SA. A company that was born under the “spin-off” model, where the Ethical UK, bought the transdermal sector of Laboratorios Beta. Due to his restless spirit, Sergio’s work became important until he became the Business Development Manager of the English company.
In mid-2001, Ethical UK asked him to find a buyer for the Argentina site. At that moment, he proposed to the senior scientists of the laboratory, Dr. Stefano and Dr. Gabach, that the three of them, as managers, buy the shares from the company. Thus Amarin Technologies S.A. was born.
In 2004, he got Amarin and the German company Helm AG of Hamburg to partner in the development of the Fentanyl patch. In this project, Lucero supervised the construction of the production plant in La Rioja, which on August 15, 2006, received the GMP certificate from the European authority.
With his transparent negotiations, and overcoming cultural differences, Sergio managed to forge a bond of trust with Helm AG. As a result in 2010, the European company became a shareholder of Amarin.
Today, he is Director & CEO of Amarin Technologies S.A. and its majority individual shareholder.
Amarin, the first company to develop transdermal patches in South America, has earned a place among the major companies in the sector worldwide.
In this aspect Lucero highlights “Amarin is proudly part of this group and being, I believe, the smallest player, the one with the smallest number of people (36). There are companies dedicated to this that have a development and research team of much more than 36 people, (…) That is why we are very proud of our achievements”.
One of the keys that have allowed Amarin to belong to this group is professionalism. In this regard, Lucero points out that his team “holds discussions with first-world companies on an equal footing”. At the same time, he confesses: “The only thing I might envy these companies is the economic resources they have”.
Another key is flexibility and adaptability to the client. Amarin is characterized by “being respectful and complying with all international regulations on the technical side, but complementing it with a flexible attitude in dealing with customers”. Because “large companies have their corporate schemes and it is difficult for them to adjust to the needs of each client”.
He confesses that being in Buenos Aires, Latin America could be a competitive disadvantage with respect to companies located in Europe or the USA. In this context, he says: “many companies may prefer other companies that are larger or offer a better-known name, because they may think that they are more regulated or better”. However, he says that by focusing on their own advantages and working with international standards, they have been able to overcome this prejudice.
For Amarin, it is not just a matter of achieving the desired product, but of making the process transparent and constructive. This is possible thanks to the team and the values they embody.
When referring to professionalism, he talks about skilled people “but who should not be closed and inflexible”.
In addition to academic training, working with passion is valuable at Amarin. Lucero recalls that he once told his work team: “I have one wish for you: that you have passion in what you do”. Because he explains, “passion means an intense emotion that reflects the enthusiasm and the desire to do something. I have no doubt that those who are passionate about what they do have a plus. Just like a professional soccer player, who gets paid, but if he plays with passion, if there is a team that is passionate and there is cohesion, that team will stand out”. The same happens at Amarin.
Flexibility is Amarin’s differential as a partner for the development of transdermal projects. In this aspect, Lucero explains, “What I always say is that we have to have a scheme for each client. Because each client is different”. Large companies work with pre-established schemes and models. Amarin offers a plus by telling the client, “I offer you the same service, but tell me what you need, because we can talk about it”. It is simply adapting to the client’s needs.
The secret of Amarin’s commercial success is also based on the values that run through the entire process, even from the moment an inquiry is received.
Lucero emphasizes that beyond closing a deal, they seek to create a bond with the companies, which is why commitment is so important. In this regard, he states: “We never take on development or task without knowing that we can commit to fulfilling it. The client must always be able to count on us. We have an internal policy that obliges us to answer any query in less than 48 hours, and if we don’t have the answer, we reply saying that and we commit a specific time to provide it. The reason is very simple: If someone asks us something it is because he needs that answer and answering immediately is part of our respect for our client”.
As mentioned, Amarin seeks to establish long-term human and commercial relationships. To this end, Lucero confesses that “transparency is essential in our convictions, in our actions, in our capabilities and in all aspects of our professional life. Nothing can be built based on the convenience of a single party or on deceit”.
In this regard, he remarks: “If there is something the client needs and we cannot do it, we give him the advice so that he knows who can do what we cannot do. Because we would be very wrong to commit ourselves to something we can’t do”.
When asked about short, medium and long-term objectives, Lucero does not hesitate to clarify that deadlines in the pharmaceutical industry are long. As an example, he cites the case of the development of the Fentanyl patch: “We started working on it in 1999, when we were part of Beta, and the first export was in 2007. These are the deadlines of the pharmaceutical industry”.
“The short-term objective is to supply the needs of our customers throughout Latin America with our plant”. He clarifies “that it is not simple because it means hiring more people, investing and overcoming growth problems. Because when you are focused, when you put your heart and passion into it, you can achieve your goals”. At the same time, he explains that when referring to the short term, he is talking about 2022 to 2025.
On the other hand, “we have to face the medium-term today (…) we have 4 or 5 projects, it is all investment, it is all research, it is all work and we will have the results in 6 or 7 years”.
Finally, “in the long-term, I have a great objective, which does not depend 100% on me. Just as I have a strategic commercial partnership with Helm AG, I have the illusion of establishing a strategic partnership of Development and Production with a company that is in patches, that already exists in the United States or Europe. That we can make a synergy between the development capacity that exists, because we can take more personnel, because there are plenty of capable and intelligent people in Argentina. A company that has a greater production capacity than us, because with our plant we can supply Latin America and even a small product in a large market. For example, we can be the product developers and our partners can implement the manufacturing and we both win”.
As Amarin’s Director & CEO, Sergio Lucero, points out, to achieve a lasting relationship with a commercial partner in the development of transdermal products, flexibility, professionalism, transparency and commitment are key. Values that, as in the case of Amarin, are imprinted in the daily work of the team that works on your project.
We would like to become your business partner for the development of your transdermal product. Contact our team and let’s start talking.
We offer expertise and experience, together with flexibility and the ability to adapt to your needs.