The pharmaceutical company MSD invests 76 million euros a year in R&D in Spain, where it has 1,330 employees
What is MSD?
At MSD we invent and work to make life better, progressing toward the discovery of new therapies for pathologies like cancer, hepatitis C, HIV and antibiotic resistance; in areas like women's health, immunology and anesthesia, among others; and in developing new vaccines. Our total portfolio includes 70 products on prescription in these areas. We have 126 years of history, and this year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary in Spain.
What goal did the company set itself when it first arrived in Spain?
The goal that has driven MSD's progress and development throughout its history is its commitment to contributing to health and well-being worldwide through the search for new ways to treat and prevent disease. By way of example, we could mention the discovery of cortisone, the first measles vaccine, antibiotics like streptomycin, and the first antiretroviral medication, a protease inhibitor which represented the chronification of the HIV infection. Thanks to our constant research effort, we have developed pembrolizumab, an immunotherapy treatment approved in Spain as a monotherapy for the treatment of advanced melanoma and metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the third most common cancer and the first in number of deaths in Spain. Immunotherapy is today one of the most significant advances in modern medicine, as is confirmed by the choice of pembrolizumab as one of the ten scientific milestones of the year by the journal ‘Science’ in December 2017.
What infrastructure do you have in Spain?
Some of the key figures for the company in Spain are: a turnover of 1.17 billion euros; sales in human health of 1.04 billion euros with a market share of 5.4%; sales in animal health of 119 million euros with a market share of 19%; and a total of 1,330 employees. The key figures for R&D&i show that MSD in Spain invests 76 million euros (the Ministry of Industry's Profarma Plan) and participates in over 80% of the company’s research studies worldwide; it is first in the company in terms of clinical research activity in Europe, and third worldwide. MSD's Animal Health division has had an animal production plant in Salamanca since 1974, staffed by 254 employees and with over 90 products for poultry, ruminants and fish, which exports to over 50 countries. We believe that investment and innovation are largely based on knowledge transfer and collaboration with other healthcare agents. A good example of this is the Medina Foundation, a public-private Center of Excellence for Research into Innovative Medicine. One year ago we transferred our collection of microbial cultures to this Granada-based institution, thanks to which it now has the world's largest library of microbial cultures in a single place.
Do you collaborate with any kind of institution or company?
MSD has a manufacturing agreement with the pharmaceutical company Rovi in Spain, which exports over 90% of its production. 48% of the business figure in animal health corresponds to the intracommunity market and exports.
MSD is the result of an exceptional collaboration between healthcare professionals, government authorities, universities, research centers, private sector companies (Rovi, Ferrer, Almirall and Faes) and many other institutions.
What investment does the company make in Spain?
Needless to say, investment is one of our most essential aspects, if not the most essential. Just to mention a figure, MSD's annual investment in R&D in Spain is around 76 million euros. In regard to employment, MSD in Spain has been recognized on several occasions with the Top Employer Spain certification as one of the organizations with the best working environment. We have also been distinguished by our ten years' certification as a Family Responsible Company (EFR) –the first pharmaceutical company to achieve this– and we have been recognized by the Ministry of Health for our long-term commitment to the work-life balance and equality. In 2017, we were among more than 40 companies to be honored in the fourth edition of the Intrama: Diversity and Gender Awards, among other accolades.
What other important investments have you made?
In the last decade, MSD has invested over 43 million euros in our animal health product manufacturing plant in Salamanca, making it one of the most important in the world. It is currently in being expanded to incorporate a new vaccine facility.
What is Spain's importance in MSD's strategy?
Spain is a strategic country for the company and the subsidiary plays an important role within the group. In fact, when Kenneth Frazier, our global chairman and CEO, visited us one year ago, he noted that thanks to the employees' commitment, hard work and dedication, MSD in Spain continued to be a leading healthcare company. He also said that the profits we had obtained had fueled the company's growth and that the team's commitment made a real difference.
What projects do you currently have underway and what are the upcoming challenges?
Our continued commitment to research and development is key for a biopharmaceutical company like ours. In fact, our future is guaranteed if we can continue to come up with solutions for healthcare needs that have not yet been met. This is our challenge: to continue researching to find those answers.