Fertin Pharma is preparing for a period of heightened prosperity by investing in new facilities, as it anticipates a rise in individuals who attempt to cease using cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Most recently it has invested in a nicotine science centre at its headquarters in Vejle, Denmark, which also houses a research and development laboratory (R&D), quality assurance centre and new packaging facilities alongside the manufacturing plant. An R&D centre has been built at its division in Mumbai, India too.
This is part of a strategic planning process for the 100-year old firm which it intends to act as a foundation for future company growth, as much of Asia tightens its tobacco regulations and smoking cessation seemingly becomes an ever popular notion in what is now considered emerging markets for Fertin.
At present the company is sitting on a 35 percent of the world market for nicotine gum, and that equates to 90-95 percent of the business. The company also has a 50 percent shareholding in a tableting facility in Vancouver, the focus of which is predominantly dietary supplements for the North American market.
Søren Birn who is CEO of Fertin Pharma, said: “We have invested heavily in skills, capability and infrastructure so that we have state-of-the-art facilities which produce medicated gum according to cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practice) in three factories, one of which is US FDA-approved.
“Since we are completely B2B, we of course engage in business development when our core partners allows us to, and they deal with the marketing and distribution of the product. If you develop and manufacture good products and a skilled core partner deals with the sales and distribution of a product market that keeps growing, it adds up and solidifies the entire value chain.”
Constantia Flexibles has supported Fertin in developing a child resistant blister packaging for a customer as well as in optimising the functionality of child resistance and senior friendliness of existing products. Furthermore Constantia could achieve essential improvements in the manufacturing process of alternatively peelable blister lidding foils. It has been working with Fertin on a supply chain level very closely since years in order to being able to supply packaging foils for the company’s production in due time.
Currently there are 1.1 billion smokers and tobacco users in the world and most of them are reported to reside in China, India and South East. This means Fertin Pharma’s investment in Indian facilities is intended to mean manufacturing will be closer to the future consumer pool. With the R&D centre built and a factory construction underway, the company is striding ahead in its international plans.
Birn said: “Those countries that are considered emerging markets are the countries where we consider the economy to be capable and ready for our products. And when those markets open up for things like smoking cessation methods, we will invest. You see these nations are tightening their tobacco regulations again and again, and that is probably a good indication that smoking cessation is becoming a popular trend in those markets.
“In India, that regulation is already in place so it makes sense to invest there. We have a very structured and discipline approach as to the timing of such decision; and in India the time was right. China is not that far away either and we will be ready to pounce.”
Fertin Pharma has subsequently been ensuring its training and employee skill set for its 600-strong workforce is up to the highest standards to withhold the expected future growth in business.
It currently has three training programmes for leadership development, talent identification and a high calibre programme where specialists carry out theses in their specific professional fields. Each year three to five employees are invited to participate in the two-year long talent programme where they are able to increase business acumen, as well as research and presentation skills to compliment the individual’s technical specialism.
The company also has a tradition of working with leading European universities, and through this it often takes on master’s students and people in an advanced stage of their studies via Fertin internships, who go on to become integral to the operation. It has an ongoing project with a university department, renowned for robot technology, with ten students who are looking at automation strategies for the company.
Due to the nature of the business, Fertin Pharma has been installing an international nicotine science centre with the purpose of gaining sufficient, detailed knowledge of the nicotine molecule and its application to smoking cessation.
For more than a decade, Contraf-Nicotex-Tabacco from Germany has acted as the main nicotine supplier to Fertin, providing not just nicotine but nicotine polacrilex and nicotine bitartrate too. It has a close strategic relationship and both companies continue to synergise on other projects, underlying their commitment to continuous improvement.
Fertin also has several mutually beneficial projects with PhD Doctors and ongoing collaboration with various higher education institutes, namely Scandinavian, German and Austrian universities.
Birn said: “We have some quite renowned Professors on our advisory board in regards to nicotine science and we do collaborate a lot with universities and get a lot of benefits out of it; and I hope they do too. We have been working with several of them for many years so I guess if they didn’t get anything out of it they wouldn’t do it.
“I certainly think it helps the products we make, we are not making oncology or cardiovascular products or anything like that. But still our products are made with the purpose of improving people’s quality of life and health and to get them off a habit which is definitely very dangerous. So there is a definite purpose to what you develop and manufacture.
“We only develop and manufacture, then we partner up with the marketers who bring the products to the channels, patients and consumers under their own developed brands. We work with some of the leading pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis and Glaxo Smithkline.
Quitt nicotine gum is one of Fertin’s own products available for license and supply. Its customers sell the products under their brands, and it could be sold as Fertin’s own label as well. The firm does packaging too but its customers develop the strategy and marketing.
Set for growth
Birn stated Fertin has a clear 2020 strategy and the aim is to become one of the global leading companies within nicotine over the coming years, by broadening the firm’s position so as not to be from solely a nicotine gum perspective. Although it will continue investing in this area, it wants to command a position as an expert company on all facets of nicotine.
For him it is not a revolution; more an evolution to get there but that is what the company is determined to do and are very steadily building towards the goal. It is also why it has created the nicotine science centres in Denmark and India. Backed up by a fully integrated ERP system, in addition to an extensive IT system in the research and development laboratories, Fertin has the tools it needs to for continued success.
Birn said: “Over the last 25 years Fertin Pharma has made a consistent and dedicated effort to continuously develop nicotine gum of improved quality and efficacy for tobacco cessation. We need engaged partners and scientists within our research areas to realise our ambition of continuously developing next generation products providing smokers access to more and more efficient smoking cessation treatment.
“In cessation from whatever tobacco product a person is using, they might need help to actually manage their craving while they are seeing their habit of using the tobacco product reduced incrementally. And we are very aware that some people like gum, but some like other products and we think there are new, innovative product offerings that are relevant and will come to the fore.
“We do have a part to play because we have a platform and 25yrs experience in this field. So I think we are one of the most knowledgeable companies in the world in terms of smoking cessation so we want to expand on that and create growth parameters we can succeed at in the next 5 to 10 years.”
There are many reasons why you smoke, it can be social or for relaxation or stimulation. There are a lot of reasons and examples, but the common denominator for people who are using tobacco products is the fact they get addicted to nicotine; some get very addicted and others not so much. But it is an addiction to nicotine regardless, and Fertin see this as a bad issue with huge potential to serve this vast group of people. They are set to assume a leading position in the global smoking cessation, and possess all the expertise needed to achieve such a feat.