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Five minutes with Dr Gwenaël Servant, Managing Director, Servier CDMO – DCAT Week ‘18

PH: Please introduce Servier.

Gwenaël Servant

Servant: Servier is the second largest pharma company in France. Since its creation in 1954 it has always been privately owned. Now the group is governed by a foundation to guarantee its independence. With the long cycles of the pharmaceutical business, it is easier to follow a strategy that way. Last year, the group had its best ever result, with €3 billion in innovator drugs and €1.2 billion in generics. One subsidiary, Biogaran, has about 30% of the French generic market and now is expanding outside France; Egis in Hungary specialises in ‘generics plus’ for Eastern Europe and Russia.

PH: But you are a CDMO as well. Is that a recent development?

Servant: We have always made both drug substance and drug product and we have chosen to stay vertically integrated. From time to time, we have had requests from companies to manufacture for them. Two years ago, we decided to create a business unit dedicated to CDMO work. More and more countries are asking for local production and, if we do not have manufacturing in a country, volumes will leave our network. Rather than divest facilities we chose to bring back business by offering services to third parties and set up Servier CDMO in October 2015. Now we offer a full ‘one-stop shop’ of services. Many pharma companies still tend to see chemistry and dosage forms as separate, though, so most of our work has been one or the other. So far, we have had a little more success in drug product.

PH: Where do you make APIs?

Servant: We have three main API facilities in Toledo, Spain, Budapest, Hungary, and the main one in Bolbec, Normandy, which has everything from R&D to manufacturing on a single site. We also have 13 drug product facilities worldwide. In the US, we are focusing mainly on selling API services. Until quite recently, we were selling in 148 countries but not in the US, except through licences. We have just set up Servier BioInnovation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We will also have one representative in Canada to sell our CDMO services in the US.

PH: Quite a few Big Pharma companies are also doing CMO services on the side. What is different about Servier?

Servant: Because we are independent and privately owned, we can look at long-term partnerships. We try to bring a different kind of relationship to the market, based on our 60 years of knowledge and a network of 16 facilities, 13 of which we built. Our growth has always been organic. Another USP is having every part of API development at the one site in Normandy, which gives us a lot of agility in scaling up a process, reducing time to market. We have a relatively low turnover of people: I have been there 20 years and had five different jobs. People who start a project with us can know that the project and operational managers will be the same throughout.

PH: What investments are you making at the moment?

Servant: Servier invests €40 million/year in its network, which CDMO customers will also benefit from. This year, we are also building a €50 million facility for monoclonal antibodies in France, as part of our increasing focus on oncology, and €40 million to double our facility in China, which is actually our largest market. We are also investing in Africa – we have two facilities in Morocco and Egypt and Biogaran just bought a company in Nigeria, which should be one of the big growth markets.

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