News from Zentiva

Steffen Saltofte, CEO of Zentiva

June 7, 2024    /    News

Steffen Saltofte, CEO of Zentiva: We are here to provide health and wellbeing to all generations

Steffen Saltofte, CEO of Zentiva, told TIME that whatever the future holds, Zentiva has been an active leader in the pharmaceutical sector for 500 years, and it will carry on for at least the next 500.

ZENTIVA -Accessible Medicines
The annual revenue generated by the Czech Republic's pharmaceutical industry accounts for 4% of the country's total GDP, making its contribution to the national purse proportionately larger than in any of its European counterparts except Poland. It is also a regular and growing magnet for foreign investment

Zentiva is a prime example of the sector’s ability to attract foreign direct investment, and the company has become something of an ambassador for both the industry and the country. “A great platform full of talented people who we can invest behind to build a new, independent European generics leader,” is how U.S. private equity investor Advent International described Zentiva in 2018, after finalizing the company’s $2 billion acquisition from another multinational, France’s Sanofi.
How right that description has proved to be. Since changing hands, Zentiva has doubled in size and currently operates in more than 30 countries through a network of 32 subsidiaries and 6 branches, By the end of 2022 it had finalized its expansion into the Netherlands and started operations in Austria.
“We are a European-based company and focus our activities there for the foreseeable future. We are here to provide health and wellbeing to all generations," says Zentiva CEO Steffen Saltofte, who was appointed to the role last year and brings with him a wealth of strategic and operational experience from a long and illustrious career at several large multinationals and fast-growing companies.
“We reacted to COVID by looking to source our raw materials more locally and moving our production facilities closer to home. Now we look forward to deepening our presence in the region, especially within Central Europe." 
Zentiva's Central European pedigree is beyond question, with the company dating its involvement in the pharmaceutical industry back to the 15th century and the Black Eagle pharmacy, which is still open for business in Prague's Old Town. These roots are, however, just one of the qualities that caught Advent International's eye (and earlier that of Sanofi) and which Saltofte intends to harness to drive the company forward.
Zentiva's core strength lies in its commitment to providing high-quality generic medications.
With its portfolio, the company contributes to sustainable public health in Europe. These "off-patent" drugs offer the same therapeutic benefits as brand-name counterparts, but at a significantly lower cost. This translates to increased access for patients who might otherwise struggle to afford their medications. By focusing on a broad portfolio of essential medicines, Zentiva helps ensure individuals receive the treatment they need, regardless of their financial situation.
While a big portion of Zentiva's portfolio is in the off-patent sector, the team's focus on research follows the Czech tradition of searching for innovative solutions. The teams at its R&D centers in Prague and Ankleshwar in India actively manage the life cycle of its products and bring value for the people who depend on the medicines every day. Zentiva drives innovation in drug product formulation and brings bioequivalent medicines to European regulators for review and approval.
The company also provides pharmacovigilance and regulatory consulting services to partners via Prague Scientific.
Since 2022, Value-Added Medicines have become the focus. These are the new generation of customized drugs that help address unmet patient needs by moving from a one-size-fits-all approach to a much more tailored and patient specific one. Two years ago, Zentiva took its first public step into this world with the launch of the drug Dasatinib, which is registered in the UK and EU and is a life-saving oncology treatment for people with chronic myeloid and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. In the same year, Zentiva also launched 152 molecules and combinations of well-established treatments, all designed to provide more patients with affordable access to high-quality medicines.
Successful R&D is only half the battle, with production, logistics, marketing, and sales equally important. "It can take up to 7 to 10 years to get a concept to market, and we have about 200 people working in R&D," says Saltofte. "But around another 2,500 staff work in our Product Supply division, and it is their job to ensure the drugs get produced and delivered." They in turn are supported by a network of 1,900 account handlers and medical representatives who are in regular contact with physicians, pharmacists, and healthcare decision-makers in each of its markets. The loyalty and dedication Zentiva inspires across disciplines has earned it Top Employer awards in Bulgaria and Romania, as well as at home in the Czech Republic.
The pandemic compelled Zentiva to shorten its supply chain, but it also prompted the company to accelerate its digitalization process.
"I think COVID forced us to use different sources of communications and to continue to accelerate the way we communicate with each other," says Saltofte. "In time, this will help us speed up some of our processes. Whatever the future holds, we've been active leaders in this sector for 500 years, and we will carry on for at least the next 500."

Link to original article by TIME

To open the interview from TIME as a file, click HERE