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Brazil beckons to Belgium
July 2012
by Lori Lesko  |  Email the author


BRUSSELS, Belgium—Global pharmaceutical Euronext Brussels (UCB) and Sao Paolo, Brazil-based Meizler Biopharma have agreed to a strategic partnership that provides UCB with 51 percent of the privately held company, along with undisclosed performance-related milestone payments and an option to purchase the remaining 49 percent at some point in the future. No further financial details are being disclosed.
UCB's role in this business endeavor is to bring parts of its mature and new medicines into Meizler Biopharma's portfolio for commercialization in Brazil, and fully consolidate Meizler Biopharma's financial results under international accounting rules.
Meizler Biopharma specializes in the acquisition of new drugs and existing partnerships with the world's leading pharmaceutical biotech and device manufacturers. Aimed at public and private institutions, hospitals and clinics, Meizler Biopharma has full-service warehousing and distribution, dynamically structured to meet quickly, increasing government demand for high technology products at more affordable prices.  
The agreement comes on the heels of a white paper released June 21 by Paris, France-based Cegedim Relationship Management, outlining the critical relationship between evolving Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) healthcare climates and pharmaceutical markets, and the best strategies to boost growth in each of the emerging markets.  
That's because the "stakes are rising for improving commercial performance in emerging markets," says the Cegedim report. "Five years ago, emerging markets were responsible for just 5 percent of pharmaceutical companies' profits; today, they make up 20 to 30 percent of profits. Shifts in the BRIC landscape will prompt companies to optimize their commercial strategies with a better understanding of local markets and stakeholder networks."  
Reporting on each of the BRIC pharmaceutical markets, Cegedim suggests, "Success in Brazil requires the cultivation of deeper relationships with large drug distributors and physicians, while also capturing the growing out-of-pocket and reimbursement-based segments."  
"Our strategic partnership in Brazil with Meizler Biopharma is part of UCB's growth strategy. UCB's decision to partner with Meizler Biopharma relies especially on their local infrastructure and Avi Meizler and his team's experience and excellent reputation," says Roch Doliveux, CEO of UCB. "Brazil is one of UCB's key markets in which the company did not have a direct presence, yet it is currently the seventh-largest biopharmaceutical market worldwide and is growing fast. With Meizler Biopharma, we look forward to building our presence in this region, creating a platform to launch UCB's new products and making our medicines available to more patients."  
Avi Meizler, the founder, CEO and principle shareholder of Meizler Biopharma, said in a news release, "We are very happy with our new partner UCB, which strengthens Meizler Biopharma and brings the advantages of a global biopharmaceutical leader including a strong R&D pipeline of potential new products. Knowledge and expertise-sharing between our teams will create a platform for growth to the benefits of patients living with severe diseases."  
Laurent Schots, senior project manager of UCB's Media Relations Global Communications division, says the time to strike is when the iron is hot.
"The timing was actually right for both companies," Schots tells ddn. "UCB wanted to find a partner in Brazil, the 'missing link' in UCB's emerging markets strategy. UCB was also looking for a partner aligned with our key therapeutic areas, central nervous system (CNS) disorders and immunological diseases. And finally, the company was impressed by the Meizler's strong management team, including Avi Meizler, who will remain as chairman of the board."  
Ironically, while UCB searched for a suitable partner, Meizler was looking for a strategic investor able to provide its company with assets and rights, Schots says.   "This is a strategic deal for UCB, as we wanted to ramp up our presence in this BRIC market," Schots says. "To give you an idea of the importance of this market for us: In 2011, Brazil was ranked 7th (up from 11th in 2005) in the pharmaceutical market, representing more than EUR 21 billion revenue and above-average growth. The Brazilian pharmaceutical market is one of the most attractive markets in the world, having experienced the fastest growth rates within Latin America. It has grown by a CAGR of 13 percent from 2006 to 2010, and is expected to further grow by CAGR of 10 percent until 2015. By 2015, Brazil is expected to rank fifth in the worldwide pharmaceutical market."  
As a mid-sized company, UCB "is big enough to have the means of its ambitions, but the nimbleness to move rapidly," Schots says. "The fact that UCB is totally focused in CNS and immunology gives us the capacity to compete against bigger players. On top of this, our 'open innovation' model allows us to find the best talents (from various organizations) to complement our own where needed—and truly collaborate together. In this case (Brazil), UCB decided to integrate Meizler and join forces to enhance our presence in this key market. We strongly believe that Meizler was exactly what we needed to do so."
In the short term, the new company will be integrated into UCB, meaning progressively, tools and ways of working will be harmonized and integrated, Schots adds.  
"Under IFRS, the new company will be fully consolidated in UCB's group financial reporting," he says. "Depending on the current contracts UCB has with third parties, some well-established products will be integrated into Meizler's portfolio."
Code: E071206



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