that our sales in India will grow rapidly in 10 years”
Dekkers, president and CEO, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Marijn E Dekkers,
president and CEO, Thermo Fisher Scientific (TFS) was recently in India
for the inauguration of the clinical trials facility in Ahmedabad. In
an exclusive interview with BioSpectrum, Dekkers talked about the
TFS’s new line of products, its strategies to tackle the
financial crunch and the promise that India holds for the
With the expanded
product portfolio, is TFS going to leverage its strengths in the key
At present we are focusing on stem cells and all the tools related to
stem cell research. There is lot being done in vaccines and
vaccine production, it is a growing area, especially in India where
most of the pharma companies are moving into biotechnology. The CROs
are growing in India that is why we are opening a new factory in
Ahmedabad and that is clearly to support clinical trials as we do a lot
of sample management and logistics for medicines that are used in
clinical trials. In the last year we have done two
acquisitions Qualigens and Chemito; Qualigens in order to get bigger in
laboratory chemicals and Chemito to have manufacturing capabilities and
product development capability in scientific instruments in India.
It is a difficult
period for all industry segments with the financial crunch. Globally,
how will the company align itself to the situation?
We are in a strange situation because there are two things happening at
the same time. The economic slow down and a credit crunch.
Normally when there is a recession, it does not mean that
there is a credit crunch. I feel it’s an over reaction which
is temporary. From our company point of view when compared to other
industries, usually in such a situation we do not tend to be vulnerable
because life sciences and healthcare are not affected as
people will not stop buying medicines. When you look at the breakdown
of our sales, half of our sales are consumables and that is recurring
revenue, another 15 percent of our sales is in services and 35 percent
of our sales is from incrementing capital goods that comes out of our
capital budget and those tend to be the area where people say
let’s be careful and not invest. Fortunately that is only
one-third of our business.
Pharma companies are under a lot of pressure as far as costs
and drying up pipelines are concerned, so suppliers of products will
have to be efficient as to how they sell their products to this
industry. The pharma industry is a fragmented industry both
from the suppliers and buyers point of view. There are a lot of
suppliers selling a lot of different things to different pharma
companies, there will be a lot of consolidation in this segment not
just pharma but also in biotech and academic institutions people need
to be smarter.
What is the strategy
behind TFS’s acquisitions?
We believe that larger companies with a broader portfolio will be able
to serve customers better. Thermo Fisher has been acquiring small and
medium companies. While we are acquiring companies we give importance
to technology and the geographical location. Even though we do have the
capabilities and technology in the US and Europe, we didn’t
have the technology in India, so the buyout was more of geographic
decision as we are eager to grow our capabilities in India.
What are the new
products in the pipeline?
We have a lot of areas where we are focusing our R&D,
scientific instruments and particularly mass spectrometry is one such
areas because the analytical side has the most opportunity for
innovation. I am also excited about RNAi technology that is a
new way of identifying bad genes and we have a strong library of RNAi
molecules that researchers are using to study genes. Those are the two
key areas that have a lot of potential. We are also giving special
emphasis to user-friendliness as customers prefer user-friendly
your opinion is the challenge for the next 5-10 years?
The customers need to be more efficient. In pharma for
example a lot of money is being spent on R&D and the pipeline
is not what it should be, the pressure is always there. So here it is
not always about technology its also about productivity. We should be
in a position to provide the customers with not only
technology but also the benefits of efficiency and
productivity. Second, our customer base is getting more
global. Around 10-15 years ago India and China were very small
countries in terms of an opportunity to sell, Now it is growing bigger
and as a supplier you need the capability, energy and money to invest
in nations like these and sometimes it gets hard to sell in such
countries, hard to invest all resources and service spare parts and
that’s a challenge and we are focused on being global.
Do you think that the
days of blockbuster drugs are over?
The days are not fairly over but there maybe biotech blockbusters.
Every industry goes through a rapid development for new molecules for a
period of 30 years or so and I think indepth knowledge of the life
sciences industry, which is not present as of now can create a whole
cycle of innovation for the next 20-30 years. Life Sciences is going
through the same cycle and we could see small molecules as the step
towards personalized medicines.
N Suresh and Nayantara Som