Ali Raif İlaç R&D Director Serdar Ünlü, Ph.D., answering the questions from Fortune magazine’s special issue on R&D, emphasized that the only way to shape the future of the Turkish pharmaceutical industry and have a presence in global markets is to engage in innovative R&D efforts and undertake the correct management of industrial rights that develop from these efforts. He added that Ali Raif aims to expand its patent and brand portfolio by further investing in R&D equipment and expert staff.
Could you tell us what has been happening on the company’s digital transformation front since the pandemic began, particularly in terms of R&D investments and activities? How does Ali Raif manage its business processes, approaches, and methodologies in strategic, managerial and operational terms? What is your value-adding motto?
The COVID-19 virus, which began in China and has made a global impact, continues to change our lives in many different ways. COVID-19 has deeply affected our personal habits, ways of doing business, our daily lives, and, in particular, our working hours. Social approaches and working conditions are changing as digitalization gains momentum. The ability to be self-sufficient in supplying essential medical devices and medicine has gained critical importance for countries. In addition, the use of technology in the health sector has increased.
R&D investments and activities also started to shift. The medium- and long-term measures we have taken include investments in technology and infrastructure, the effective management of supplier risks and assistance to help suppliers improve, and the creation of a micro supplier chain.
Our technological infrastructure investments have taken into account many parameters such as infrastructure and efficiency improvements, the high level maintenance of data security, access to necessary technologies and infrastructure in the event of sudden market changes, and issuing analytical forecasts.
We made plans for the search and selection of alternative suppliers, the transparent management and monitoring of the supply network, stock optimization, and supply planning.
The emergence of rotating shifts and remote access via technological infrastructure formed the basis of our business models.
Our motto in these difficult times is, “We do research, develop and produce for people at all times and under all conditions.”
Which high-tech methods does Ali Raif use for the creation of innovative and customer-oriented products? Which innovations are on your R&D agenda for 2021 and beyond? What percentage of your revenue do you allocate to R&D?
The health and safety of our patients and employees to whom we provide medicine has been our top priority during the pandemic. The uninterrupted remote access and private communication with our employees and patients were also critical issues. During COVID-19, our primary concerns have been to maintain a customer-oriented approach and sustain our pharmaceutical production while strengthening our technological infrastructure.
Our new pharmaceutical production facility, which we started to build at the end of 2020, will have modern and state-of-the-art technological equipment and will contribute significantly to the capacity of Turkey’s pharmaceutical industry. Our R&D Center has already commenced work on innovative and high value-added products. In this process, we give a high level of importance to the technological infrastructure and human resource development of our R&D Center. Ali Raif İlaç allocates 3 percent of its revenue to R&D. The percentage of R&D expenditures to total revenue will be significantly increased in order to bring innovation to pharmaceutical production, produce innovative products, and create a competent R&D team. In addition, when our new factory commences operation, our existing R&D Center will expand physically, creating more jobs.
As a company with a wide product portfolio and production capacity, what R&D investments did Ali Raif make in the production of generic drugs? How do you set your quality standards in R&D, production, and management processes to guarantee international success?
With the growing pharmaceutical industry and the global pandemic, uninterrupted pharmaceutical production and access to drugs have gained even more importance. Our company, which has been serving Turkish medicine since the 1960s, has commenced construction of a new factory in response to the increased demand of a growing sector, and to produce innovative products. A significant investment is planned for additional production equipment that will match the modern and technological infrastructure of the new factory. Our new factory, which will be equipped with the most modern technological infrastructure, will facilitate the further expansion of our product portfolio and ensure continuous production. To guarantee international success, our R&D and production activities are carried out according to the regulations determined by the Turkish Ministry of Health and other international authorities. We will continue to offer products that are produced within the framework of national and international regulations and add value to patients’ lives.
How does Ali Raif İlaç differentiate in its brand strategies? How do you plan on becoming a pioneer in the Turkish pharmaceutical industry? Can you tell us about your targets in the local and global markets?
As a company that has been operating in the pharmaceutical industry for 58 years, Ali Raif İlaç develops products for specific treatment areas with a mission to add value to life. It continues to produce innovative products with unique, effective and easy-to-use pharmaceutical forms to increase patient compliance, which benefits both patients and physicians. We also aim to increase the success of treatments by offering new alternatives to the physician in the treatment areas we are involved in.
The only way to shape the future of the Turkish pharmaceutical industry and have a presence in global markets is to engage in innovative R&D efforts and undertake the correct management of industrial rights that develop from these efforts.
With this awareness, Ali Raif İlaç’s primary objective is to invest more in R&D and expand its patent and brand portfolio.
Serdar Ünlü, Ph.D.
R&D Director, Ali Raif İlaç
This article was published in the April 2021 issue of Fortune magazine.ar-ge