UNVEILING A PHARMACEUTICAL GIANT: EMS, Brazil's biggest pharmaceutical company and the industry's second largest firm in Latin America and the Caribbean, has a remarkable growth story and a promising future.

Author:Ramirez, David
Position:TOP 500
 
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Latin Trade reports on EMS following the firm's entry into our most recent LT500, a ranking of the 500 largest companies in the region in terms of US dollar revenues. The Brazilian multinational's sales reached nearly US$900 million in 2016,52% more than the previous year, allowing EMS to scale up 85 positions to 427 in the ranking.

EMS's performance includes remarkable achievements: strong historical sales growth (expected to rise 20 to 21% in local currency in 2017, after soaring 27% in 2016); the market leader in Brazil for over a decade, offering the country's largest product portfolio (2,600 medicines); pioneer in exporting to Europe and currently selling to 40 nations worldwide; and regional champion in pharmaceutical innovation, with 90 registered patents and 400 employees--out of 5,000 total--fully dedicated to research and development (R&D).

The company--founded in 1964--made a big leap in the early 2000s, following the establishment of its manufacturing plant at Hortolandia, Sao Paulo state, in 1999 and a state-of-the-art R&D center in the same city in 2002. These investments contributed to impressive two-digit sales growth for years (including a 38% increase in 2010) and expanded the firm's production capacity by 75% in 2013.

THE STRATEGY BEHIND THE STORY

The outstanding record of EMS reflects two key elements, according to the company's Strategic Development Director, Ricardo Marques: strategic planning and effective decision-making.

"We plan the launching of our products strategically, for the short, mid and long term.

You cannot create a medicine today and sell it in a drugstore tomorrow. Planning is required and we do a strict follow-up on it," the executive told Latin Trade. He added that effective decision-making requires flexibility "to anticipate competitors and take advantage of opportunities when they appear".

This strategy has proven successful. Even in the midst of the Brazilian recession, EMS has seized dynamism in the country's pharmaceutical market to expand in niches--such as medical prescriptions, hospitals, and over-the-counter drugs--where its presence had been limited. Previously the firm produced principally generic drugs.

This flexible and opportunistic approach to incursion in new segments and launching new products explains the company's strong historical sales growth, but particularly in 2016-17 (24% annual average increase in revenues in reais). Nowadays, 14 of every 100 medicines sold in the country...

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