Press Room

Press Release / Nov 05, 2001

Hovione's Antibiotic Doxycycline Joins Fight Against Anthrax

Hovione FarmaCiencia SA is using one of its oldest products to fight the world's newest terrorist threat.

Lisbon, Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Hovione FarmaCiencia SA is using one of its oldest products to fight the world's newest terrorist threat.
The Portuguese company makes doxycycline, an antibiotic that U.S. authorities are increasingly choosing to treat anthrax over Bayer AG's more expensive Cipro, which they used after the initial cases of exposure to the potentially deadly bacteria.
After almost 20 years of selling doxycycline to treat respiratory disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, even an outbreak of plague in India, Hovione says it's able to quickly boost production to meet the increased demand. In fact, it's done so before.
``Ten years ago, before Desert Storm, it was exactly the same situation,'' Chief Executive Officer Guy Villax said in an interview. ``Every soldier that went to Desert Storm had their doses of doxycycline in anticipation for bio-warfare,'' and soldiers who went to Somalia did the same.
``Whenever there's this type of emergency, we have to find solutions,'' he said.

Web Site

Hovione says it accounts for about 75 percent of the U.S. market for doxycycline, a generic drug. The family-controlled chemicals company exports the active ingredient for doxycycline to companies in the U.S. and about 30 other countries that put the ingredient into pills.
The company started preparing to boost production when it received a surge in hits on its Web page about doxycycline, soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as people anticipated the possibility of bio-terrorism.
``We got our act together in terms of reorganizing production, redefining priorities, getting in touch with our raw-materials suppliers to put the supply chains in place,'' Villax said.
Hovione makes doxycycline at its plant in Macau, the former Portuguese colony governed by China since 1999. Hovione's near Lisbon boasts two Chinese statues of lions at the gates. The Portugal plant may pitch in to meet the increased demand, Villax said.

Demand Peaks

The U.S. government is ordering enough doxycycline to treat 20 million people for 60 days, Villax said. ``We know we are facing a peak in demand because of all this stockpiling,'' he added. ``We can produce large quantities very fast, but I cannot imagine that this rush is going to last beyond (the first quarter) of next year, and by that time there will be ample stocks and the concern with shortage will disappear.''
Besides costing about one fourth as much as Cipro, doxycycline is gaining acceptance as a safer drug for dealing with anthrax, with fewer side effects. After a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control last month recommended the use of doxycycline, officials in Washington who had provided Cipro to thousands of postal and government workers switched to the generic drug.
Doxycycline accounts for less than 10 percent of Hovione's annual sales of about $70 million, Villax said. ``It's an old product, and having regard for its life cycle, it's still a good money earner,'' he added. Antibiotics gradually give way to replacements as bacteria become more resistant and companies promote new products.
``I really think the future of the company is the fact that half our sales are (from) products launched less than five years ago,'' he said. Revenue has almost tripled from $25 million in 1995. The company doesn't disclose profits, though Villax said it's always had an operating profit since it started large-scale production in the 1970s.

Hungarian Roots

``Hovione is a respected player, with a high-quality image,'' said Enrico Polastro, senior analyst for European pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals at Arthur D. Little Inc. 
Villax's father, Ivan Villax, immigrated to Portugal in 1951 and started the company with two other natives of Hungary in 1959. Letters from the founders' names -- Horty, Villax and Onody --were combined for the company name. Ivan Villax's two partners later sold their shares, and he's still the company chairman.
``In the whole of the 60s, we were just a lab in the basement,'' Guy Villax said. ``Occasionally the basement exploded, and the kids were woken up, and that was our momma-and-poppa shop.''
Industrial-scale production began in the 1970s, selling Japanese companies ingredients for use in anti-inflammatory creams and anti-asthma pumps. In the 1980s, as many antibiotics' patents expired, Hovione joined the trend of companies making generic drugs.

Right Chemistry

The most recent round of growth comes from ``outsourcing'' work, producing pharmaceutical ingredients on behalf of specific drug and biotechnology companies.
``Big Pharma went through a major restructuring, spinning off the chemistry, consolidating,'' Villax said. ``At the same time, you had the emergence of all the biotech sector at Nasdaq, with tremendous amounts of capital to invest in drug discovery. And someone has to do the chemistry.''
Hovione aims to get half its revenue from generic drugs and half from outsourcing work, Villax said.
The company's shareholders include Hovione employees, plus some of the chairman's business associates from other ventures, though it has no plans to sell shares in the market, the CEO said.
Larger companies have approached Hovione about a possible purchase, he added, though he's skeptical about the benefits for customers, ``and I think that's what matters at the end of the day.''

--Jim Silver in the Lisbon bureau (351-21) 340-4545, or jsilver@bloomberg.net

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Lisbon, May 21, 2024 – Hovione has placed fourth among the best companies to work in Portugal and was again the best in the Health Sector according to Randstad´s Employer Brand Research. The research, which was published yesterday, identified the 20 best employers in Portugal. This is the ninth annual edition of Ranstad´s study, which is based on a representative sample of the Portuguese workforce. The respondents evaluate companies according to a range of different criteria, including salary and benefits, job security, work atmosphere, and career progression opportunities. Employer branding can have a significant impact on an organization's ability to attract and retain top talent and so is becoming an increasingly important part of a company a strategy to address the talent shortage challenge.  Ilda Ventura, VP of Human Resources at Hovione explains that “Our global HR strategy is built on the need to attract, retain and empower our talented team members. Therefore, our Employer Branding needs to reflect the reality of who we are, so that we don’t just attract new talent but allow current team members to flourish. It also needs to capture the positive impact that Hovione has on the world, and how our innovative work relies on the knowledge and problem solving of our team members. We continue to work on refining and improving the work we do on our EB. This too is an important reflection of our values, and our belief in continuous improvement.” This is the third successive year that has been ranked as the most attractive company to work for in the Health Sector and placed in the top five overall  This recognition comes after Hovione was recognized as a Top Employer in all four of its global sites in January 2024, becoming the first company in Macau to do so.    About Hovione Hovione is an international company with over 60 years of experience in pharmaceutical development and manufacturing operations. As a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) it has a fully integrated offering of services for drug substances, drug product intermediates and drug products. The company has four FDA inspected sites in the USA, Portugal, Ireland and China and development laboratories in Lisbon, Portugal and New Jersey, USA. Hovione provides pharmaceutical customers services for the development and compliant manufacture of innovative drugs, including highly potent compounds, and customized product solutions across the entire drug life cycle. In the inhalation area, Hovione offers a complete range of services, from API, formulation development and manufacturing, capsule filling and devices.     Hovione's culture is based on innovation, quality and dependability. Hovione is a member of Rx-360, EFCG and participates actively in industry quality improvement initiatives to lead new global industry standards.  

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The new company, which will be located in Portugal, will focus on the development of drug delivery solutions for emerging drug modalities. Cell and gene therapies represent a paradigm shift in modern medicine, offering unprecedented opportunities to address previously untreatable diseases. ViSync solutions will help address some of the manufacturing challenges caused by the complex nature of new modalities, with special focus on stabilization, cell or tissue targeting and drug payload delivery.  Lisbon, 9th May 2024 – The specialist integrated CDMO and leader in pharmaceutical spray drying and particle engineering, and iBET (Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnológica), a private not-for-profit research intensive SME in the area of Biotechnology and Life Sciences, today announced the creation of ViSync Technologies, a new joint venture located in Oeiras, close to Lisbon. The newly formed company will focus on developing innovative technologies and scalable solutions to help pharmaceutical companies address formulation and manufacturing challenges in transformative cell and gene therapies. Hovione has a strong track record in industrializing new technologies and supporting Pharma Companies with their clinical and commercial volume manufacturing needs, while iBET has a strong biological background and a global reputation for its scientific knowledge of the new therapeutic modalities space, particularly cell and gene therapy.  New modalities, such as gene and cell therapies, RNA drugs and other complex biologics, are a rapidly growing segment of the pharmaceutical industry. They promise to bring breakthroughs to the treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions, including cancer, genetic disorders, rare diseases and neurological conditions.  While this rapid growth has been driven by remarkable efficacy in addressing unmet clinical needs, the complex nature of the new modalities brings challenges, including limited drug administration options, immunogenic responses and off-target effects, issues with high dose delivery and high costs. The poor stability of these drugs is also an issue, resulting in the need for cold supply chains. ViSync will aim to develop novel technology platforms to address the unmet needs of pharmaceutical customers developing these transformative new products. “The creation of ViSync in collaboration with iBET marks an exciting new chapter in Hovione´s commitment to innovation”, said Dr Jean-Luc Herbeaux, Hovione´s CEO. “New therapeutic modalities have the potential to bring radical improvements to current standards of care and we are thrilled to partner with iBET, a world-renowned expert organization in this area, to develop technology platforms that help customers bring transformative therapies to patients worldwide. The first step will be to assemble a team who possesses the knowledge, expertise, and ingenuity needed to navigate the complexities ahead." “The establishment of ViSync in partnership with Hovione represents a pivotal moment in iBET’s dedication to pioneering research in advanced therapies,” stated Dr. Paula Alves, iBET’s CEO. “The immense promise of these new modalities is at our reach and we are delighted to join forces with Hovione, a globally recognized leader in technological industrialization and drug delivery. In this common endeavor, we will gather the scientific and technical competences and skills to support our clients and partners in delivering groundbreaking therapies to patients globally.” ViSync will develop its own lab facility in Lisbon and expects to be able to start its research and development work by the end of 2024.   About Hovione Hovione is an international company with over 60 years of experience in pharmaceutical development and manufacturing operations. As a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) it has a fully integrated offering of services for drug substances, drug product intermediates and drug products. The company has four FDA inspected sites in the USA, Portugal, Ireland and China and development laboratories in Lisbon, Portugal and New Jersey, USA. Hovione provides pharmaceutical customers services for the development and compliant manufacture of innovative drugs, including highly potent compounds, and customized product solutions across the entire drug life cycle. In the inhalation area, Hovione offers a complete range of services, from API, formulation development and manufacturing, capsule filling and devices.     Hovione's culture is based on innovation, quality and dependability. Hovione is a member of Rx-360, EFCG and participates actively in industry quality improvement initiatives to lead new global industry standards.   About iBET iBET is a private non-profit institution devoted to biotechnology research, with 35 years of experience creating and transferring knowledge to the global biopharma and biotech sectors. iBET’s core expertise lies on the development of bioprocessses and analytical tools for Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products (ATMPs), including cell and gene therapies, vaccines, antibodies and other innovative therapeutic products. Leveraged by the emerging areas of Data Science and Translational Immunology, we offer bespoke R&D services from early-stage R&D to GMP manufacturing.  iBET’s infrastructure comprises cutting-edge laboratories, a GMP certified Analytical Services Unit, and a Late-Stage R&D and Bioproduction Unit, covering upstream and downstream process development, bioanalytical tools for critical quality attribute monitoring, to scale-up and tech transfer. iBET also hosts satellite laboratories of major pharmaceutical companies and serves as an incubation platform for start-up/spin-off companies. iBET is driven by its innovative and agile culture of continuous improvement and a strong sense of ambition, ownership and commitment in developing and delivering the best solutions to our stakeholders.  

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