Unither is a unique player in the pharmaceutical subcontracting industry. The group is known as a CDMO that specializes in certain single-doses and packaging technologies (Blow-Fill-Seal, liquid stick-pack) and, more recently, preservative-free multidoses. With more than 3,5 billion units produced each year, it is the world leader in BFS sterile single-dose products. The company also offers other services such as the filling of bottles, sprays, tubes or the manufacturing of suppositories or ova… The group’s hyperspecialization, which it claims and consistently develops through investments in and acquisitions of pharmaceutical sites – most recently in China in 2020 – is being presented on a global scale through seven factories, an innovation and development center and four sales offices in France, the United States, Brazil and China.
Unither has a global footprint, in all the major pharmaceutical markets (Europe, America, and Asia). In conjunction with its hyper-specialization, the group has been able to develop an effective and highly creative business engineering approach in which business developers are essential to ensuring customer satisfaction.
The customer: Unither’s top priority and primary motivation
Since its first acquisition of a Sanofi plant in Amiens in 1993, the Unither group has grown and developed through acquisitions of pharmaceutical sites in France and abroad. Although these sites were once part of large pharmaceutical companies, they didn’t have a customer-focused culture when they joined the Unither group. However, at the pharmaceutical subcontractor, the customer is the focus of all attention. Because there are so many players involved, and so many types of product requirements, it is necessary for sites to undergo a genuine cultural transformation that may take several years. The process for French sites may take two to three years, and it may take even longer for other regions with very different cultures.
Putting the customer at the center of everything that we do means we provide them with a single point of contact throughout the support process, both historically and quality-wise. As a key technical, commercial, and networking contact person, the Business Developer plays a significant role in this process. A Business Developer’s role at Unither group is to identify products throughout their life cycle and make recommendations to customers to help them realize their full potential, particularly on international markets.
Despite Unither’s commitment to the customer, the patient remains an important second-tier customer and appears on the site as the product’s end user.
Taking the patient into account is a key concern for Unither. By doing so, we will strongly encourage product adaptations to our customers. As an example, Unither required single-dose Chlorexidine products to have their PEs colored green so that misuse can be avoided. As a result, we have greatly improved the safety of the product for hospital caregivers. In addition to our technical expertise, our patient-centered approach enables us to provide our customers with advice on how to adapt their products for ease of use.
An additional original position of the company in the pharmaceutical outsourcing world is its refusal to market medicines or products that might compete with those of its clients. It can be defended by subcontractors across many markets. Unither guarantees the confidentiality of its customers’ projects and their data. The group makes it a point of honor to never compete with them.
From “classic” collaborations to “cross-licensing“
As a CDMO, Unither offers its customers various types of collaboration. Three of these are classic pharmaceutical outsourcing models:
– the customer has a product and requires the subcontractor to manufacture it
– the customer has an idea for a product that matches one of Unither’s technologies, and Unither will help the customer to develop and manufacture it;
– Unither develops the entire product, from formulation to marketing authorization application, and then licenses it to a customer.
Unither has developed a fourth, more unique form of customer collaboration. This is called “cross-licensing” and is the responsibility of the Business Developer. It may be necessary to identify an unmet need for a product in a market that is either not yet available or is in the process of being developed. His main concern is finding businesses that will launch this product in other countries, or to put it simply, he will recommend that his client markets this product globally. With its international presence, Unither can support its customers in their industrial strategies abroad and present itself as a reliable partner.
A Business Developer can also connect a customer in one geographical area with a marketing authorization application with a customer in another geographical area who is looking for the same type of product. By seeking out more creative solutions for its customers, Unither deploys a collaborative approach that goes beyond purely commercial activities, identifying potential partners and facilitating exchanges. This philosophy is unique to the group. It allows us to provide our customers with all the information they need to meet their immediate needs and build their future strategy together. This requires all of the group’s skills, from regulatory expertise, to understanding the reality of a market, to knowledge of the players. This enables the Business Developer to accompany his client in his territorial expansion.
Niche markets in strong development
Thanks to its hyper-specialization, Unither has developed expertise and know-how in certain types of treatment that are experiencing strong growth worldwide. Using BFS technology, we manufacture and package sterile single-doses for diverse pharmaceutical fields, such as saline, ophthalmological products, and respiratory disease treatments. Since 2020, the company has also developed preservative-free multi-dose systems for ophthalmic treatments at its Coutances facility in France. This technology should also be deployed at other locations around the world.
As for liquid stick packs, it was also behind the first preservative-free cough syrup to gain marketing authorization.
An exchange between our North American Sales Director and Rachelle Lemoine, Editor-in-Chief of the Pharmaceutical Post magazine has led to the creation of an article by Rachelle Lemoine.