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Gareth Carpenter
3 Dec 2021

Grupo Azevedos – a top company in Lyophilized Drug Products

Grupo Azevedos is a specialist in pharmaceuticals, operating from Portugal and from Mozambique, and exporting to more than 90 countries in 5 continents. It is not only a front-runner in lyophilized product development and production but also an iconic company with over 250 years of history and experience.

In this interview with Helder Guerreiro, Industrial General Manager at Grupo Azevedos, we dive deeper into how the company’s expertise in freeze drying technology, state-of-the-art quality, process diversity and flexibility and speed to market is driving its success.

Why should Grupo Azevedos be a preferred choice for the manufacturing of lyophilized drug products?

Our organization has 50 years of experience in the manufacturing of lyophilized drug products.

We offer expertise and technical solutions to overcome challenging problems. Our flexibility in operations allow us to respond in short time to the market demand and in the support of our clients' business.

Quite important is our concern to be updated with the GMP standards and the most demanding quality standards which enables the company to sell medicines worldwide.

Our commitment to be in the frontline of this sector has driven a continuous investment in installations, equipment and training. The recent revamping of this area will allow us to double our capacity to 30 million/year (reference: vials type 10R).

A development team supports industrial operations and product development giving an added value to the solutions that our Group may offer to client.

What are some of the prime challenges faced by your clients with respect to the manufacturing, development, and delivery of drugs, and how does Grupo Azevedos help the organizations in addressing those challenges?

Our partners’ expectations are mainly centered on product availability, service flexibility and good price/quality ratio. Speed to market is for them a key factor for successful business. It is in Azevedos’ DNA to be flexible and reliable, so our values and sense of mission are aligned with customer expectations. To make it even better, Sofarimex (industrial plant of Grupo Azevedos) has a solid investment plan for the next 5 years, to increase capacity and flexibility. The investments are covering all technologies/formulations but with focus on lyophilized products as the main driver of the business development.

How does Grupo Azevedos leverage its comprehensive portfolio of products and unparalleled laboratory capabilities to aid pharma businesses in effectively developing their products in a highly efficient manner?

Firstly, our technical experience associated with the number of component items, suppliers, formulations and different technologies allow us to understand more easily our partners products/processes and to industrialize them in a more effective and smooth mode.

A pilot GMP unit with independent operational capacity mirrors the technologies that are available in Sofarimex.

The presence of development and industrial activities in Sofarimex makes the scale-up phase easier to plan and perform. This is quite practical and advantageous for the commercial launch phase because the validation activities were previously performed in the equipment that will be used for the industrial operation. Also, the presence of both teams facilitates the communication, the problem solving and helps to transmit the know-how as well as monitor the critical phases of the production and testing processes.

With an emphasis on the feature set offered via Grupo Azevedos, can you elaborate on what drives Grupo Azevedos’ value in the CMO and drug development landscape?

Through its companies it offers integrated marketing, production, R&D, logistics and international services. Having a worldwide commercial activity, we operate with a global logistic perspective.

Grupo Azevedos is driven by a permanent focus in our mission to serve Public Health; to ensure that our medicines reach our clients and patients in the required quantities and in a timely manner; to upgrade and adapt our technologies to the market needs and expand our services in a worldwide perspective from our base in Europe.

How does Grupo Azevedos leverage its partnerships and collaborations in the pharma arena and beyond to ensure that all its clients’ needs are satisfied?

For current business, communication and regular follow-up with clients is essential to anticipate short-term needs and sales evolution.

This also allows the Group, in a medium/long-term perspective and in a proactive manner, to project the needed investments but also to effectively adapt the production needs concerning equipment capacity/availability and human resources.

A dedicated Tech Transfer team manages the introduction of new products in the frame of project management allowing full preparation for the industrial phase.

How does the next 12-24 months look for the company? Could you tell us about some of the plans for key advancements and geographical expansions, or technological milestones set aside by Grupo Azevedos?

We expect some stabilization of sales, mainly due to the COVID-19 crisis. The expansion and increase of sales in the international market is one strategic driver especially in markets like the US, Africa, Middle East, Asia, and South America.

Investments in Pharma 4.0 and Big Data Analytics projects are part of our development strategy for the plant.

Sofarimex (Grupo Azevedos industrial unit) tripled the installed capacity of its lyophilization area still in 2021 with state-of-the-art technology, making us part of the “worldwide premium club” in lyophilized products.

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Gareth Carpenter