The Business Year

Guillermo Menéndez

ECUADOR - Health & Education

Public Private Panacea

General Manager, Grunenthal Ecuatoriana


Guillermo Menéndez was born in 1973. He studied Operation and Production Management at University of Texas and holds an Executive Marketing Program from INSEAD. He joined the company as Commercial Manager in 2004 and become General Manager of Grünenthal CAM in 2009 until he assumed the position of General Manager of Grünenthal Ecuadorian in January 2014. Previously, from 1999 to 2004, he worked for Bayer Group as Product Manager and New Business Development and Marketing Project Manager.

TBY talks to Guillermo Menéndez, General Manager of Grunenthal Ecuatoriana, on growth plans for Latin America, the flexibility created by having your own manufacturing plant, and the role pharmaceutical companies should play in supporting public health.

What is the global significance of Ecuador to Grunenthal?

Ecuador holds a special position for Grunenthal. Not only from a production perspective, since one of the five plants that Grunenthal has in is the world is located here, but also due to the fact that Grunenthal Ecuador was the first subsidiary opened in Latin America. Last year we celebrated 40 years of operations in the country. This was of great significance for the group. Currently we are involved in an ambitious project to grow within the Latin American region. Ecuador, being one of the largest subsidiaries of the group, occupies an important role within that project. We provide pharmaceuticals from Ecuador to all the countries in which we operate, from Mexico to Chile. The Ecuador plant produces for all of Latin America.

Would you say that having a plant here distinguishes Grunenthal from the other pharmaceutical companies in the country?

Definitely, because I believe that it allows us the flexibility to produce. We also generate work. The plant allows our group to introduce new products with more flexibility and a reduction in the time to market, compared to other companies in the country.

How does the pharmaceutical sector here compare to that of Panama?

They are different situations. Panama has limited local manufacturing, as opposed to Ecuador where we have multiple manufacturers. That is the reason why the government is insisting on raising the quality of the products. Government policies are different in each country, too.

What is your view of the role that pharmaceutical companies can and should play in supporting public health?

As companies dedicated to research, it is important that we make new technology available to the population and that we educate people in the use of that technology. It is also important that we continue working to reduce the time it takes for these products to reach the market so that they can make a difference in people’s lives as soon as possible. That is where we can best contribute; international companies have the best up-to-date practices related to drug safety and compliance, which regulate these internal practices and could be shared with local companies, thus improving the quality of their practices. We are talking about health and business. This is a very fine line, which must be widened so we can be more compliant. The industry has been negatively labeled at times, so I think it is important for our industry to work within these guidelines in order to protect the population.

What is Grunenthal’s vision for the sector?

Grunenthal’s vision is to be focused on the patient. We want to be the player that is close to the physicians and making available new technologies, as well as transferring information regarding the treatment of pathologies. Grunenthal mainly focuses on the treatment of pain and women’s health pathologies. We strive to become stronger partners for physicians, institutions, and patients in those areas.

Grunenthal recently acquired the Chilean pharmaceutical company Laboratorios Andrómaco. What is the importance of that acquisition for Grunenthal’s regional operations?

This acquisition will help to improve the availability of new products that we can promote and bring to patients. It is also an opportunity to grow not only in a business sense, but also to grow with our collaborators. We are bringing new ideas, and this is important for the company. Another objective is to make sure it continues to be a great place to work. This is related to having the capacity to attract and retain talent. You have to have people who are proud of being part of the Grunenthal group. Of course, we also want to consolidate our position as a main partner of our physicians and clients.



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