Orion MAGAZINE FOR ORION'S SHAREHOLDERS 1|2007
Beneﬁts of drug therapy
must be recognised
Primus inter pares magazine for orion's
There was plenty of lively debate at the Annual publisher
General Meeting of Orion. The shareholders
were keen to discuss matters such as the editor-in-chief
sufficiency of Orion’s spending on research
Orionintie 1 A
and product development. President & CEO P.O. Box 65, FI-02101 Espoo
Jukka Viinanen estimated that the sum of Tel. +358 10 426 3735
Fax +358 10 426 4435
approx. EUR 90 million was adequate for the
achievement of Orion’s goals, although he www.orion.fi
conceded that perhaps no amount of money is
enough when it comes to R&D. Alma Media Lehdentekijät Oy
He then focused the debate on the heart P.O. Box 502, FI-00101 Helsinki
Tel. +358 10 665 102
of the matter: ”Money alone is not the answer.
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We also have to do our work better than the others. Talent, competence, email@example.com
knowledge and know-how are essential.” www.lehdentekijat.fi
The recipe is simple: we must be primus inter pares, first among equals. managing editor
That is the key. Pekka Rinne
Talent, competence, knowledge and know-how were much in evidence
on the bottom line of Orion’s Qı income statement and also in its financial Richard Walker
ratios. The company’s position is very strong financially, but that it no
reason for us to rest on our laurels. Preparation for the future has required Taru Staudinger
a reassessment of our strategy. Finland is, and will continue to be, Orion’s
strong home base and market, but we are also seeking to strengthen our cover photo
position abroad in Central and Eastern Europe.
The research-based pharmaceutical industry faces perhaps the repro
biggest challenges of its entire history. In spite of huge investments, the
number of new proprietary drugs reaching the market has fallen. The printed by
industry’s responses have included massive acquisitions and increased PunaMusta, Joensuu 2007
R&D investments. But such investments are not producing successful new issn
products like they used to. Orion is putting a great deal of emphasis on 1458–1256 (Printed)
life-cycle thinking, the aim of which is to devise creative ways of extending
product life spans and generating positive cash flow. address sources
Of course, things might be quite different in the future. If, for example, Orion Corporation's register
of shareholders (Finnish Central
targeted drugs based on gene technology prove to be tomorrow’s successes, Securities Depository) and the
then the future could be better for small and nimble operators than for magazine's separate register of
ponderous giants. Using a rifle instead of a shotgun would cut the costs of subscribers
clinical studies quite dramatically. But one principle will remain the same: changes of address
Be the first among equals. Shareholders
Book-entry securities account operator
ANNE ALLO, editor-in-chief firstname.lastname@example.org or
tel. +358 10 426 3504
2 ORION 1 | 2007
4 Suvi-Anne Siimes:
Benefits of drug therapy must be recognised
8 Orion in the Czech Republic and Slovakia:
In the heart of Europe
12 Tari Haahtela:
Asthma programme became a success
15 Orion Group’s Q1 results
16 Alpha2 research:
From knowledge comes understanding
20 What term:
How do cells communicate?
22 Grant recipient:
24 Burana's road to success
22 24 8
ORION 1 | 2007 3
4 ORION 1 | 2007
Benefits of drug therapy
must be recognised
Suvi-Anne Siimes, the recently appointed Managing Director of Pharma
Industry Finland, thinks that the current debate over the need to cut the costs
of drug therapies is distorted. She finds it incomprehensible that the obvious
benefits of new medicines are not being discussed at all.
Text liisa kuittinen Photos kreetta kuokkanen
uvi-Anne Siimes has been flying managing director is always on the firing drugs as belonging to the pharmaceutical
on instruments for the last line. market. After a drug’s patent protection
few weeks. The task of leading – The biggest question of all at the has expired, it’s OK for generic
Pharma Industry Finland moment concerns the recognition of a role manufacturers to bring price-based
(PIF), the association of pharmaceutical for new drug therapy in health policy as competition to the marketplace. While
companies in Finland, has always been whole, states Mrs. Siimes. patent protection is still in force, however,
a demanding job and the new managing some role for the innovation on which the
director certainly found herself jumping in Right to good patent is based should be recognised.
at the deep end. treatment Mrs. Siimes stresses that the question
– When I arrived for work on the first New drugs and medicinal costs – that is of honouring patent protection is quite
of March I certainly noticed that the pace the topic on which Mrs. Siimes has had to fundamental because it will have an
of the job was hectic. There was no gentle make a stand time after time. She has had impact on the willingness of the research-
easing into this position – it was like to make the case for drug therapy not to based pharma industry to make future
jumping aboard a fast-moving train, says be viewed purely as a cost question, as it investments in Finland. For that reason
Mrs. Siimes. often is these days. cheaper copies should not be used as a
– My predecessor left me a well- – It has to be remembered that patients means of prematurely depressing the
managed office. The basic processes are are entitled to good and individually prices of drugs protected by patents.
all in good order and the office staff are appropriate treatment and that advanced – For example, in its pricing decisions
excellent. This is a good place to work, she drug therapies may genuinely save money the Pharmaceuticals Pricing Board has
adds. in other areas of the healthcare system. The often referred to the existence and price
Pharma Industry Finland’s new research-based pharma industry does not level of a generic drug with an indication
managing director has also been an regard it as a good thing that the hunt for other than that of the patent-protected
interesting person for the media, which cost savings is being targeted so keenly on drug in question. This practice gives cause
is just as well because she quickly proprietary drugs, states Mrs. Siimes. for concern.
found herself answering questions She hopes that the role and
from curious journalists. And since the importance of proprietary drugs will be Clinical research
pharmaceutical industry is currently recognised and would rather see the use in jeopardy
being subjected to pressures from many of drug therapies guided by the medical According to Mrs. Siimes, another major
different directions, there is never any diagnosis of people suffering from challenge concerns the research-based
shortage of matters requiring attention. illnesses. pharma industry’s perspective on how
PIF represents the interests of the – We have nothing against generic Finland will be able to compete in the
Finnish pharmaceutical industry and its substitution because we view generic market for clinical research. Finland’s
ORION 1 | 2007 5
– The biggest question of all at the moment
concerns the recognition of a role for new
drug therapy in health policy as whole.
➤ Suvi-Anne Siimes
Suvi-Anne Siimes, Lic. Pol. Sc., is
the recently appointed Managing
Director of Pharma Industry
Finland, the body responsible for
safeguarding the industrial policy
interests of the research-based
pharmaceutical industry. She took
up the position at the beginning of
March, when her predecessor, Jarmo
Born in 1963, Suvi-Anne Siimes is
a former Member of Parliament. She
was the Chairwoman of Finland’s
Left Alliance party in the years 1998–
2006. She is also a former member
of Pohja Municipal Council.
Suvi-Anne Siimes is married to
Dr. Kari Penkkilä, a healthcare centre
physician. They have three children.
6 ORION 1 | 2007
competitiveness in this area is affected by live on an isle of bliss in Finland. The – As Finland is a small market,
factors such as how long it takes to get a problems of the rest of the world gradually companies do not want to import their
research permit and how quickly research find their way here, too – counterfeit products for sale here at prices attracting
projects can be launched. drugs, being a case in point. intermediaries to forward them to markets
– At the moment the situation is – Up to now counterfeit drugs have where they are more expensive.
reasonable, but we still face a number of been a big problem mainly beyond our
challenges. The fact that the prerequisites borders, but the ripples of this scourge are Reimbursement system
for clinical research are also good in many reaching Finland’s shores, too. in need of an overhaul
of the new member states of the European The Finnish pharmaceutical industry
Union underlines the significance Problems of parallel trade has been very vocal in its demands for
of different kinds of time lags and must be addressed the reform of the present reimbursement
bureaucratic delays. They are beginning Another problematic question from system. The hope is that it would be
to influence corporate decision-making the standpoint of the research-based replaced by a system that is transparent,
when it comes to which country will host a pharmaceutical industry is parallel trade simple and equitable with regard to
clinical study. within the European Union, where drugs people suffering from different
Mrs. Siimes says that Finland has are exported from low price-level countries illnesses.
traditionally had the knowledge and to higher price-level countries. – We would like to see the present
expertise to perform competent and Parallel trade is not illegal, but it system replaced by the kind of system now
efficient clinical studies. It would be a results in big losses for pharma companies in place in Sweden, where the sickness
shame if this tradition were to be thrown engaged in research and product insurance compensation received by the
away needlessly. development because a third party takes patient depends on costs of the patient’s
the profits. Parallel export/import begins medicines: the more costs, the greater
Profitability is when the price of a drug in one EU percantage is reimbursed.
vital for the industry country is significantly lower than it is in – The essential thing is that the risks
Mrs. Siimes knows that not everyone another member state. associated with illness are spread evenly
approves of the fact that the The authorities have not regarded throughout society. That’s why we have
pharmaceutical industry is a market-based parallel trade as a major problem. Mrs. a reimbursement system in the first
business sector that seeks the highest Siimes believes it is an issue that needs to place. It is important that patients are not
possible level of profitability. Pharma be addressed. discriminated against on the basis of their
companies are often publicly criticised for – The nation does not benefit at all illness. At the moment the reimbursable
precisely this reason. when a product is exported from Finland amount of a drug’s price depends on
– In my opinion, the fact that to some other EU country thanks to the illness for which the medicine is
companies are profit-seeking does not an artificially depressed price. When indicated.
mean that they cannot have other goals regulating the price and reimbursability Mrs. Siimes believes that the reference
as well. Profitability for an enterprise of medicines, the authorities should be price system also harbours the risk of
is like breathing for a human being: a mindful of the fact that their decisions discrimination, and the pharma industry
vital function indeed, but not one which always have consequences. is opposed to its introduction. Mrs. Siimes
precludes the performance of others, too. Parallel trade also causes problems does not believe that there is any need for
We don’t have to stop breathing when we because fear of it prevents the pharma a reference price system, since drug costs
do something else, says Mrs. Siimes. companies from bringing the full range have already been successfully controlled
Mrs. Siimes points out that the of their products and package sizes to the by existing measures, most notably generic
research-based pharma industry does not Finnish market. substitution. π
ORION 1 | 2007 7
Orion in the Czech Republic
In the heart
For decades the Czech Republic and Slovakia belonged
to the same state, but the two countries can no longer
be equated with each other.
Text jussi-pekka aukia Photos michael cizek/afp/lehtikuva
zechoslovakia was peacefully Slovakia – population 5 million –,
broken up to form the Czech where the development of democracy
Republic and Slovakia at the lagged slightly behind its close
beginning of 1993, since when neighbour.
the two countries have taken many What holds true in Prague need not
small steps in different directions. In necessarily be valid in Bratislava. For that
healthcare, for example, this has led to the reason pharma companies generally have
development of two surprisingly different subsidiaries in both countries, although
markets, explains Jan Zukal. in the last few years they have been trying
– Since acceding to the European to combine their activities in the two
Union in 2004, the countries have once countries once again.
again converged, thanks to the Union’s – In the Czech Republic, asthma
internal legislation. Plenty of contacts and is treated by allergy physicians, but in
connections have been inherited from the Slovakia it is treated by both lung and
past, too. Many Slovaks study and work at allergy specialists. Products generally are
Czech universities and hospitals. And the differently reimbursed.
countries share a kindred language and General economic development is
common infrastructure. rapid in both countries, and the growth
Jan Zukal leads Orion’s subsidiary rates are two to three times higher than
for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The in Western Europe. The Czech Republic
company has its head office in Prague as is more affluent – its gross domestic
well as an office in Bratislava. product is already about 75% of the EU
average. Slovakia is at the 60% level, but
Growing prosperity its economy is growing more quickly. The
The pharmaceutical market is more average monthly wage is about EUR 680
developed in the Czech Republic in the Czech Republic and EUR 500 in
– population 10 million – than it is in Slovakia.
8 ORION 1 | 2007
ORION 1 | 2007 9
Trend of expenditure on health and of selected macroeconomic Expenses on healthcare
indicators 2000–2005 (2000=100) by sources of financing in the
150 Czech Republic in 2005
Estimated expenditure on health in constant prices of 2000
140 GDP in constant prices of 2000
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Source: IHIS CR Institute of health information and statistics of the Czech Republic, CZSO Household Budget Survey
During the first half of this decade healthcare expenditure grew strongly and significantly
Public budgets 8.3%
faster than GDP. Health insurance 80.4%
Private sources 11.3%
– In the Czech Republic there is significant pharma companies are present
already a relatively strong middle class, in the market. Source: IHIS CR Institute of health information and
statistics of the Czech Republic
which is still in the early stages of – There are 250 companies operating
development in Slovakia. The economies in the Czech Republic alone. Only the Sickness insurance of the working
of both countries have benefited from Indian companies have been absent until population covers most healthcare
massive investments by the international a recent acquisition. The domestic pharma expenditures. The role of private funding
is less than in Europe generally.
automotive industry in particular. industry has been taken over by foreign
Personally, I think that both countries companies, and is now rapidly gaining
will exceed the GDP average of the EU strength and expanding into neighbouring
member states within the next fifteen countries. Structure of cash expenditures
years. Generics are dominant in both on healthcare directly paid by
The regional differences are great countries, accounting for over a half of the individuals in the Czech Republic
in both countries. Especially Prague and pharmaceutical market, whereas elsewhere in 2005
Bratislava stand out as areas of higher in the EU their share varies between 15 and
Source: CZSO Household Budget Survey
purchasing power. They are like states 30 per cent. The reimbursement prices of
within a state. drugs are set biannually using the costs of
daily treatment as the reference price.
Competition and A special feature of the Czech market
the generic market is that one product in each drug category is
In both the Czech Republic and Slovakia fully reimbursable.
there is considerable growth potential for – Health centres have traditionally
pharmaceuticals, since the GDP share been free for everyone, and the people
of the healthcare sector is lower than in have used these to get free prescriptions Prescribed drugs 24.6%
the West and drugs account for a small for whatever ails them. This has meant Drugs without prescriptions, other drugs 34.9%
share of total healthcare expenses. In that money is spent on analgesics favoured Orthopedical and therapeutical devices 17.2%
the Czech Republic, for instance, drugs by physicians, and investment in new Other medical products 2.0%
constitute only one fifth of the country’s therapies – such as new cancer drugs – Out-patient care 17.7%
In-patient care 3.5%
total healthcare bill of 250 billion Czech has not been possible. The reimbursement
crowns (CZK). rate of new products has remained low in
OTC products contribute CZK 12 comparison with Western countries. In 2005 the average Czech citizen’s
billion to the Czech Republic’s total healthcare expenses were about
Waiting for change CZK 1,800 (approx. EUR 65). Medicines
pharmaceutical sales of CZK 54 billion,
accounted for almost 60 per cent of this
and the OTC market is growing strongly. Jan Zukal believes that the Czech spending.
Competition is very intense as all the Republic’s drug reimbursement and
10 ORION 1 | 2007
healthcare systems are in need of a
comprehensive overhaul. The most
important reform would be to get patients
to contribute towards the cost of health
services that have traditionally been
completely free of charge. This reform has
already been successfully introduced in
Slovakia and the newly elected government
in the Czech Republic is preparing to
The Czech Republic currently has
a statutory workers’ sickness insurance
system, the costs of which are shared by
employees and employers. The state is
responsible for the sickness insurance of
children, students and pensioners.
In Slovakia the sickness insurance
system is more centralised than in the
In the Czech Republic private
funding covers about a fifth of healthcare
expenditure either directly or through
voluntary insurance arrangements. In
Slovakia the share of private funding is
only about a half of that.
– The level of pay for healthcare – Orion’s most successful product in the Czech Republic and Slovakia is the anticoagulant
personnel in the public sector is relatively Warfarin, says Jan Zukal, who leads Orion’s sales company in the two countries.
low in both countries. In larger towns and
cities with a customer base large enough
to support private healthcare services, euros. Profitability is excellent, too, says – We are regarded as a trusted expert
the level of pay in the private sector is Jan Zukal with obvious satisfaction. in the field of allergy and lung illnesses.
significantly higher. Development in the early years was For that reason we are one of the countries
Labour is mobile: well-educated subdued, but now the pace is picking where the marketing and sales of the
Czechs seek better paid healthcare jobs in up. In accordance with the new strategy, Easyhaler product family is handled locally.
Germany and Britain, and the vacuum that ten new products will be launched in the Orion’s own hormone replacement
they leave is filled by Slovakians, who are Czech Republic this year. therapies are also in the programme here,
also attracted by better pay than in their – Last summer we started to invest having the same 6 per cent market share
homeland. in OTC medicines as a pilot project. We as the Easyhalers. International partners
put together a portfolio of six products. Novartis, Abbott and Pfizer are responsible
Area of growth The project has made a good start and for Orion’s other proprietary drugs in the
for Orion OTC medicines have quickly become an Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Orion started up in the Czech Republic in important product group. – We have 14 sales representatives
the early 1990s with one salesperson. The Orion’s best-selling product in the in the Czech Republic and 4 in Slovakia.
first active growth phase began in 1996, Czech Republic and Slovakia is the Slovakia is half the size of the Czech
when the company hired new local sales anticoagulant Warfarin. Sales of Warfarin Republic, but its pharmaceutical sales are
representatives, one of whom was Jan have grown every year, and Orion leads the only a fifth as big. On the other hand, the
Zukal. field in this medicine with a market share Slovakian market is growing at a much
– I was the sixth employee to be of over 90 per cent. faster rate and we have to invest there. π
taken on by the company, which was then Orion’s traditionally strong area in
generating net sales of one and half a the Czech Republic and Slovakia is allergy
million euros. Today, we have a staff of 26 medication (inhaled steroids), in which it
and our net sales are about four million has a 6 per cent market share.
ORION 1 | 2007 11
became a national
– In ten years, disability for work
due to asthma has plummeted
and the costs arising from the
illness are down despite the fact
that the number of patients has
more than doubled in Finland,
says Professor Tari Haahtela,
summarising the achievements of
the National Asthma Programme
that ended two years ago.
Text heikki vuonamo Photos risto laine, plugi and pekka ojalainen/kuvaliiteri
ust as the North Karelia Project did mild cases of the illness was already proportioned to the growing numbers of
for the prevention of coronary heart known before the Ministry of Social asthma patients, the decline is over 80
disease in the seventies and eighties, Affairs and Health launched the project. per cent, states Professor Haahtela.
the National Asthma Programme is Early treatment of inflammation He says that EUR 218 million was
becoming a new Finnish export left most patients free of symptoms. spent on the treatment of asthma in
project. – We are involved in preparing Asthma is by no means a minor 1993 and the expectation at that time
international asthma guidelines in the ailment. Of the illnesses eligible for was that treatment costs would rise to
”Global Initiative for Asthma” project, special reimbursement of treatment EUR 350 million in 2004. In actual fact
says Professor Tari Haahtela. expenses by the Social Insurance the asthma treatment bill for 2004 was
– The aim of the programme is better Institution of Finland (Kela), asthma is only EUR 213 million in spite of growing
treatment control of asthma and zero second only to hypertension in terms patient numbers. – The costs would have
tolerance for asthma mortality. of patient numbers. At the end of 2005, fallen even more, but new drugs brought
Professor Haahtela is a senior approximately 216,000 people were additional expenses.
physician at Helsinki University Central receiving special reimbursements for
Hospital’s Skin and Allergy Hospital, one their asthma medications, and over No magic trick
of Finland’s leading asthma specialists, 300,000 people were receiving basic Professor Haahtela says that the whole
and a fervent supporter of the National reimbursements. programme was accomplished with very
Asthma Programme. – Incapacity for work due to asthma modest funding. All the measures required
The importance of focusing has fallen by 76 per cent and the need by the programme hinged on the routine
asthma treatment on the alleviation of for hospital care by 56 per cent. And work of the programme participants.
inflammation from the onset of even if the amount of hospital treatment is There was no need for more time or
12 ORION 1 | 2007
money; instead, people were motivated Both patient organisations and the
and reorganised and available resources pharmaceutical industry were involved in
were targeted at a common goal. the training programme, and the country’s Modern
So the whole programme was
accomplished with the existing
pharmacies were keen participants too.
The key groups in the field were
organisation and human resources? lung physicians, paediatricians, general Asthma is an inflammatory illness
– That’s right, replies the practitioners, asthma nurses and that can be quickly and efficaciously
professor succinctly. He pays tribute pharmacists. controlled using inhaled anti-
to the contribution made by non-profit – In projects like this there has to be inflammatory corticosteroids and
organisations, especially the Finnish Lung someone who holds the whole network bronchodilators.
Health Association and its late general together, and of course one key factor Orion has long been involved in
secretary, professor Kaj Koskela, which in this respect was that the Finnish the development and manufacture
hosted the programme’s headquarters. healthcare system is efficiently organised of asthma drugs. Orion’s own
The National Asthma Programme was and it received the programme well. development work is based on the
not just an agreement made by experts on The Finns are generally good at this Easyhaler® device, a dry-powder
how asthma should be treated, but a full- kind of project, probably because the inhaler that doses asthma drugs
scale action programme. population is quite homogenous and have precisely, quickly and effectively.
In the initial stage of the programme a natural preference for action over words. – There are three good inhalers
all the elements of the healthcare sector The progressively minded National in the world – Easyhaler is one of
were harnessed and a network of broadly Public Health Institute has also been a key them, says Professor Haahtela.
trained liaison persons was established. player in these programmes.
ORION 1 | 2007 13
Plant sex greater is the incidence of allergies in
– The birch pollen grain that is carried
the population! The connection between
humans and soil-based microbes, protozoa
far and wide on the wind is actually a and parasites that train the immune Baton Blue
male reproductive cell, which is designed system has reduced. You could say that
to land on the stigma of a female plant, children ought to be a little hungry, dirty The Eastern Baton Blue (Scolitantides
bore a hole in it with the aid of a surface and cold – it toughens them up. Getting Orion) is one of Finland’s most
protein, grow a pollen tube down the style them out of their shoes in the summer, beautiful butterflies and a barometer
to the ovule, and fertilise it. Pollen summer camps in the countryside, for the state of our environment. Ten
grains are also easily inhaled, bringing scouting, or just working in the garden years ago the Eastern Baton Blue was
them into contact with the sensitive with the family – these are all good for an endangered species, but successful
mucous membranes of the nasal kids, he says. conservation measures have led to a
passages, where proteins cause – Of course, we don’t want to return recovery in its numbers.
unnecessary activation of the human to an earlier era of deprivation and Orion and the Eastern Baton Blue
immune system – an allergic reaction, serious infections, but we face the serious have something in common besides
says Professor Haahtela, explaining the question of how can we beef up the their shared name. Both Orion and
irritation caused by birch and many other immune system so that it reacts to bad the little butterfly reached important
plant pollen grains. nutrition and environmental particles milestones and turning points in their
That’s what happens to 26 per cent without compromising the progress that development during the 1990s. At
of the children in the Eastern Finnish has been made in healthcare and living that time Orion stopped using ozone-
city of Joensuu, but to only 2 per cent of conditions. depleting aerosols as a propellant for
the children just a hundred kilometres – We still have a lot of work to do on asthma medication and introduced
away at Pitkäranta in Russia. – Finnish this problem. New thinking on the causes the Easyhaler as a more environment-
children are very well schooled, but you of allergies has aroused interest in allergy friendly means of dosing asthma drugs.
can’t say the same for their immune vaccines. But that’s still a long way off. The little blue butterfly serves
systems. The high incidence of allergies So-called probiotics, health-promoting as an excellent symbol of Orion’s
among Finnish children is not due to bacterial products such as lactobacilli, environment-friendly thinking. It’s quite
an increase in risk factors, but to the may well show the way in this regard. a coincidence that the Eastern Baton
loss of protective immunity factors, says New biological medicines for serious, Blue will appear on a new postage
Professor Haahtela. already full-blown allergies, e.g. the anti- stamp to be issued this summer – just
– We describe the situation with the immunoglobulin E (anti-IgE) monoclonal in time to commemorate the 90th
so-called asphalt index: the greater the antibody omalizumab, are promising, anniversary of Orion’s establishment.
area of land covered with asphalt, the says Professor Haahtela. π
14 ORION 1 | 2007
R E S U LT
Good first quarter
Orion Group’s result and key financial indicators
remained at a very high level.
Text pekka rinne
irst-quarter operating profit almost Key figures on Orion Corporation 1–3/2007
F reached the record level of the
previous year. President & CEO Jukka
Viinanen’s assessment: – The key figures
are pretty good and, at 34 %, the ratio of Operating profit (EBIT) 61.1 62.9 –2.9% 196.7
operating profit to net sales is excellent. % of net sales 34.1% 36.2% 30.7%
Mr. Viinanen does point out that Profit before taxes 61.9 63.3 –2.3% 197.3
the operating profit figure benefits from Earnings per share, EUR 0.32 0.33 –3.9% 1.03
R&D expenses 21.6 21.1 +2.7% 84.1
the direct impact of royalty income
ROCE (before taxes), % 52.4% 67.4% 46.5%
from partner sales. – Nonetheless, the
ROE (after taxes), % 39.1% 51.1% 34.5%
percentage figure is still handsome, he Equity ratio, % 77.9% 64.3% 75.4%
adds. Gearing, % –27.6% –3.6% –22.6%
Net sales from Orion’s pharmaceuticals Personnel at the end of the period 3 127 3 025 +3.4% 3 061
business rose 3.1 per cent. In Finland,
the wholesales of Orion’s products were
up 9 per cent and the company’s market with the objective of identifying completely Net sales from animal health products
share rose to 9.4 per cent. Orion is new medicinal approaches to the treatment rose 13.7 per cent, the growth still being
Finland’s biggest pharmaceutical company of cancers. driven by the veterinary sedatives Domitor
in terms of both euros and the number – Our goal is to see whether a research and Domosedan and the reversal agent
of packages sold. And, according to Jukka company can develop for us a molecule Antisedan.
Viinanen, the gap between Orion and its based on an entirely new mechanism of Fermion’s net sales from deliveries of
next nearest competitor is growing only action, says Jukka Viinanen. pharmaceutical ingredients to customers
wider. Abbott has decided not to continue outside the Orion Group declined by 9.5
Parkinson’s products accounted for a with the further development programme per cent. Orion Diagnostica’s net sales rose
third of the net sales from pharmaceuticals. for intravenous levosimendan (Simdax) in 5 per cent and operating profit almost 15
Net sales from proprietary products the United States because it would not be per cent. The improvement in operating
declined by 7.4 per cent because shipments financially rational. Simdax will, however, profit was due to sales being focused on the
of the Parkinson’s drugs Stalevo and still be available in those countries where most profitable products. A new addition
Comtan to marketing partner Novartis it is approved. Simdax has marketing to the product range, a hygiene test called
were down 9 per cent on the corresponding authorisations or pending applications in Hygicult ON, has recently been launched
period last year due to the timing of over 40 countries. in its first markets.
deliveries. On the other hand, the Stalevo
and Comtess net sales of Orion’s own Strategy starts to bear fruit Outlook unchanged
sales organisation rose 20.6 per cent. At Net sales from Specialty Products were The full-year outlook estimate given in the
the end of January this year Comtan was almost 12 per cent up on the first quarter of interim report is similar to the one given
granted marketing authorisation in Japan, last year. Sales of Burana returned to their in February. Net sales will grow somewhat,
and Novartis launched the product on the previously good level. Solomet, an anti- and so too operating profit, despite the
Japanese market in April. inflammatory drug, was a new entrant to fact that marketing and research expenses
In its interim report Orion also the list of top-ten best sellers with over 70 will be higher than last year. Orion will
announced that it had entered into a per cent sales growth, which mainly came spend approximately EUR 90 million
research collaboration agreement with from Eastern European countries. The on pharmaceutical research and product
Aurigene Discovery Technologies Ltd, an product is one among several signals that development. Investments will be about
Indian-based discovery services company, Orion’s growth strategy is bearing fruit. EUR 35 million. π
ORION 1 | 2007 15
Pharmaceutical research is an extremely long-term undertaking, and the accumulated
knowledge that it brings is the best guarantee of a company’s future.
Research work on the alpha2 receptor has been going on for 30 years and
it is still producing new molecules and applications.
Text jussi-pekka aukia Illustration taru staudinger Photo harri pälviranta
harmaceutical research is all possibilities. You have to see the potential for – Back in the 1970s there was a desire
too often viewed from the the kind of medicines that do not yet exist. to find a blood pressure drug that would
limited perspective of individual Dr. Haapalinna estimates that perhaps possess the good properties of the alpha2
therapy areas, target proteins one fifth of new medicines are completely agonist clonidine without its adverse effect
and compounds affecting them. But novel. The rest are built on earlier of fatigue. However, precisely this side
the research expertise and platforms of work. The development of expertise and effect – the other side of the coin – became
a company are much broader than that. understanding in one direction generally the actual application of the proprietary
They are actually a closely interconnected increases opportunities in other areas too. molecules developed.
network of scientific knowledge, – Failure in one area – such as the Researchers responded to the
experience and awareness of clinical or discontinuation of clinical studies on a challenge by combining practical
medical needs. molecule – is not exclusively a negative knowledge and expertise in a new
The director of Orion’s non-clinical event. Even though a candidate molecule is way. Former Medipolar’s research
research and development, Dr. Antti lost, knowledge and experience is gained, manager Kauko Kurkela and the
Haapalinna, M.D. points out that drug points out Dr. Haapalinna. chemist responsible for synthesis of
discoveries do not happen by chance, – Adverse side effects and other new molecules Arto Karjalainen were
even though there are stories of such problems are not usually documented exploring the possibility of getting around
occurrences. in published studies. They are, however, the manufacturing method patent for the
– Pharmaceutical research is extremely recorded in the researching company’s animal sedative xylazine.
long-term work in which new things are own data files so that the same problems – While studying the chemical
studied on the basis of earlier knowledge can be avoided in the future. An structure of xylazine, the researchers noted
and experience. And innovation requires a organisation can neither develop nor similarities to the molecules of their own
deep understanding of the area in question. create anything new without setbacks, studies, which might prove to be even
Researchers have to be mindful of practical problems and challenges. better sedatives than xylazine itself. The
both sides of the coin, examining the researchers revisited their earlier studies
adverse effects of molecules with as much Everything affects everything in search of compounds that would have
enthusiasm as they have for their positive In the field of the alpha2 receptor and the greatest sedative effect, recalls Dr.
effects. At the same time they must its subtypes, Orion has conducted, Haapalinna.
understand the purpose for which the and continues to conduct, studies that In 1979, trials were conducted on
medicine is being developed. demonstrate how theoretical and practical one of the drug candidates thus selected.
– Research results have to be research work and individual innovations It had exactly the desired effect on the first
assessed with an open mind about future can take a project forward. animal tested – a young bull.
16 ORION 1 | 2007
What are the possible effects
of the alpha2 mechanism?
A few minutes after the injection was
administered the animal was sedated, but
still remained on its feet throughout the
entire period of efficacy.
The compound was further developed
into the product, detomidine, which
came onto the market in 1983 under
the trade name Domosedan. It was the
first proprietary drug ever developed in
– The real innovation was exploitation
of the molecule’s side effect. This
didn’t happen by chance – it was the
result of former Farmos’s research and
understanding of the relationships of the
structures and effects of the molecules.
Detomidine was followed by its more
potent sister molecule, medetomidine,
intended for smaller animals and
marketed under the trade name Domitor.
By this stage the sedative and analgesic
mechanism of alpha2 was already
– With the receptor identified, the
project’s pharmacological research was
expanded and the key persons involved
in the work included Risto Lammintausta
and Raimo Virtanen. The researchers
purposefully searched for new compounds
that could be applied as sedatives for cats
and dogs. Paradoxically, the lowering of
blood pressure was an undesirable effect
in this application.
The idea for the reversal agent atipamezole
hydrochloride, product name Antisedan,
was the result of experience gained from
clinical practice. The drug was launched
on the market in the late 1980s. It enabled
animals sedated with Domosedan and
Domitor to be revived quickly.
Veterinarian Tapani Vähä-Vahe, who
took part in the studies, understood that
it would be good if a sedated animal
could be revived immediately after
treatment so that it could walk on its own
legs from the veterinary treatment room
into the car.
– He identified a need and came
up with the idea for a product that did
not exist at the time. The atipamezole
hydrochloride molecule was subsequently
Drugs acting on alpha2 receptors can be used to achieve opposite effects, depending, developed on the same alpha2 research
for instance, on the size of the dose. platform.
ORION 1 | 2007 17
pathway. G-protein coupled receptors are
the most successful mechanism class,
with about 60 per cent of all the drugs
currently on the market affecting via their
– On the one hand, Orion’s research
into Parkinson’s disease, hormonal
cancers and cardiovascular diseases has
given us a deep understanding of other
pathophysiological changes and potential
therapeutic mechanisms and signalling
pathways, such as enzymes, ion channels
and nuclear receptors.
On the other hand, our research into
the metabolism of levodopa has opened up
new perspectives on Parkinson’s disease
and enabled us to better understand the
symptoms of other degenerative diseases
of the central nervous system.
In 1979 a compound known to cause fatigue was tried out as a veterinary sedative. For example, the mechanisms of
It had exactly the desired effect on the first animal tested – a young bull. Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia
drugs have a great deal in common, and
the drugs affect the same systems and
areas of the brain in opposite ways.
Good results and feedback on the periods of over 24 hours, a therapy setting – In particular, the older schizophrenia
veterinary side led to research into the in which it is expected to be particularly drugs cause Parkinsonian side effects,
possibilities for alpha2 sedatives for advantageous compared with sedatives while certain Parkinson’s disease drugs
humans. An asymmetric core structure currently in use. can cause hallucination, explains Dr.
of medotomidine was isolated in 1986, – This is a good example of how Haapalinna.
and following almost ten years of clinical clinical experience of a drug can be used – A deep understanding of the roles
trials was approved as a drug in the United in the identification of neurotransmitter molecule
States at the turn of the century. of additional possible mechanisms and the different
Dexmedetomidine, product name indications. Only clinical areas of the brain will give
Precedex, is available as a sedative for ICU experience and these kinds us opportunities to produce
patients in the United States and Japan. of additional studies can applications in which earlier
– At the same time as a molecule reveal all the benefits of a branches of research make
suitable for humans was being developed, drug, says Dr. Haapalinna. connections in different
we had to understand how the patient ways. For example, it may be
would really benefit from it. Among other New perspectives possible to find solutions for
possibilities, the drug’s potential as a Dr. Haapalinna thinks the treatment of pain where
sedative and analgesic in dental surgery that the Alpha2 research the mechanism is something
was studied. platform still has much other than alpha2.
Precedex is excellent as a sedative for to contribute. Advances Orion is a small pharma
patients in intensive care units because it in research and better Dr. Antti Haapalinna company by international
reduces anxiety and relieves pain without understanding of the points out that Orion’s standards and it has to be able
rendering the patient deeply unconscious intracellular signalling to exploit all of its accumulated
and incommunicable. The patient can be mechanisms are extending and atipamezole knowledge and the synergies
aroused and, for instance, asked how he or research capabilities to hydrochloride are among its research fields.
she feels. other illnesses too. exceptionally efficacious – Of course, you have to
A phase III study on dexmedetomidine Alpha2 is a so-called and selective drugs. venture into new areas if you
has just started with the aim of obtaining G-protein coupled receptor, are going to create something
a European marketing authorisation. This meaning that information arriving at totally new. But then it takes much longer
study will clarify the applicability of the the cell membrane is transmitted into to accumulate the necessary depth of
drug for intravenous administration for the cell through the G-protein signal expertise, states Dr. Haapalinna. π
18 ORION 1 | 2007
Dr. Arto Karjalainen retired from
Orion earlier this spring.
He is pictured here with Mirja-Liisa
Niemi in the research and development
laboratory in 1987.
with the help of just one laboratory
– We collaborated closely with the
University of Oulu’s Department of
Pharmacology. In addition, Farmos’s
research unit in Turku performed
toxicological and other studies on the
molecules that we synthesised.
The first proprietary drug project in
Keen innovator Finland was thus based on a network
of collaborating researchers. As the
project progressed, the collaboration was
Docent Arto Karjalainen, Ph.D. retired at the beginning expanded to include the universities of
Turku, Kuopio and Helsinki as well as a
of February after a long and successful career in certain foreign research institutes.
pharmaceutical research in Orion. Dr. Karjalainen was – A new alkyl chain, codenamed MPV-
207 A IV, that I synthesised in 1979 proved
involved in the first proprietary drug project in Finland. to be very efficacious as a blood-pressure-
lowering compound. Even though this
structure also caused fatigue and had
n 1971, Arto Karjalainen got his dream other alpha2 agonists that lower blood other properties, its structural modification
I job when he was taken on by Leiras
pharmaceutical company as a young
researcher specialising in organic chemistry.
pressure through the central nervous
system. He got Kauko Kurkela and Kaj
Fernström, the President of Farmos,
provided opportunities for much further
The animal sedatives, detomidine
The work involved finding new synthesis interested in the development of new blood and medetomidine, developed over the
methods for known drugs, because in those pressure drugs. years from the same basic structure were
days patent protection covered only the Even in the global context, alpha2 just one of the applications found for
manufacturing method and not the molecule research was then quite new and many developments of the MPV 207 molecule.
itself. pharma companies were looking into its Dexmedetomine is another notable
– My work was interesting and exactly possibilities. example.
what I had wanted to do. Nonetheless, – Clonidine was a known and efficacious – We also achieved our original goal of
listening to foreign colleagues presenting blood pressure drug, but it did have some developing selective blood pressure drug
their own original drug projects at adverse side effects – most notably fatigue. candidates, one of which progressed as
international conferences made a The aim was to synthesise new molecules far as phase II clinical trials. However,
deep impression on me, recalls Dr. that would be more selectively efficacious its development was halted due to rapid
Karjalainen. than clonidine. metabolic conversion of the compound
When in 1976, Kauko Kurkela, the The launch of the project was quite an when administered orally, says Dr.
research manager of Medipolar, offered economic risk, any by no means everyone Karjalainen.
him a job as a developer of new drug believed that such research could be done – We also studied the antifungal effects
therapies, Arto Karjalainen accepted the in Finland. Fortunately, Sitra (the Finnish of modified MPV 207 structures. And those
challenge enthusiastically. Innovation Fund) was persuaded to join the compounds were starting points of the
– Working at the University of Oulu’s project as a funding provider. The project structural design for another new project in
Department of Pharmacology, Assistant was certainly not a large one by today’s which efficacious and selective aromatase
Professor Heikki Karppanen had been standards: for instance, Dr. Karjalainen did enzyme inhibitors were developed with an
studying the mechanisms of clonidine and his research on top of other assignments eye on the treatment of breast cancer. π
ORION 1 | 2007 19
W H AT T E R M ?
Receptors and ligands:
How do cells communicate?
Text jussi-pekka aukia Illustrations taru staudinger
ells communicate with properties of the ligand affect the receptor
The regulation of cellular each other by sending and in the same way and are just as important
activity by means of receiving chemical messages as its three-dimensional shape. When all
such as hormones and the prerequisites are in order, the desired
receptors is complex neurotransmitters. The receptors that process starts up in the cell.
yet flexible. receive these messages may be on the If the anti-theft electronics of your
cell’s surface or inside it. The receptors car malfunctions, you’ll probably have to
are large molecules to which the summon a pick-up truck and have it towed
messenger molecules from other cells away to the service centre. The human
attach themselves by chemical bonds. body deals with failure of its cellular
The messenger molecule, which communications system in a more self-
is called a ligand, usually bumps reliant way. If receptor-ligand interaction
into the receptor rather than actively does not work, the cell builds itself a new
seeking it out. The more ligands there receptor that will function in the desired
are in the vicinity of the receptor, the manner.
more likely it is that a meeting will
take place. Communication between Complex yet flexible
nerve cells, on the other hand, is mechanism
targeted, since the neurotransmitter is Ligand binding triggers the receptor and
physically connected to the receiving cell the incoming message is passed on. A
or cells. receptor on the cell surface transmits the
For the ligand to bind successfully to message into the cell, where a secondary
the receptor, the three-dimensional shapes system handles further downstream
of both must correspond exactly. If the fit signalling. The signalling pathway is
is not perfect, the ligand can neither bind intricate and includes many kinds of
to the receptor nor influence it. But mere chemical events that typically amplify and
attachment is not enough. A ligand is like propagate the signal. The end-result of all
the smart key of a modern automobile. this activity is that the cell reacts in the
The physical shape of the key has to be desired way: for instance, its metabolism
right, but it also has to communicate or the regulation of its genes is altered.
electronically with the vehicle before In spite of its complexity,
the engine can be started. The chemical the regulation of cellular activity
20 ORION 1 | 2007
through receptor-ligand interaction Although some ligands spread growth factors. Such a drug can influence
is extremely flexible. Because of the throughout the body by blood circulation, receptors in the same way as the body’s
signal amplification mechanism, a very they can target just those cells that have own ligands, but it may also inhibit or
small number of ligands can achieve receptors intended for them. On the block ligand-receptor interaction. For
the desired reaction in the receiving other hand, the same ligand can achieve instance, a medicinal molecule can bind to
cells. If the number of ligands is different effects in different organs if a receptor so as to prevent the right ligand
too small, the cells can respond by their receptors and signalling systems are from making a connection. π
increasing the number of receptors. The different.
communications chain can also weaken
a signal if it is unnecessary or some Receptors and medicines
other more important system is being Many drugs affect the receptors of ligands
influenced counterproductively. such as hormones, neurotransmitters and
ORION 1 | 2007 21
THIS WE SUPPORT
Nitric oxide and
Could nitro and its release of nitric oxide into the cervical channel be the answer to
the initiation of labour in post-term pregnancy? Specialist physician Mervi Väisänen-
Tommiska is studying this question as an extension of her doctoral research, in which she
developed a method of measuring nitric oxide metabolites in the human cervix. In autumn
2006 she received a grant for her research from the Orion-Farmos Research Foundation.
Text marita kokko Photo laura vuoma
r. Mervi Väisänen-Tommiska's As a practical physician, Mervi speak of a four-week full-term window
doctoral research showed that Väisänen-Tommiska wants to develop a rather than a calculated delivery date.
the release of nitric oxide in therapy as a result of her research. When the estimated delivery date has
the cells of the cervix increases – Finnish women want to participate passed, the expectant mother starts to
during pregnancy, cervical ripening and, in studies. The willingness of the become anxious. The condition isn’t
in particular, during labour. In post-term population to take part in medical research helped by inquisitive relatives at the doors
pregnancy, however, very little nitric oxide is high by international standards. It is and windows. The pressure builds to
is released in the cervical channel. indicative of the confidence that they have induce labour.
In the future it may be possible in their physicians. – However, inducing labour is not
to assess the risk of premature and always a good solution, because it is
postmature birth by testing for nitric oxide From calculated delivery date believed that induced deliveries don’t go
in the cervical channel. However, such to full-term window as well. Whether or not that is really true
tests will require years of development Five per cent of births occur before the remains unstudied.
work. 37th week of pregnancy, 90 per cent fit
Mervi Väisänen-Tommiska’s research into the full-term window, i.e. weeks 38- Postmaturity brings
at this stage focuses on postmaturity. 42, and five per cent are postmature. Mervi health problems
– I do medical research by giving post- Väisänen-Tommiska is interested in the The aim of prematurity studies is to screen
term mothers nitro, a drug that releases five-per-cent groups outside the full-term for cases where medication can prolong the
nitric oxide. Nitro is generally used to gestation window. pregnancy, whereas the aim of postmaturity
treat angina pectoris, the tablet being – It seems that postmaturity recurs. studies is to find out how the birthing
placed under the tongue in a heart attack Some women know and say that they will mechanism can be initiated by influencing
situation. We place nitro or a placebo not go into labour at full term. It may be the synthesis of cervical nitric oxide.
in the vagina of post-term mothers who that the human being is such an advanced The danger of postmaturity is that
voluntarily enrol in the study. The nitro species that it has individual gestation both mother and child can suffer health
releases a lot of secreted nitric oxide and periods. problems. Real post-term pregnancies are
induces labour. Mervi Väisänen-Tommiska prefers to risky. The risk of illness for mother and
22 ORION 1 | 2007
Specialist physician and researcher Mervi
Väisänen-Tommiska received a EUR 20,000
grant from the Orion-Farmos Research
Foundation for her further research work
on postmature pregnancies. As a clinical
researcher she hopes that her research will
solve some of the problems that she has
encountered in her work.
Further studies in Italy
Mervi Väisänen-Tommiska’s doctoral
research is being extended internationally.
In Italy researchers are using the method
specifically to study mothers experiencing
premature contractions. Dr. Väisänen-
Tommiska is excited that others have also
adopted the method and are obtaining
results that support her own theories.
– In practice we have also observed
that there are clear nitric oxide changes in
human papillomavirus infections, which
are associated with cervical cancer. This is
my second line of research, in which I am
now supervising a Ph D student, says Mervi
Dr. Väisänen-Tommiska has made an
energetic start to her own further research.
She is heavily involved in clinical work
and has conducted her research work in
addition to two specialist degrees.
– Nowadays it’s considered the norm
to train as a medical researcher and to do
one’s doctoral thesis earlier. For me, the
most important doctoral thesis of all was
my three children. My career came after
them. It was fantastic that the research I
pursued produced useful results. As for
my own method, it’s rather like a child of
my own. I’d like to take it further and see
how it grows and develops.
The work of a clinical researcher is
child is many times higher than it is in of danger. Women who give birth driven by his or her own inner fire and
a normal full-term pregnancy. Placental prematurely most often experience a thirst for knowledge. For Mervi Väisänen-
insufficiency increases and the amniotic sudden loss of amniotic fluid. It must Tommiska, research is a very rewarding
fluid turns green more readily. also be remembered that a pregnancy hobby that gives rhythm to life.
According to Dr. Väisänen- should not be prolonged in an infection – I am continuing with my research,
Tommiska, we are still years away from situation. But there are certainly for instance, in my office after night duty
the systematic prevention of premature situations in which we could help at Kätilöopisto maternity hospital or in my
birth. The only known prematurity risk an expectant mother worried about den at home when all the daily household
factors are earlier preterm births and premature contractions. Ideally, we chores have been done. I don’t underrate
primiparity. should have a test enabling us to reassure the importance of my research work, but I
– The symptoms that prompt people women who come to the clinic because am still a clinical physician who treats real
to take action are not necessarily signs of premature contractions. people. That’s why I became a physician. π
ORION 1 | 2007 23
S U P P LY C H A I N
The granting of the status of a selfcare product to Burana
(ibuprofen) in 1986 was a milestone event. For the Finns, the
brand Burana became burana – a generic name for pain relief.
Orion’s Turku plant manufactures about 1.6 million Burana
tablets in every production batch.
Text marita kokko Photos mari männistö
lant manager Risto Hämäläinen single day when Burana 200 and Burana 400
knows the Burana story. He started were not available over the counter at Finnish
work at former Medipolar in Oulu pharmacies.
in January 1975. The production of Burana tablets and their active ingredient,
Burana as a prescription drug began there ibuprofen, were first manufactured in Oulu.
four years later, in 1979. It became a selfcare – We produced tablets mainly for the
product in March 1986. Medipolar became domestic market but also for export to the
part of Orion with the merger of Farmos in former Soviet Union, with which Finland
1990. Risto Hämäläinen has been responsible traded on the basis of a bilateral trade
for both the manufacture of the tablets and agreement. When ibuprofen was approved for
their packaging, except during the transitional sale over the counter in the United States and
period when manufacture had already been Great Britain, we were encouraged to seek for
transferred to Turku but packaging continued prescription-free availability in Finland, too.
in Oulu. Now the whole process and the plant The pharmaceutical regulators gave the green
manager are under the same roof in Turku. light at the second attempt.
– From day one I have been responsible The largest OTC package contained
for ensuring the availability of Burana for 20 tablets, each of 200 milligrams. The
selfcare. In all those years there has not been a authorities based their decision on the fact
24 ORION 1 | 2007
ORION 1 | 2007 25
S U P P LY C H A I N
packaged significant quantities of the
product before the machinery and
equipment was moved.
The personnel moving along brought
a dictionary of the Oulu dialect to help
their colleagues in Turku understand what
they were talking about. Risto Hämäläinen
recalls that two packaging professionals
moved to Turku, one of them having since
made Turku his new home permanently.
Despite his strong family ties to Oulu,
Risto Hämäläinen has acquired a boat and
sea charts of the Turku archipelago.
The Burana family has evolved since The pharma industry has traditionally
the product received OTC status been labour intensive. When the first
21 years ago. – It is one the Turku plant’s automated lines were installed at the
mainstays, states Plant Manager Risto Oulu plant, they churned out about 80
packages a minute, but they still had to be
loaded onto pallets manually by employees
working on two shifts.
that four grams of ibuprofen is a safe – Without large volumes there never
amount. would have been such robots. Because we
– In the 1980s you could buy only worked on two shifts, the investment was
one pack of Burana at the same chemist considered rational. The robot certainly
on the same visit. Sales were very strictly made light work of what had been a
controlled. According to today’s rules, you laborious task.
can buy Burana 400 and Burana-Caps at
the same time. Many versions
Along the way, a major challenge was of Burana
the relocation of the packaging operation Burana is nowadays manufactured in
from Oulu to Turku. That required the tablet sizes of 200, 400, 600 and 800
manufacture of a large quantity of tablets milligrams. The most recent additions
for stockpiling. to the product family are Burana-C and
– I was responsible for the transition. Burana-Caps, which last year changed
To ensure continued availability, we colour and shape. The new Burana-Caps
26 ORION 1 | 2007
Each raw material vessel is identified.
Arriving material is inspected and samples
are taken for analysis. Taina Snell is taking
are small, red and more rounded. The
active ingredient, ibuprofen, is purchased
from abroad as it is no longer produced in
Each 400 mg tablet batch made at the
Turku plant consists of 1,600,000 tablets,
which translates into 160,000 packages.
Batches are made according to demand
and sales forecasts.
– When the mixture of the
ingredients has been compressed into
tablets, the first thing is to check that
the average weight, strength and height
of the tablets are in line with the set
Without a film coating the tablets
would taste bitter.
After the coating, another check is
made to ensure that the tablets meet all
the other requirements specified in the
marketing authorisation. After analysis
the product is packaged and released for
– The manufacturing process has
been simplified as much as possible as
volumes have grown over the years. By
increasing the batch size we have been
able to bring down the costs of analysis
per tablet and to improve the speed and
fluency of packaging work. We don’t need
ORION 1 | 2007 27
S U P P LY C H A I N
Line operator Sanna Mustonen plays her part in ensuring that Burana tablets are packaged properly before their journey
to the warehouse, distributor, pharmacy and ultimately the consumer.
to change batches and clean the lines as – Every time a new batch is completed,
often as we would with small production
the fundamental quality factors are
analysed in the laboratory. This ensures
In the packaging line, retail packs are that the quality is always up to the standard Orion’s Turku plant employs 240
spat out at a rate of over 200 per minute, required by the terms of the marketing people in production as well as
to be further packed into wholesale authorisation. We also have internal another 80 in the laboratories
boxes. process controls that allow us to monitor and quality assurance. The
parameters during the manufacturing plant generally operates in two
Quality assurance process. shifts. In addition to Burana
has the final word But the product cannot be released for and other tablets, the Turku
Many different quality control measures sale without a green light from the quality plant manufactures ointments,
are included in the supply chain of assurance department. gels, hormone preparations and
Burana, and the manufacturing takes – Quality assurance is a totally cancer drugs.
place in a process meeting strict independent unit and it always has the
validation criteria. final word, assures Risto Hämäläinen. π
28 ORION 1 | 2007
Ninety-year-old Orion decided on a fresh approach in its Finnish TV
advertising campaign, which comprises three short cinematographic
stories of everyday Finnish life and experience. Well-known names from
the world of Finnish cinema were commissioned to make the films,
although it was the first time they had worked on commercials.
Text liisa teirisalo Photos sarri kukkonen and tuotantoyhtiö film magica
Mr. Jarmo Kettu,
rion’s jubilee year TV campaign In a health spa: ”How much off if I skip
consists of three short cinemato- the sauna altogether…. or if I swim in the
believes that the
graphic stories. The scripts for children’s pool…. or wade even?” campaign will
the commercials were written by the King In the pharmacy he comments to help pharmacy
Advertising Agency, and Film Magica was another customer: customers to decide
selected as the production company. ”They sell that sticking plaster by the which products are
One of the commercials tells the story metre. Better measure it so you won’t have to worth substituting
of a family from the countryside who pay extra.” for others and
which are not.
have come to the city to shop at a large The kindly looking pharmacist doesn’t
shopping centre. The story begins in the flinch, she just hands the man an Orion
parking lot. The father of the family (actor bag across the counter: by a business in diagnostic tests and
Jari Pehkonen) rants: ”Here are your medicines.” systems. That’s what we’re all about now.
”Has everyone in the world come shopping The man thanks her rather deferentially. Well-known film director Matti Ijäs, who
on the same day? Just look at them – those At last, he is satisfied with the purchase price. has never before directed TV commercials,
trousers were not designed for human legs!” – We’re working hard to ensure has directed the ads. He accepted the
The next scene is in a sushi bar. The man’s that Orion retains its leadership of the assignment because the client is a major
exasperated wife tries to get him to eat: Finnish market. The key messages are Finnish company and because the case is
”Come on man… just try one.” Finnishness, diversity of product range, not a conventional TV commercial. Behind
”Huh… not half as good as whitebait.” availability and moderate prices, says Jarmo the camera he got Kari Sohlberg, who has
”Oh, you’re giving me a splitting Kettu, Marketing Manager for Orion’s worked on many notable Finnish films.
headache!” pharmaceuticals in Finland. Actor Martti Suosalo was brought on
The man takes his wife’s words literally – The character played by Martti Suosalo board at Matti Ijäs’s suggestion, and he too
and hurries off to find a pharmacy. There, is concerned about getting value for money. had never worked before in commercials.
he is pleasantly surprised to find everything The buyer can always complain. Our TV The role of the father in the shopping centre
is to his liking. campaign tries to tell the public how price commercial was played by Jari Pehkonen.
”At last, something familiar! Orion is here, issues are in reality. The producers had some misgivings about
too.” – This is not a corporate image the use of regional dialects. Would people in
The second story follows the movements campaign; it is more a question of different parts of country be able to laugh at
of a man who is more than a little tight with strengthening the bond between public themselves? The dialect of Savo was chosen
his money, acted by Martti Suosalo: ”Is that image and products. It’s about Orion being because of its peculiar sympathetic character.
really as low as you can go? If I take two, can a part of everyday Finnish lives – we all In the early autumn, the series will continue
I have the second one half price?” need a Burana from time to time. with one more theme – this time highlighting
In a restaurant: ”How about 20–25 per – Orion is an innovative company. The key the diversity of Orion’s product range.
cent off ? I haven’t touched the tomato, radish messages that we want to convey are Orion’s – It will be interesting to see how
and rocket. Isn’t that a good deal – I mean innovativeness and the fact that it returned physicians react to the commercial in which
to say, you’ve almost got another meal there, to its roots a year ago. Now we are purely they play a prominent role, adds Jarmo Kettu
haven’t you?” a pharmaceutical company complemented tantalisingly. π
ORION 1 | 2007 29
Text pekka rinne
In 1957 Lääketehdas Orion Oy’s company brochure for 2007 fills
net sales exceeded one billion up 54 pages with another 102
Hannu Syrjänen Jukka Ylppö Finnish marks for the first time. pages devoted to the financial
In today’s money that is about statements for 2006 and related
Ylppö and Syrjänen EUR 124 million. Lääketehdas information, making a grand total
Orion Oy , the biggest subsidiary of 156 pages.
join Orion's Board of the parent company Regulus, The information content of
Orion’s Annual General Meeting elected Hannu Syrjänen showed a profit of 24 million Lääketehdas Orion’s annual
and Jukka Ylppö as new members of the Board of Directors, Finnish marks, about EUR 3 report for 1957 consisted of
which at its first meeting elected Mr. Ylppö as Vice Chairman million, and paid out dividends a brief review of the Finnish
of the Board. totalling 11 million Finnish marks, economy and a meagre situation
Jukka Ylppö, 51, holds master’s degrees in engineering
about EUR 1.4 million. report on the parent company’s
and economics. He has spent his entire career in product
development tasks with ABB Oy, which he joined in 1981.
Regulus’s net sales were 2.2 subsidiaries. The main economic
He currently works for ABB as a Senior Advisor on the billion Finnish marks, roughly events mentioned were the
development of software and control systems for industrial EUR 273 million, and its dividend devaluation of the Finnish
electric drives. Mr. Ylppö is a significant shareholder of Orion. pay-out was 16.4 million Finnish mark and the abolition of price
Introducing himself to the Annual General Meeting, marks, about EUR 2 million. regulation. The annual report
he emphasised that he was joining the Board of Directors first Lääketehdas Orion employed 514 also told about a milestone
and foremost as a shareholder. Mr. Ylppö is a member of the
people and the Regulus group event that took place on 24
Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.
Hannu Syrjänen, 56, President & CEO of SanomaWSOY as a whole about one thousand April: ”the idea of establishing
Corporation and Chairman of its Executive Management people. a pharmaceutical industry
Group, is a Master of Laws and also holds a bachelor’s degree association was discussed by
in economics. Orion’s Board of Directors elected him to serve A long story short Finland’s pharma companies as a
as a member of the Compensation Committee. Before taking Lääketehdas Orion’s annual means of achieving a permanent
over the reins at SanomaWSOY, Mr. Syrjänen was the President report for 1957 measured 15 x framework for collaboration.”
& CEO of Rautakirja Corporation. He is also Chairman of the
20 centimetres and contained
Board of Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company.
Hannu Syrjänen believes that the implementation of just eight pages, one of which
Orion's internationalisation strategy is the area in which he was blank. Information on the
can bring the most to the company. Under his leadership, parent company Regulus was
SanomaWSOY has internationalised quickly and now compressed into just six
operates in over 20 European countries. pages of text. How times
have changed! Orion’s
Susanna Siira, M.Sc.(Eng.), Orion’s newly appointed Investor
Relations Manager, took up her position on 10 April. Her job
description includes various duties concerned with financial
and investor communications as well as the upkeep and
development of the ” Investors” section of the Group’s
internet portal. Susanna Siira joined Orion from Stora Enso,
where she worked for the past six years mainly in corporate
communications posts, and most recently as the Financial
30 ORION 1 | 2007
The price of crude oil has boosted the
profits of oil producers to record levels. For
example, the monthly revenues of the OPEC
countries jumped from USD 25 billion to
USD 60 billion almost over night. When
the oil revenues of Russia and Norway are
added on top of that, the annual revenues
of the oil-exporting countries rises to over a
trillion dollars. Russia’s ”oil fund” already
amounts to more than USD 100 billion, but
it is only a tenth of Norway’s fund, which is
worth over USD 1,100 billion. Even though
the price of oil has fallen slightly, the world is
awash with oil-generated cash still looking for a home. And that The growth of the US economy has been driven by consumers,
excess liquidity may contain the seed of a financial crisis. whose debt ratio is over 100 per cent. Mortgage providers in the
The foreign exchange reserves of Asia’s central banks have United States have even been willing to lend more than the cost
swollen like bread dough. The foreign exchange reserves of of home acquisition. Lending has been based on the same view as
China’s central bank alone are as big as Norway’s oil fund. With that held by the management of Finland’s now defunct Skopbank:
that kind of money you could buy the New York Stock Exchange’s Household wealth will continue to grow for all eternity. There is
three most valuable companies – Exxon, General Electric and good reason to remember that what goes up must come down.
Citigroup. And sooner or later it goes back up again.
If China and the other industrialising countries of Asia had not The five-year plan – a remnant of the old Communist planned
bought US bonds, the country’s double deficit would already have economy – still lives on in China, although its usefulness must be
blown up in its face, triggering a global economic downturn. The highly questionable. The constantly accelerating pace of change
fact is that the 90 million members of China’s ruling Communist makes it practically impossible to see five years ahead in any
Party hold the keys to the world’s biggest economy – the USA. A economy. Anyway, there is now a clear change of emphasis in
silent, and so far victimless, revolution of enormous proportions China’s plan. The Chinese government is now encouraging its
has actually taken place. A balance of terror existed during the citizens to consume and is also allocating funds to take care of
arms race of the Cold War era. Now we have an other balance social problems. Differences in living standards are so enormous
of terror, because everyone will suffer if there are trade boycotts that the gap between rich and poor just has to be narrowed. Before
or rapid changes in investment strategies. The only wise course long, funding will surely be allocated to healthcare as well. The
of action is to defuse the bomb very carefully and aim for a soft country is certainly in need of medicines, but purchasing power
landing. Fortunately, there are some early indications that that is is weak and counterfeit drugs are a big problem. It has been
how things will pan out. estimated that half of the drugs on the world market are counterfeit
products originating from China. Things can only get better in this
respect – and everyone will benefit from the improvement.
ORION 1 | 2007 31
atte matilainen, published in pilleri magazine 1965:1
Orion Corporation is a Finnish stock exchange company which Orion has also a large portfolio of generic, off-patent
develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals, active prescription medicines, hospital treatments and self-
pharmaceutical ingredients and diagnostic tests for global care products. The subsidiary Fermion produces active
markets. Orion has been building well-being for as many as pharmaceutical ingredients for both Orion and other
90 years. pharmaceutical companies.
Pharmaceuticals account for about 95% of Orion’s net sales, Orion’s diagnostic tests are used widely around the world to
of which a considerable part comes from proprietary help in diagnosing patients and to contribute to
patented pharmaceutical innovations. Orion the follow-up of treatment. The emphasis in this
carries on intensive research with the aim product sector is on easy-to-use and rapid
of introducing new innovative treatments point-of-care tests. The leading brand is the
to global markets. The core therapy QuikRead® test for diagnosing infections.
areas in Orion’s product and research Orion’s strategy emphasises profitable
strategy are the central nervous system, growth and increased shareholder value,
cardiology and critical care, and urology whilst keeping business risks under
and oncology. In global marketing, control. Orion aims at strengthening
Orion enters into licensing partnerships its European presence. The company
with other pharmaceutical companies. is promoting the growth of all of its
Stalevo® and Comtess®/Comtan®, businesses, but the best long-term growth
for Parkinson’s disease, are the largest opportunities are seen in the proprietary
products by sales in Orion’s portfolio. products.
Orion Corporation • Orionintie 1 A,• P.O.Box 65, FI-02101 Espoo, Finland • Tel. +358 10 4261 • www.orion.fi