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My trip back home to Spain

by Bibiana Campos Seijo
October 17, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 41

I just returned from a trip to Spain. I was first in Barcelona to attend CPhI Worldwide 2016 and then traveled west to Galicia, on Spain’s Atlantic coast, to deliver a talk at my alma mater.

CPhI Worldwide is a three-day pharmaceutical exhibition that in 2016 brought together more than 36,000 pharma industry professionals under one roof. It’s a must-attend event for anyone working in pharma ingredients: It boasts more than 2,500 exhibitors, and a lot of deals are made there.

One of the best things about CPhI is that it is truly global, with representation from pharma companies from more than 150 countries.

One of the best things about the show in my view is that it is truly global, with representation from pharma companies from more than 150 countries. I was one of the judges of the CPhI Pharma Awards and was impressed by the breadth, diversity, and quality of the nominations, which always makes the job of picking winners for each of the 12 categories that are recognized quite difficult.

C&EN organized a roundtable discussion with a selection of high-profile individuals from the “leaders of the pack” in the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) industry. Under the title “Beyond APIs: The Move into Formulation Services,” C&EN Senior Editor Rick Mullin moderated a lively discussion with Guy Villax, chief executive officer of Hovione; James Bruno, owner of consulting firm Chemical & Pharmaceutical Solutions; Rudolf Hanko, CEO of Siegfried; and Laura Parks, senior vice president for enterprise customers at Patheon. They explored topics such as whether API and formulation can be reconciled in a combined offering, to what extent the developments in service extensions at API firms are a reflection of fundamental changes in the pharmaceutical industry, and more. The discussion gave us insight into the way these companies do business and how they confront challenges. In particular, I enjoyed the input of Villax, who described Hovione’s approach as “highly daring, highly caring.” He said customer service and maintaining a good relationship with clients are at the core of what Hovione does and are complemented by a willingness to solve problems and meet challenges, whatever they may be, head-on and by a drive to deliver quality offerings.

After Barcelona, I traveled to the west to deliver a talk at my alma mater, the University of Santiago de Compostela. I hadn’t been there for many years and was pleasantly surprised to see how much the faculty—and the campus in general—has advanced. I was lucky enough to receive a tour of two relatively new research institutes: CiQUS, or the Center for Research in Biological Chemistry & Molecular Materials, and CiMUS, or the Center for Research in Molecular Medicine & Chronic Diseases. I was impressed by their cutting-edge facilities and by how successful they have been at establishing international collaborations as well as securing funding not only from the regional government but also from national and European sources such as the European Research Council.

I was also very pleased to find out that there is a woman at the helm of the faculty of chemistry and that, in fact, she is the same person that way back in 1997 administered the Erasmus grants that made it possible for me to go to the U.K. for one year to study. That one year turned into 17 and eventually led me here to C&EN. I’m indebted to her and very proud to have trained at the University of Santiago de Compostela.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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