Jacek Furman – CEO of AFLOFARM Poland: We managed to turn our dreams into a concrete plan
Aflofarm was established in 1989, over the years becoming one of the largest drug manufacturers in Poland. What made you one of the market leaders today? What decisions taken over the years have been crucial?
Over these 32 years the needs and expectations of patients have completely changed, and thus the entire pharmaceutical market has changed. Aflofarm Farmacja Polska has built its success on the basis of hard work, thorough analyses, accurate observations, constant setting of new goals and continuous raising of the bar, What made us the leader of the OTC market for years is, above all, the courage, flexibility and speed of decision making, which have allowed us to react quickly to new trends. We are also 100% focused on patients’ needs, which has motivated us for years to look for new and better solutions, innovative combinations, and other forms of medicines, which altogether simply provide a better product that patients are eager to reach for.
You have been the president of the company since 2006. What goals did you set yourself for this position?
I wanted Aflofarm to be a significant pharmaceutical company with 100% Polish capital, which produces primarily medicaton. And this is what we managed to achieve. Aflofarm offers as many as 130 OTC (over-the-counter) drugs and over 60 prescription drugs – this is undoubtedly something to be proud of. We have 5 factories, we employ over 1200 people, we are the OTC market leader in Poland. I can confidently say that my brothers and I have managed to turn our dreams into a concrete plan, which we consistently implement.
You continually invest in R&D and have your own research laboratory. What makes you so focused on innovation?
For us innovation means looking for solutions that are not available on the market and which may facilitate the treatment process. It means combining several different substances in one product, so that the Patient does not have to take many preparations, it means changing the form of the medicine e.g. from large, difficult to swallow tablets to liquid or powder, production in the form of suspensions, which make us have less liquid to swallow – the latter is appreciated not only by seniors, but above all by parents of small children. We want our offer to be tailored to the real needs of patients, which is why we invest in modern technologies, apply pioneering solutions and research and development work, because. They enable the implementation of our assumptions. The future of pharmacy and medicine lies in innovation. This has been clearly demonstrated by Covid-19 situation.
You have a wide range of medicines and supplements. What was the basis for the development of the product offer?
Our goal is to create medicines, medical devices and supplements that are the response to the most pressing and life-reducing ailments, diseases and illnesses. At the same time we do everything to ensure that the products we offer are not only effective and safe, but also innovative, e.g. in terms of form of administration. Investments in innovation and constant improvement of the quality of our solutions allow us to expand our offer while taking care of our customers’ wallets. This makes patients trust our products and stay with us for longer, e.g. a medicine that has become a permanent fixture in their home first aid kits and to which I have a great fondness is Herbapect, a syrup for both dry and wet cough. With over 61 million packs sold, I firmly believe that there is no Pole who has not come across our Herbapect. Another example of a brand that has many loyal fans is the antiviral drug Neosine. Over the past five years, we have sold over 14 million packs, which means that almost every second Pole has been treated with our „Neosinka”. As leaders of the pharmaceutical industry we are honoured not only to accompany Poles in times of illness, but also in moments of pleasure, e.g. thanks to Inventum we are responsible for almost 22 million love raptures – who knows how many of them led to an increase in the birth rate.
Export is an important part of your business – Aflofarm’s products go to 30 countries around the world, and apart from the European Union, you are present in the United States and Middle Eastern countries. When and why did you decide to expand? Which market did it all start from?
Taking into account such a rich product portfolio, innovativeness e.g. concerning the form of given medicines and a enormous development potential, it is an absolutely natural process for us to expand into foreign markets. We are currently present in over 30 markets, including Western, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East and the USA. Foreign expansion and further acquisitions are important directions of our development, which determine the establishment of subsequent foreign branches of Aflofarm. Our ambition is to build a strong position of the company not only in Poland, but also in other markets, which results in geographical diversification of our activity. The consumer potential on foreign markets is also one of the determinants of decisions concerning further expansion. We are committed to responding efficiently to the needs of our Patients, so we constantly strive to expand the scope and horizon of our business.
You are actively promoting a healthy lifestyle as an important part of your strategy. You have established a foundation whose objective is, among others, to promote pro-health prophylaxis, as well as to popularise the knowledge of pharmacy and medicine. You also financially support social and cultural campaigns and finance scientific scholarships for particularly gifted pupils and students. Can you boast about the effects of the actions undertaken by the Foundation?
We Love Pabianice” is primarily focused on local activities, support for organizations and medical facilities, care for public green spaces, or important urban buildings that create the identity of Pabianice, with which we are particularly associated, and the local region. For a decade now, we have been actively supporting local projects and investments which contribute to the improvement of aesthetics, safety and quality of life by, among others, subsidizing the purchase of fire-fighting rescue vehicles for the State Fire Service in Pabianice, providing financial support to cultural events, such as the International Festival “Music of the World”, or revitalizing the Kindler Mausoleum, to which we contributed PLN 600 thousand. An important scope of activity of the We Love Pabianice Foundation is ongoing assistance to local medical institutions – as part of these activities we purchased new windows for the Pediatrics Department of the Pabianice Medical Center (PCM) and helped to finance the necessary equipment and supplies for the PCM during the fight against Covid-19, including sponsorship of the purchase of an Axcent Lyra X2 ventilator worth about PLN 100,000.
The Aflofarm Foundation is the second foundation we have set up in which we aim to promote and educate about health, pro-health behaviors and habits, medicine and pharmacy. Since the foundation was established, we have successfully conducted three major campaigns – “Don’t Burn at Start”, which aimed to promote anti-smoking attitudes and knowledge about cigarette addiction among young people aged 12-16. In 2019, we conducted the “Pharmacist First” campaign, where together with the Supreme Pharmaceutical Chamber, under the patronage of the Ministry of Health, we strengthened the image of the pharmacist and educated patients about pharmaceutical care. The last campaign we conducted concerned the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We drew the public’s attention to the changes that had taken place in the health, life and well-being of Poles 12 months after the start of the pandemic in Poland.
Finally, please speak about your plans for the future. Are you planning further expansion? Are you going to launch another innovative product in the nearest future? Are you planning to invest in the expansion of your production line?
Above all, we strive to develop our portfolio with more and more innovative and advanced medicines. This confirms our idea of supporting health and quality of life – we want to introduce effective and safe products created for the Patient’s needs. Today, our products are available in 30 countries on three continents, but I assume that there will be more. We create our own structures abroad and increase recognition of our brands on foreign markets. Expansion and investment in expanding the production line are a natural part of the company’s development.
President of the Management Board of AFLOFARM Farmacja Polska Sp. z o. o., the third largest Polish pharmaceutical company after Polpharma and Adamed, graduated in Management and Marketing.
As he recalls, the studies taught him, above all, to carry out projects on his own, to look for solutions and how to solve problems. They showed him how and where to look for knowledge and answers to questions, which later came in handy many times in his professional life. During his studies, he was a member of the MarketPlace research club. At the meetings of the club, there was mainly discussion – cases of the most important advertising and marketing campaigns were discussed.
Last Updated on July 27, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska