“We have always been very export-oriented, which is not typical for companies like ours,” explains Boris Röder, responsible for corporate communications at URSAPHARM Arzneimittel GmbH. “Usually, the medium-sized players of our industry focus on the domestic market. Today, almost half of our business volume falls to export activities. We are active all over Europe. Here, the Benelux countries, Scandinavia, Poland, France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are key markets.
Last year, we enjoyed tremendous growth rates in China, and this year we are going to enter the market in the Middle East. We also sell to India. In countries such as India and China, there is heavy pollution, which causes eye problems. Therefore, there is a great demand for eye care products. In 2014, we will participate in the Tokyo World Congress. For sure, the fair will give our business another boost and bring us some new valuable contacts. In general, trade fairs are an important marketing tool for us. They are excellent platforms for us to explain our products to experts.”
Today, URSAPHARM offers products for the fields ophthalmology, general practice, allergy, ocular vitamins and nasal health. Ophthalmology is the mainstay of the business. Here, the preservative-free HYLO-COMOD® eye drops system is the best seller. “Preservatives, which are supposed to keep the eye drops free of germs during storage and application, in fact damage the cells of the ocular surface,” explains Mr. Röder.
“These substances destroy the natural tear film and might also cause intolerance reactions. Although already developed in the 1990s, our HYLO-COMOD® system is the only bottle which is approved for drugs and medical products. The patented multiple dose system prevents the contamination of the solution by microorganisms. In order to ensure the best quality of the eye drops themselves, we only use top-quality hyaluronic acid. The quality of the acid responds to the length of the molecules. Therefore, it has an excellent viscosity.”
Not only have the continuously rising sales figures proved the success of HYLO-COMOD®. The product was awarded Product of the Year by the National Pharmacists’ Association. Today, the HYLO family also comprises HYLO-CARE®, HYLOGEL ® and HYLO-PARIN®.
Of course, the products are available in different forms, such as drops or gel. The range of ophthalmological products is complemented by a wide range of eye care products, such as Siccaprotect®, PARIN-POS®, Posiformin®, Siccapos®, Sophtal®, Vasopos®, VITA-POS® and WETCOMOD ®.
“In Germany, we are the only producer of aseptic ointments anymore,” says Mr. Röder. “Our program still includes active agents. Altogether our ophthalmologic product range boasts over 70 different products, 50 of which are only available by prescription.”
Over the years, URSAPHARM has extended its product portfolio and moved into neighbouring fields. The hysan® family, for example, boasts a range of nasal healing products to fight rhinitis or a dry nose. Recently, the company also included dietary supplements into its product spectrum.
“People are becoming more and more conscious about their health and a healthy diet,” says Mr. Röder. “Our product Retaron, for example, contains aronia/black chokeberry extracts and significantly reduces free radicals.”
The roots of URSAPHARM date back to 1974 when four pharmacists founded a small firm focusing on eye care products. In 1975, the first own production plants were put into operation. “Our founders all had their own businesses,” says Mr. Röder. “They knew exactly what was needed.”
In the 1990s, URSAPHARM started to research into preservative-free eye care products. “In those years, it was regulated by law that eye drops had to contain preservative agents,” says Mr. Röder. “Thanks to our achievements, that law was extended to state that eye drops must contain preservative agents or be offered in a type of bottle enabling preservative-free dosing.”
Since URSAPHARM introduced its HYLO-COMOD® system, the company has been enjoying steady growth rates. Today, the company has a staff of 480, runs eight sales subsidiaries and achieves an annual turnover of around 90 million EUR, generated across the globe.
Targeting pharmacists and doctors, URSAPHARM has become a household name in the industry – an excellent position to move on and to realize further growth. “In Germany we are going to enhance the marketing and sale of Retaron,” says Mr. Röder. “Abroad, we see great potential in China, and we still have white spots in the South American markets. Here, it is extremely difficult to obtain market approval. Productwise we are working on new antiallergy products which are preservative free. Only recently, we made a major investment in a new ointment and filling plant. However, despite all growth plans, we will continue to be a family company with the typical values. We believe in social responsibility and support several charity projects as well as regional events. Social commitment will always stay part of our culture, too.”