Bio Stock 5 December, 2022
Iconovo has started building up the subsidiary Iconovo Pharma, which will sell and market pharmaceuticals in the Nordic region. Inhalation products are a natural focus area for Iconovo Pharma, but they may also consider including other products if both the product and business model are attractive. The portfolio will consist of in-licensed, complex generic products and proprietary inhalation products. The first proprietary product in the portfolio is expected to be a generic equivalent of AstraZeneca’s blockbuster Symbicort Turbuhaler. BioStock contacted Fredrik Radencrantz, Director Business Development, to find out more about the plans for Iconovo Pharma.

Iconovo is a Lund-based company that develops complete inhalation products, i.e., inhalers and drug formulations. The company has three business areas – the development of novel pharmaceuticals, generic pharmaceuticals, and in-house sales in the Nordic region through its subsidiary Iconovo Pharma.

Iconovo is currently working on building up an organisation of a handful of people who will be responsible for the Nordic marketing in the subsidiary. With its 27 million inhabitants, the Nordic region is a large market where, for example, Symbicort and its generic version are sold for around 800 MSEK annually. Iconovo wants to give the Nordic market access to its proprietary products while simultaneously providing the market with other generic products with high potential.

Generic equivalent of Symbicort in focus

The first proprietary product launch via Iconovo Pharma is expected to be ICOres budesonide/formoterol, a generic equivalent of AstraZeneca‘s blockbuster Symbicort Turbuhaler, for the treatment of asthma and COPD. So far this year, sales of Symbicort have amounted to over 1.9 billion USD, according to AstraZeneca’s latest interim report.

AstraZeneca’s patent for the combination of budesonide and formoterol expired several years ago. In addition, Iconovo’s inhaler ICOres is based on a novel technology that does not infringe on the original manufacturer’s patents.

The development of ICOres budesonide/formoterol is carried out in collaboration with the American generic company Amneal. Last year, Iconovo acquired the license to sell Amneal’s generic versions of Symbicort in the Nordic region, which was the starting point for Iconovo Pharma.

Iconovo Pharma – an important contributor to the financial targets

After seeing a positive development in the collaboration projects, Iconovo updated its financial targets earlier this year. The company expects to reach sales of 250 MSEK by 2027, of which a third is expected to come from Iconovo Pharma.

Read more about the financial targets in BioStock’s article. In the interview, CEO Johan Wäborg mentions that they are currently setting up systems to be able to conduct pharmaceutical sales in the Nordic region, such as quality systems for drug distribution, side effect reporting systems and wholesale distribution authorisation. The goal is to establish the systems needed so that the company is ready for drug sales in 2024.

Interview with the Director of Business Development, Iconovo Pharma

Fredrik Radencrantz, Director Business Development, Iconovo
To find out more about Iconovo’s investment in pharmaceutical sales in the Nordic region, we contacted Fredrik Radencrantz, Director Business Development at Iconovo since June 2022.

Fredrik, could you tell us a little about your background and why Iconovo attracted you?

– Iconovo has innovative products, high competence, wonderful colleagues, and exciting growth potential. And then I get to work full time with what I enjoy the most – meeting customers, working with sales and business development. I have previously worked as CEO at a small research and development company in medtech. After 5 years as CEO, I wanted to work more with business development and sales at a smaller company in pharma/medtech.

»Iconovo has innovative products, high competence, wonderful colleagues, and exciting growth potential«

You are now in full swing with the establishment of the subsidiary Iconovo Pharma. Why do you think in-house pharmaceutical sales in the Nordic market is a winning concept?

– Through Iconovo Pharma, we get the opportunity to be close to the market in a completely different way than now. The Nordic region is a complex market with several different systems for the procurement of generics. It is therefore not obvious for international companies to prioritize the Nordic region. We want to ensure that our home market gets access to the drugs Iconovo has been involved in developing.

– With Iconovo Pharma, we can optimize sales of our proprietary product; ICOres budesonide/formoterol. It is a combination of a bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). With this as a basis, we intend to build up a product portfolio that provides economies of scale, positive cash flow and increased sales in an independent company with a separate organisation that focuses on the Nordic region, while Iconovo Pharma benefits from the parent company’s established staff functions and broad expertise in inhalation drugs.

– Iconovo Pharma’s direct contact with the markets provides invaluable knowledge and experience that will benefit the parent company in our continued product development – and finally also our customers in a global market.

Could you briefly describe how you will establish Iconovo Pharma in the Nordic pharmaceutical market?

– The Nordic region already has established and well-developed systems for generics, which facilitates the establishment of Iconovo Pharma. This has resulted in a high proportion of generics in the Nordic market, compared to many other markets. In Denmark and Norway, the majority of generic sales are controlled through established quotation procedures that can span over several months and in some cases 1-2 years. Sweden and Finland are more similar and are not governed by the same quotation procedure. After all, the Nordic region is fairly homogeneous. The Nordic markets promote generic products instead of original products, for reasons of cost savings.

»The Nordic region already has established and well-developed systems for generics, which facilitates the establishment of Iconovo Pharma«

How is the build-up of Iconovo Pharma going and what is your role in the project?

– Strict regulations must be followed when establishing Iconovo Pharma. It takes time to obtain permits for wholesale and distribution of pharmaceuticals for human use, to get the organisation and all documentation in place, to obtain authorisation for licensed products and to solve the practicalities of, for example, logistics, warehousing, and deliveries through agreements with selected partners.

– At the time of writing, we hire external consultants to handle permits and registration of pharmaceuticals in each market. It is the most cost-effective and practical alternative before the dedicated organisation is in place. I have a small, but important, role in the big picture. I engage in dialogue with the generic companies, review their product portfolios and analyse which products have potential in the Nordic market. At the end of the day, it is Iconovo’s board and management team that decide which products we should include. They have extensive experience in sales in the Nordic region and are careful that the selected products fit our profile, have attractive sales potential, and bring generic products to the market that “make a difference”.

»At the end of the day, it is Iconovo’s board and management team that decide which products we should include. They have extensive experience in sales in the Nordic region«

What will Iconovo Pharma’s product portfolio look like?

– Over the next few years, the product portfolio will be built up of complex generic products with high potential. Our ICOres budesonide/formoterol, Symbicort’s generic equivalent for asthma and COPD treatment, will be Iconovo Pharma’s flagship and form the basis of the product portfolio.

Which products in your development portfolio do you have sales rights for in the Nordic region?

– Unfortunately, we cannot disclose exactly which products we have negotiated sales rights for. We are in dialogue with several generic companies and carefully select pharmaceutical products that add value both for us and for the end user. We will likely include drugs used for the treatment of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and Nordic pharmaceutical sales(PAH), but we might also include drugs for other indications provided they meet our requirements for long-term growth potential and financial return.

Finally, what are the main advantages, but also the challenges, in the establishment of Iconovo Pharma in the Nordic market?

– One challenge is that we start from “zero” and must both convince generic companies that we are an extremely suitable partner in the Nordic region, as well as build a business from scratch. There are certain generic drugs that we would have liked to have included in our portfolio, but where the rights are in the hands of another player. After all, we will have access to proprietary products as well, which makes us less vulnerable than pure generic companies.

»We get the opportunity to optimize sales of our products in our “home market”, while at the same time we can establish an attractive product portfolio with hand-picked products from generic companies that suit Iconovo Pharma and the Nordic market«