Creating a pharmaceutical company without capital

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Chairman and Managing director, HRA Pharma

Seminar Management of Innovation | Wednesday December 10, 2003

HRA Pharma, which was founded by two former directors of Roussel-Uclaf, developed over a period of eighteen months the 'morning after' pill. Today this pill is distributed in fifty countries. In spite of the fact that its founders were not able to find an investor who was ready to lend the sum of one million Euros necessary to start the company, it grew very quickly, (nearly eleven million Euros in 2003 for a product whose sale was authorised only in 1999 in France and in 2000 in Europe) given that it is a product which was in the public domain. Today, HRA Pharma is developing new products, still in relation to women's health and reproductive function, and it outsources the production abroad, as well as the sales network and distribution in France. This choice allows HRA Pharma to minimise its needs in terms of capital, but also demands a savoir-faire and a large network. Fortunately, the company can depend on the dispersion of former Roussel-Uclaf employees and also on a network of NGOs and rich American foundations which has grown thanks to HRA Pharma's programme to help developing countries.

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This session was published in issue n°48 of the Journal de l'École de Paris du management, entitled Dépaysements.

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