Cleiton de Castro Marques - CEO of BIOLAB

Forbes Magazine | 06/01/2019
"Until the mid-1980s, the pharmaceutical industry faced many difficulties. And we, still in the early stages of the business, suffered a lot".
Ask Cleiton de Castro Marques how long he has been working in the pharmaceutical market. Ask him why he has always been interested in this industry, one that he's been involved in for such a long time. Why? The CEO of Biolab explains why: "I was practically born into the pharmaceutical market. My father started working in this industry as a medical propagandist, it is where he built his career. He eventually became a laboratory owner. "

João Marques de Paulo, Cleiton's father, (and his leading example of life) struggled to reconcile the demands of his profession with his family duties. Cleiton also has four brothers. (Their mother died early). The profession obliged the family to move to different cities several times. Born in Belo Horizonte, Cleiton remembers the difficulties they experienced. "I never had the option of thinking about another career. The whole family worked together. Between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s, the pharmaceutical industry went through a tough period. And we, who were still with early-stage business, suffered."

Marques earned an Economics degree but said that academic education was not a priority. "We worked like crazy to pay the bills." But it was worth it. Today, Biolab includes three companies (Biolab Sanus, for prescription products, Biolab Generic, and Biolab Pharmaceutical, which specializes in product development, and is based in Canada), employs 3,100 employees and is responsible for 9,000 indirect jobs. In addition, it is investing BRL 450 million in the construction of a plant in Pouso Alegre (MG), which will be ready in 2021.

"The cycles in the pharmaceutical industry are very long. The short term usually lasts for three or four years. So we must always think about the country's development and technological development. It is a very dynamic sector. We are experiencing a moment of the incorporation of new technologies. Advances in biotechnology have revolutionized the treatment of various diseases, especially autoimmune diseases and gene therapies."
Innovation is one of the CEO's obsessions. "If we do not innovate, we become a commodity maker. That's why I value innovation in every way: from products to processes. We invest 10% of our revenue in RDI (Research Development and Innovation). "Marques says that Biolab has 20 ongoing clinical trials and almost 300 pending patents. "We do so much radical research, involving entirely new products, like incremental research, with new formulations."

According to the executive, one of the main challenges for the health sector, responsible for almost 20% of Brazil's GDP, is to deal with constant regulatory changes and high costs of developing new products. "Another issue is unemployment because the population ends up lacking access to medicines" Marques said. "I am delighted to launch a product, to feel that it is well received by the medical profession and know it will improve people's quality of life."
Although the focus is on Biolab's international expansion, he maintains confidence in Brazil and believes that the country has all the conditions to make the economic crisis a thing of the past. But lessons need to be learned so that mistakes are not repeated. "The crisis that we are experiencing now is the result of years of neglect. It will take time to correct the damage. But we are putting out fires, and there has been the greatest renewal of Congress in recent times. We have to have an increasing performance; we have to charge those who represent us."
The executive's professional routine, married for 42 years and the father of three children, is strenuous, but he does not give up exercising for at least an hour every day and being in touch with nature. He travels constantly with his family to cities like Paris, where he strives to discover new gastronomic delights and enjoy good wines. (TN)
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