Pharmaceutical companies normally make money when you’re sick. Here’s one that uses analytics and holistic healing to keep you healthy

Years ago, a young man named Victor Siaulys and his friends were kicking a soccer ball around a beach in Brazil, when one of them twisted his knee. As the knee began to swell, one of the men picked a handful of verbena leaves from bushes along the beach, wrapped them in a piece of cloth soaked in alcohol and created a makeshift bandage. Growing up near native fishing communities in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest where age old folk medicine is still practiced, he was familiar with the impressive antioxidant performance of this unassuming little herb.

Not long afterwards he and two friends decided to buy a small laboratory founded by Dr. Philipe Aché. Their dream was to produce drugs that would bring health and wellness to people, improving lives and fostering longevity with quality. Today, their company Aché is one of the largest pharmaceutical laboratories operating in Brazil.

From the beginning, the founders expressed their pride in being a national company by developing the best medicines for the health and needs of Brazilians. When the anti-inflammatory Acheflan was launched 39 years ago, it was the first fully developed phytomedicine in Brazil, using the extract of Cordia Verbenacea to treat chronic tendonitis and muscular pain.

“The Brazilian biodiversity law was passed in 2015 to protect this country’s incredibly diverse genetic heritage and the associated traditional knowledge of local communities,” explains Paulo Nigro, CEO at Aché. “The law seeks to facilitate private sector access to this heritage, such as traditional seeds or medicinal plants, for commercial purposes. At Aché we are deeply committed to the ethical conduct of our business. With the new law, we will be able to invest heavily in research and exploration together with local communities. After the commercial launch of a product, 1% of the net revenue will go to the communities to ensure sustainable handling of plants.”

It’s all connected

Aché started off as a traditional pharmaceutical company. What sets them apart is their early adoption of digital tools and platforms to run their business efficiently. Every penny saved is invested in research and innovation that benefits patients.  “We are keenly aware of the high cost of medication,” says Paulo.

Paulo believes that radical innovation begins with a clean slate. The challenge doesn’t end when a patient is diagnosed. The medication must be available where and when it is needed. Making sure the meds are always on the shelf in drugstores is one of the supply chain challenges Aché is solving by simplifying processes.

“We need to be efficient in a networked world, a real-time world without boundaries, says Sidinei Righini, Aché’s CIO.  “We are implementing S/4HANA , the digital core that enables simplification, but that’s only the first step in our digital transformation. Our long term goal is to take an end to end bimodal approach by running operations on SAP HANA and modelling new apps on the SAP Cloud Platform.”

Prevention through personalized data

People are living much longer lives than before. The question is: what quality of life will they have?

“Our vision is not treatment but prevention,” says Paulo. “We are collecting and analyzing data from our 6 million users to create programs for healthy lifestyles. We need to reach all stakeholders in a very complex ecosystem comprising doctors, hospitals, patients, manufacturers of wearables and devices, and researchers. With the help of analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, we can provide doctors with personalized data for preventive prescriptions that reward health not illness.”

Pharma with a purpose

According to Paulo Nigro, environmental catastrophes like the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster usually happen when systems are pushed to the limit. “Integrity and ethics are intrinsic to good business,” he says. “If I make a non-ethical decision, it puts the entire company at risk.”

Ache was the first company in the pharmaceutical sector in Brazil to invest in sustainable extraction from Brazilian biodiversity and to adopt ISO certification. The company has comprehensive programs for recycling or treating contaminated materials, waste, and water. And although Aché is a private company, they publish their financial results and are a pioneer in this space.

Business that generates and shares value with society inevitably leads to sustainable practices that improve people’s lives. Aché’s business begins with a purpose, and in this case, it’s even poetic:

We bring …
Relief to your pain, tranquility to your mind.
To the market, innovation,
To health professionals, information.
To customers, solutions,
To communities, inclusion,
To forests, trees.
And opportunities for employees ….

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