At a Matins ESADE session hosted today by ESADE Alumni, Victor Grífols, president and CEO of the multinational pharmaceutical company Grifols, called on the Spanish government to change legislation in order to allow the industry to pay for plasma donations in Spain, "as is already allowed in the United States and some European countries, such as Germany and Austria". According to Mr. Grífols, payment for donations would serve as an incentive to help increase the blood reserves, while at the same helping donors and society at large by offering an additional economic resource. "If payment is allowed, Grifols could pay potential donors 60 to 70 euros per week, which, combined with unemployment benefits, would be enough to survive on", he said.
Mr. Grífols pointed out that the measure would also help create jobs and revive the Spanish economy: "Grifols has 147 plasma donation centres in the United States, where we are allowed to pay donors for plasma, and we could have the same number of centres in Spain, creating 5,000 to 6,000 jobs at a time when they are direly needed. We would also be paying out between 500 and 600 million euros to donors each year".
Mr. Grífols declared that the failure to legalise payment for donated blood in Spain and other European countries such as France, Italy and Sweden can be traced to "romantic" notions inherited from the Second World War. He added that volunteer-based blood donation campaigns are not, and never will be, sufficient to alleviate Spain’s plasma shortage.
"Abuse" of pharmaceutical companies
Mr. Grífols also warned that, if Spain continues what he called "the abuse of continually lowering prices" for pharmaceutical products, as has occurred in recent years, then "the pharmaceutical industry will not survive".
Mr. Grífols criticised the government’s policy of lowering of drug prices "by royal decree" over the last two years, noting that his company has sold some products at the same price for 17 years. He added that the administration, moreover, "has never paid on time".
A leading company
Turning his attention to the future of Grifols, which does over half of its business in the United States and Canada, Mr. Grífols observed that, after acquiring Talecris, the company must "think and act like a leader". To be a leader, Mr. Grífols said, "The key is to decide to be one, and to think less about the competition: stop copying them and instead get ahead of them". Mr. Grífols also urged both large and medium-sized companies to go public in order to "obtain funding from the capital markets rather than from banks".
Grifols is a global leader in the sale of intravenous immunoglobulin and alpha-1-antitrypsin for the treatment of pulmonary emphysema. In 2011, it had 1.795 billion euros in turnover and 50.3 million euros in profits, due to the cost of acquiring Talecris.
Víctor Grífols, President and CEO of Grifols, will feature this new session of Matins ESADE titled "Grifols today: historical development, internationalisation and milestones".
Chairs: Pedro Fontana (Lic&MBA 74), President of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees
Introduction and presentation: Rodrigo Rama (MBA 89 / DSIS 86), President of the ESADE Alumni Health and Pharma Club
Lecture: Víctor Grífols, President and CEO of Grifols
Discussion: Jordi Goula, Economics Editor at La Vanguardia
Closing: Pedro Fontana (Lic&MBA 74), President of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees
Víctor Grífols Roura
Víctor Grífols Roura was born in Barcelona in 1950. He studied Business Studies at the University of Barcelona. He joined Grifols as Director of Exports in 1973 and subsequently took over as the company's Sales Manager, promoting growth in the Spanish market in the eighties. He succeeded his father as CEO in 1985, directed the complete reorganisation of the Grifols holding in 1987. He also promoted the group's international expansion, which began in Portugal and Latin America, and which has culminated today with subsidiaries in 24 countries worldwide. In 2001, he took over from his father as President of the group and led a stage of corporate transactions, primarily in the US, which has placed Grifols as the world’s leading company in the supply of plasma and the third largest producer of blood products. His career has been acknowledged by the American Chamber of Commerce in Spain (AmChamSpain), and he was awarded the Global Business Leader Award in 2010, in addition to being nominated Business Leader of the Year by the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce in 2011.