”Pharmaceutical industry is a definite growth business for Finland”
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen visited Bayer’s production plant in Turku and met the company’s management for North Europe and Finland. He was satisfied with the success of traditional pharmaceutical industry and the way in which Finnish expertise serves a large global player. Mr Katainen said that pharmaceutical industry is a growth business in Finland.
The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of basic research and the valuable health data collected in the country. They will offer a way to better health. He did not promise any new tax reliefs for attracting international investments which are needed in the biotechnology in particular.
“We have done what we can in terms of taxation, for example by lowering the corporate tax”, Mr Katainen summed up.
Export income from Mirena per year equals the price of a cruise liner
The size of Bayer’s production plant in Turku could be compared to a shopping centre. Its financial significance for both Bayer and the City of Turku is enormous. The sales of the plant’s bestseller product, intrauterine device Mirena, totalled 680 million euro last year. That accounted for half of Finland’s pharmaceutical exports. The value of Mirena’s annual sales equals the price of a reasonable sized cruise liner.
Mirena’s success is enduring by nature, and the sales are still increasing, although the product was launched already in 1990. The sales expanded from Finland first to the other Nordic countries, in 1997 elsewhere to Europe, and in 2001 to the US markets.
Bayer’s head office for North Europe is located in Espoo – instead of the more common Copenhagen or Stockholm. Depending on the method of compiling statistics, Bayer is the third or fourth biggest payer of corporate tax in Finland. In 2011, the company paid 84 million euro of corporate tax, a large share of which came to Turku. In national comparison, companies left behind included e.g. ABB, UPM-Kymmene and Wärtsilä. The trend can be expected to continue when the latest corporate tax figures are published on 1 November.
Specialisation pays – jobs for former Nokia employees
Bayer’s Turku plant focuses on polymer-based drug dosing technology. Mirena is also based on polymeric dosing technology, named Delvivo. The technology is very hard to manage, so it would be difficult to move the production elsewhere.
The production volume is increasing in Turku, and the plant has hired around 50 new employees this year. The total number of staff at Bayer Turku is around 650.
“It’s easy to find highly educated labour, but pharmacists and qualified chemists rarely seek employment in industry. The new training commenced at Åbo Akademi University is expected to help with that problem”, says Peter Essen, Head of Supply Center Turku.
Bayer has employed labour released from Nokia’s production in Salo. There they have also found sought after mechatronics experts.
A new product and expansion of markets
Contraceptive implant Jadelle was chosen as one of the tools for the UN’s family planning project for developing countries that started this year. That alone means an increase in the production volumes in Turku. In addition, Bayer’s new intrauterine device developed in Finland received a marketing authorisation in the United States earlier this year.
The new IUD is smaller than its predecessor and is also suited to young women who have not given birth. In the United States the product is named Skyla, and in Europe it will be marketed under the name Jaydess. Mirena’s little sister is also expected to be a success.
Text: Katja Wallenlind
Photo: Nora Uotila
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