Andreas Fibig - Bayer HealthCare

Emerging markets vet leads charge for German drug giant

Name: Andreas Fibig
Title: Head of pharmaceuticals, Bayer HealthCare

Most of the exciting growth in the pharma industry is happening in bustling economies of Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. And Andreas Fibig, Bayer's pharma chief, has been a key player in one of the most impressive emerging-market pushes from the West. 

Fibig doesn't have far to look to see how the growth scales in the drug industry have tipped away from his home base in Europe. In Germany, where Fibig is based, price limits on pharma products have become a notorious thorn in the sides of drugmakers, acting along with the stagnant economy to slow growth in Europe.

Aware of sluggish growth in Europe and North America, Fibig has directed his pharma division to seek expansion in emerging markets such as Russia, China and Brazil. Bayer HealthCare boasts some of the best numbers in the industry in such growth areas, with sales growth of 10% or more during 2011 in emerging territories, which accounted for 32% of its total sales of €17.2 billion ($23.3 billion).

Most pharma execs in Europe wish they had the emerging markets background Fibig has. He took the helm of Bayer's pharma unit in September 2008 by way of Pfizer ($PFE), where he had been president of the U.S. drug giant's operations in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. This job followed his earlier role as head of Boehringer Ingelheim's business in key South American countries and an earlier stint with Schering as a coordinator for marketing and sales in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

Fibig brought his expertise in emerging markets to Bayer at a pivotal time for the Germany-based chemical giant's pharma business. The financial meltdown hit hard in 2008 and prompted payers in the West to tighten controls on drug pricing and reimbursements.

As expected, Bayer Healthcare's sales (including animal health, consumer and medical products as well as pharma) were flat in Europe and dipped 6.6% in North America in 2011, when revenue rallied up 11.8% in the Asia/Pacific region and increased 6.7% across Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. In the third quarter of 2012, China sales jumped 27.5% for the healthcare group. That's explosive growth for the pharma industry.

Unlike some of the elite pharma chiefs only lately waltzing into China and other hot growth areas for the industry, Fibig, whose experience in Asia began decades ago, stands as one of the most powerful people in the business. And that carries a lot of weight in an industry obsessed with making inroads in developing markets.

Fibig didn't rest on his laurels in recent years. Seeking expansion in the growing Russian market, Bayer struck a manufacturing and commercial deal with local drugmaker Medsintez announced in November. In 2011 Bayer lined up a partnership with Trius Therapeutics, gaining rights to the San Diego biotech's lead antibiotic in markets such as China and Latin America.

Bayer has also gone lengths to train healthcare staffers in China, a strategy that appears to be paying off. And it's not surprising to see Sanofi ($SNY) take a similar course of action in the hot market.

-- Ryan McBride (email | Twitter)

Andreas Fibig - Bayer HealthCare