Suresh Pattathil, MD & GM, Allergan AbbVie updates Express Pharma on the operational and cultural integration of Allergan into AbbVie in a virtual environment on a global basis midst a pandemic, the merged entity’s focus in India and how continuous patient education and awareness resulted in steady resumption of treatment and surgeries in eye care
AbbVie completed the acquisition of Allergan in May 2020. What were/are the market trends driving such an acquisition?
The acquisition has enabled AbbVie to become a well-diversified leader in many important therapeutic categories, with both on-market and pipeline assets. The combined financial strength will allow us to continue to invest in innovative science and to serve unmet medical needs of patients that rely upon us. Together, we will innovate for tomorrow, while making a remarkable impact for millions today.
How does this integration play out for the combined entity in India, in terms of market share, therapeutic areas etc?
The integration process began in May 2020, and it will take us two years to fully complete the process. Currently, Allergan has an important presence in ophthalmology and specific segments of neuroscience and aesthetic treatment in India.
You joined the company in April 2020, just after the national lockdown was put into place. Has it been more challenging to get on board and effect this integration during a lockdown with almost everyone working remotely etc?
I was initially concerned about joining a new company in a lockdown situation and interacting virtually, however, I must say the virtual medium has been very effective and disciplined to drive the creation of a strong leadership team and communicate often and transparently to the employees in a very uncertain environment.
COVID-19 tested us all on our readiness to change, our staying power and our capacity for finding sustainable business and marketing solutions.
The formal acquisition of Allergan by AbbVie happened in the middle of May 2020 and the global leadership team did a wonderful job to make it happen in a virtual environment on a global basis. I have been through multiple integrations in my lifetime – almost seven. One of the good things done in this merger was the culture integration through a culture week internal event, which happened in July 2020. This enabled an onboarding of the employees on the AbbVie culture and the Ways We Work, creating a common culture within the new integrated company.
The merger went through successfully and Allergan in India is an AbbVie company, and we are on track to complete the process as scheduled.
How has the company weathered the COVID-19 lockdown in India?
The pandemic pushed us into making decisions that were smart, timely and benefited our key stakeholders: employees, doctors and the patients we serve. Digitisation broke down the geographic barriers and I am proud to say that all through the COVID-19 turmoil, we did not lose our operational energy.
We encouraged employees to engage digitally with healthcare professionals and colleagues. We even organised several external webcasts, webinars and programs that allowed over 5000 ophthalmologists from India to participate, interact with and learn from experts around the world. In fact, some doctors agreed that this format was very conducive to purposeful interactions. These digital initiatives enabled us to shape