Beginning a new chapter

“We are talking about an unexplored market”, Nicolae Voiculescu said last summer, shortly after he stepped down from Novartis only to lay the groundwork of a new pharma advisory firm together with Ion Nestor, partner at Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen (NNDKP). It was a business that later on attracted Dragos Dinu as shareholder, the former head of A&D Pharma, the country’s largest pharma group, and Alexandra Petrila, with Novartis.

Other executives started their own advisory firm and began working on their own. “I was considering opening my own business, given the fact that all my peers who joined the advisory industry, were already successful entrepreneurs. In fact, I think that I never had the time or the courage to devise my own start-up plan”, Dana Stanciulescu (photo) told Wall-Street in an interview. “I am always on the run, because for the moment, I am my sole employee. But I hope that as the business grows stronger, I will be able to create my own team of advisers”, she said.

Stanciulescu stepped down earlier this year from Teva Romania for Core Invest Consulting, her own start-up in advisory that became operational in May. “The first contracts were for business development services and advisory in the establishment of a local subsidiary of a newly-entered French company, said the former executive that hopes for €50-60,000 sales by year-end.

Dana Stanciulescu joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1993 as medical representative for GlaxoWellcome (current GlaxoSmithKline). She served as product manager, marketing manager, at Sindan (current Actavis) and country manager. Stanciulescu joined Teva in 2001 when the drug-maker’s local subsidiary was Valmedica. “My biggest achievement was that I managed to lift sales from €30.000 in 2001 to €14 mln in only eight years,”, the former head of Teva added.

Mission: crisis consultant

Over the last two years, advisory gained ground in almost all sectors, and consultants, especially the experienced ones are often called upon by businesspersons during the worst of times, and by media for their “juicy” comments and opinions. Once the financial crisis took hold that led companies to take measures to contain costs or that even sent them on the brink of demise, advisory went out of the spotlight, especially if the word “restructuring” was not on their job description.

Pharma advisory seems to be more privileged, according to insiders, and that is because the financial crisis had little impact on the market, as people still need medication even in recessionary times but also because it’s a new sector. Furthermore, there are many opportunities even in the market’s infancy.

The first steps were taken two years ago when two executives in local pharma industry, Roberto Musneci from GSK and Klaas Postema with Sicomed (current Zentiva) announced their resignation from the helm of the two companies, only to start their own advisory business. Robert Musneci said he didn’t regret pursuing this plan, saying "he is satisfied with the move he’d made”.

"I believe some of the reform measures taken in 2009 increased volumes although reduced average prices per unit and neutralized better the exchange rate movements that last year put in serious danger the viability of entire sectors of the industry. Also in other parts of the world the pharma industry is proving to be resilient and anti-cyclical. It is therefore not an easy year but overall the industry is performing well. I do not estimates on the pharma consulting industry because it is extremely fragmented: regulatory consulting, communication, business development, organization, crisis management, media analysis etc," said the former chief executive of GSK