Naples resident named leader in Big Pharma industry

Naples resident Doug Drysdale was recently honored as the top pharmaceutical leader and industry trendsetter by the editorial advisory board of Pharmaceutical Executive magazine.

The award is well noted as Drysdale, CEO of Alvogen, a 600-person pharmaceutical company, beat out industry behemoths such as Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer.

“Drysdale moved up the ranks at small startups but also places such as Forest Laboratories and DuPont Merck before eventually becoming CEO at Alvogen,” the magazine reported. “Drysdale recognizes that industry has changed and downsized since he began his career, with companies commonly doing more with less.”

Alvogen is a privately-owned company with more than 200 generic medications sold in 20 countries. The name Alvogen may be unfamiliar to patients; however it is a name that is becoming increasingly common with CVS, Walgreens and other wholesale distributors.

In an incredibly competitive industry Drysdale has guided Alvogen down a treacherous path assuming big risks with big benefits. The company develops only complex, high-tech generic products that are harder to manufacture and are often in limited supply. The majority of the difficult medication development and manufacturing is done in the Unites States. For the patient this translates into significant discounts at the drugstore for advanced medications such as a controlled release drugs – meaning fewer pills per day and transdermal patches.

Outside the U.S., Alvogen flashes its competitive edge by targeting only extreme emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Alvogen recently penetrated markets in Serbia, Romania and Hungary. Effective business in these countries is not as simple as putting on a suit and hopping on a plane. Drysdale makes such a radical business venture profitable by cleverly contending with language barriers, political tensions and cultural dynamics.

In many of these economically suppressed countries Drysdale’s role extends well beyond that of the normal businessperson in the U.S. He recently attended a conference in Bosnia as a panelist that analyzed the impact of corruption: “Corruption: a Cancer on Democracy and How to Combat It.” The conference was organized by the SAIS Center at Johns Hopkins University as well as the America-Bosnia Foundation and supported by Vice President Joe Biden. Corruption at all levels is one of the many hindrances facing Drysdale in Bosnia. Drysdale says, “In a 2010 U.N. study, the people of the West Balkans ranked corruption as the most important problem facing their countries after unemployment and poverty.”

Drysdale faces challenges in Bosnia that simply don’t exist in major markets. Conducting business in a country like Bosnia requires skills beyond that of the average CEO. Bosnia is an economically-challenged society with a power sharing, coalition government formed after the Dayton Peace Accord. The coalition government is made up of three separate groups, Bosniak, Croat and Serb who as little as 16 years ago were committing unimaginable atrocities. Working with these three groups is unavoidable and equivalent to asking the Hatfields to work with the McCoys.

Drysdale has been meeting with the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Dr. Lagumdzija, as well as representatives from the World Bank in Sarajevo regarding the acquisition of a Bosnian pharmaceutical company. The pharmaceutical company is currently owned by the Bosnian government, the World Bank and multiple other shareholders. The acquisition would represent a major socio-economic boon to the country.

“This would be the largest direct U.S. investment in Bosnia-Herzegovina, both the Bosnian government and the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo see that as a way to open Bosnia up to U.S and other foreign investors,” Drysdale said.

However the purchase requires approval from the Bosnian government, the World Bank, shareholders, the U.S. Advocacy Center, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. Unfortunately, there are no Google search results for “how to buy and license a Bosnian pharmaceutical company.” Drysdale must successfully take Alvogen down a road less traveled.

Managing a company headquartered in New Jersey with customers and manufacturing plants all over the world requires significant travel. To some, Naples may seem an odd choice as a travel hub. However, after multiple vacations in Naples there was no question for his family. Inspired by the quality of life and beauty of Naples, Drysdale moved his family from New Jersey, last year.

“I travel every week both domestically and internationally,” he said. “Having the airport only 30 minutes away is really convenient and I can get anywhere in the world from Fort Myers. I come home at the end of the week and for me it’s like taking a mini vacation every weekend.”

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