Global partnerships help Orion to grow and develop

Orion’s cooperation with other top experts in the pharmaceutical sector helps the company to expand its product selection and reach the global market.

“Partnerships are part of Orion’s strategy,” says Jukka Muhonen, Director, Global Business Development and Alliance Management at Orion.

Orion enters into partnership agreements on a case-by-case basis, based on careful consideration.

“Through successful partnerships, we can reach more markets than otherwise, as well as expand our product selection and further develop our operations. The idea is that instead of doing everything ourselves, we can focus on our core competencies. Partners may have resources readily available for certain matters, and they are able to operate more quickly and cost-effectively than we can in some fields.”

Orion creates partnerships with top experts in the pharmaceutical industry. “We always assess the quality of companies’ services and products very carefully, as well as sustainability aspects, for example.”

A long history of partnerships

Orion has engaged in partnership and licensing cooperation for decades.

“We have very well-established operating models for selecting partners. The pharmaceutical market and customers’ needs are changing, and we are monitoring trends in certain technologies, as well as what we need now and what we will need in the future.”

There are different levels of partnership:

“At the bottom of the pyramid are a large group of suppliers of materials and services with shorter delivery contracts or cooperation agreements., In this group there are typically several options. On the next level are longer-term cooperation arrangements with companies that have special expertise in specific fields. In addition to the longer-term collaboration, these relationships often involve sharing costs, risks and benefits, as well as joint development and innovation. The top of the pyramid consists of partnership agreements that have been deemed to be strategic in terms of the future development of the whole Group.”

Examples of current cooperation include Orion’s partnership with Bayer with regard to darolutamide, a prostate cancer drug developed jointly by the two companies. Orion’s cooperation with Novartis has lasted for more than 20 years, and has centered around Orion’s drugs for Parkinson’s disease. The Novartis partnership, however, is nearing the end of its life cycle.

Orion is a preferred partner

Partnerships work both ways, and Orion has a great deal to offer.

“Through partnerships, we have sought support for our products to enter the US or Asian markets, for example. In turn, we can offer help and expertise to companies that do not have a foothold in Europe. We have extensive networks in place and strong local expertise.”

In its strong sectors, Orion has special know-how and technologies related to the development and production of drugs. This is attracting international interest.

“We are internationally known for our expertise in neurology, such as Parkinson’s disease, and for our critical care products, the high level of our cancer research and our dry powder inhalers. We also excel at certain production technologies that require special capabilities. Hormone gels are a good example of this. We have the kind of gel production equipment and expertise that not many have.”

Orion also serves as a contract manufacturer for other pharmaceutical companies, and its subsidiary Fermion produces active pharmaceutical ingredients for Orion and other pharma companies.

Sufficiently large and agile

Jukka Muhonen says that the competition for good partners is intense in the pharmaceutical sector.

“Orion has fared well in this competition. We are known for our good quality and reliability in particular.”

According to Muhonen, Orion’s strengths also include its sufficiently large size, and the fact that it has all the operations required from a pharmaceutical company. At same time, it is sufficiently agile and flexible when necessary.

“We can respond very well to unexpected spikes in demand and additional orders, for example.”

Sensible risk diversification

Orion has developed many proprietary medicines through its own research and development operations. Partnerships, licensing and product acquisitions have helped the company to further expand its product portfolio.

“Through sensibly built partnerships, we can make progress in more areas than we could on our own.”

This also helps the company to diversify its risks effectively.

“When we operate in an optimal number ofsegments, we are not too dependent on an individual investment or too exposed to changes in an individual market.”

Learning opportunities

Jukka Muhonen emphasises that partnerships also provide Orion with opportunities to develop, learn and innovate.

“The results are usually good when the expertise and experience of two or more organisations are combined.”


 Text: Matti Välimäki

June 1, 2021