Sanovel’s R&D success
Sanovel is in third place among Turkey’s local pharmaceutical companies. The company, which currently has about 1 billion Turkish Liras of turnover, was founded by pharmacist Erol Toksöz in 1983. Toksöz passed away last January at age 69, and now his two sons, Ahmet Toksöz and Zafer Toksöz, are leading Sanovel.
I met up with the Toksöz brothers, who are both chemical engineers, to talk about Sanovel’s new vision. During the meeting it was apparent that their vision is not limited to Sanovel only.
Sanovel bought Sagra, one of Turkey’s most famous chocolate brands, from Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) in 2007 for 77 million liras and entered the food sector. Sanovel’s biggest asset is its research & development investments.
The “Sanohaler” asthma apparatus, which the Toksöz brothers showed me during our conversation, is a first in Turkey. The apparatus, which was developed with almost 8 million asthma and KOAH patients in mind, is the product of a six-year study and 10 million euros in R&D investment. Its patent is registered both in Turkey and in Europe.
As soon as the apparatus became available for sale, demand from Europe began, Ahmet Toksöz said, adding that the company is ready to issue licenses to produce the apparatus if needed, as well as exporting it.
The stage the pharmaceutical sector in Turkey has reached is pleasing: It is not a dream any more to sell licenses to Europe.
Three medications that have emerged as a result of Sanovel’s 40 million euro investment in biotechnology, one of the most important technological fields today, are at the clinical research stage.
With small support from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), we should really be proud of the first Turkish pharmaceutical firm that has invested in biotechnology this way. Sanovel ranked 14th for applications to the European Patent Office in 2011, with 32. It is a true success.
I have already mentioned that the vision of the Toksöz brothers, who say “We want to make Sanovel an international brand,” is not limited only to developing Sanovel. By adapting their know-how about the medicine production process to food processing, they have introduced brand new tastes via Sagra.
Most recently, they have brought the ice cream brand L’Era Fresca to the market. This ice cream, developed together with Italians, is made from special milk produced in Thrace.
L’Era Fresca ice cream, is currently sold in a 10-store chain in Istanbul, and Ahmet Toksöz said the company would like to market it in Russia and the Persian Gulf countries as well. He added that the company targets further growth in the food sector in the coming years.
L’Era Fresca has emerged as a front runner in the $1 billion Turkish ice cream market in a very short time, and was selected as the fourth-best ice cream among Turkey’s top 10 ice cream brands. The fact that profit rates are dropping in the pharmaceutical sector may be playing a role in such strategic decisions, as the food sector becomes more attractive for non-food sector firms.