Tillotts Pharma UK embracing partnerships

Jeremy Thorpe: Tillotts Pharma embracing partnerships

Jeremy Thorpe is Managing Director of Tillotts Pharma UK Ltd. In his seven years at the helm, he has seen continuous double-digit growth and prides himself on embracing partnerships, nurturing talent and setting crazy goals.

What’s your background?

I started in pharma in December 1988. My first job was as a trainee medical representative with Servier Laboratories. Since then I have worked for big and small pharma, but I prefer smaller pharma where I can be involved in a breadth of challenges and products. For example, this morning, I’ve been looking at stock management to make sure our Brexit stockpile is adequate. Yesterday, I was working on materials approval and met with the sales managers.

What’s Tillotts’ history?

Tillotts Pharma (Tillotts) can trace its roots back to a pharmacy in London in the early 1960s. As a pharmaceutical company, Tillotts left the UK in the 80s through acquisitions and re-emerged as a Swiss manufacturing company focusing on the gastrointestinal (GI) market, specifically on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In 2009, Tillotts was acquired by the Japanese company Zeria Pharmaceutical Co., but didn’t have a presence in the UK market. That started to change and in 2010, Tillotts Pharma UK was set up. In 2012, I joined as General Manager and took the company from a virtual one with no presence in the market to a fully operational pharmaceutical company.

We started with three employees including me and have gone from three people and no sales to 40 people, and this year we are confident that we will exceed £25 million in sales revenue.

What are your areas of focus?

We are a speciality pharmaceutical company working within GI health. We are passionate about GI health. That is one of the essential criteria when we’re recruiting, we look for people with a genuine passion for what they do. We have market-leading products and will be launching a new version of our mesalazine tablet at the end of this year.

How has the business grown under your management?

I’m very proud that we’ve had seven consecutive years of double-digit growth and I am very confident that’s going to continue with the launch of new products from the head office pipeline and through selective acquisitions.

What are Tillotts’ headline achievements?

By positioning our products at the right price, we’ve managed to save the NHS in excess of £30 million. We’re very proud of this.

However, many of our headline achievements have nothing to do with our products. We have invested in developing award-winning training courses, LOGIC Education, to support IBD nurses. The courses are developed in conjunction with IBD nurses and are run monthly and annually, as well as the Richard Driscoll Awards for IBD Nurse Excellence.

In 2020, we will be running 20 regional LOGIC IBD nurse education modules. These are small group training programmes run over a weekend. One of our most popular education modules is on how to run a patient telephone service so patients can maintain their condition in the community, avoiding hospital admission.

Pharma shouldn’t be just about providing products. We should support the use of our products with appropriate services to ultimately benefit the patient.

We also connect hospital clinicians and GPs to put faces to names, and to educate and expand GPs’ IBD knowledge. This has been very successful, particularly with Sophie and Angela, our representatives in Northern Ireland. As the vast majority of our patients are managed in primary care, helping to educate GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists means we can add value, making us partners in the care delivery.

What do you look for in talent?

Our workforce has diverse backgrounds, but we always look for passion, enthusiasm, determination and a strength of character. We also have a strong graduate trainee programme.

One of the critical success factors for my regional account managers is when they are described by our customers as being part of their team. Katherine, one of our graduate trainees, has been described by two separate gastroenterologists as ‘a member of their team’ and ‘a fantastic resource’ that they can call on whenever they need support and help.

All graduate trainees also receive a development plan to expose them to different areas of the business. Margot joined as a marketing associate to train to be a brand manager, but after a secondment in the field she enjoyed it so much she moved across to be a regional account manager.

What does working for Tillotts mean?

We reward success. For our field force, we have a very progressive bonus structure, bonus for short term objectives and long-term strategies. More than 70% of our business is female, and I’m sure our success and drive are down to our talented workforce. In order to retain our talent, we are flexible, staff can manage their holidays so that e.g. they don’t have to work in August, reducing the need for childcare. We also offer flexibility in return-to-work after maternity leave, allowing people to build up their hours as they wish.

What does success look like?

We have a crazy goal: to be the preferred partner in GI health and have a market leading portfolio and reputation. Everything we do should work towards this. Achieving this will mean success.

Tell us about your connection with the Pf Awards

We are participating in the Pf Awards 2020 because we have a passionate belief that to improve and succeed, everybody has to challenge themselves every day. But there’s no point just challenging yourself, you’ve also got to challenge your colleagues and others in industry. The Pf Awards recognise quality and success, not only sales success, but success in building relationships, in account management for newcomers and experienced industry professionals. We wholly support and endorse the Pf Awards as a way of increasing standards in our industry. And thank Pf for being part of the process that enhances and increases standards across the whole industry.

Pf Awards also allows the industry the opportunity to hear from, and talk to, people from other companies. This is very important, enabling people to get to know more about the industry. Pf plays a critical role in this and along with Pf Magazine gives a broader perspective of the industry.