Health Valley
Text: Bertrand Tappy

Martigny: Debiopharm Research and Manufacturing SA.

Local know-how, global network. For 35 years, Debiopharm has been developing drugs and licensing them out to large pharmaceutical firms.


Debiopharm Research and Manufacturing, a branch of the Lausanne-based Debiopharm group, notably produces

the prostate cancer drug Triptorelin. Together with another Debiopharm-developed drug, Oxaliplatin, Triptorelin has generated several billion dollars in revenue since launch.

“The world is our laboratory,” says Thierry Mauvernay, delegate of the board. “Where we are able to add value to a molecule, we develop it and then sell it to a large pharma group which can market it more effectively than ourselves.” It has to be said that developing a drug is a long and costly process, requiring an average 12.7 years and $4 billion, Thierry Mauvernay tells us.

The task of the Martigny site, then, is to “inject innovation” into complex products using chemistry and nanotechnologies able to solve the knotty problems of product solubility and harmfulness. The firm’s latest development is a drug that can be administered just once every six months, compared with an injection every month or three months previously.

The offices are still in the same premises that have housed the company since its inception 35 years ago, with a few extensions having been made to the production area and biochemistry lab, which is staffed by 45 researchers.

“Currently, twelve new molecules are under development for a hepatitis C treatment licensed to Novartis,” says Cédric Sager, CEO of Debiopharm Research & Manufacturing, managed independently of the Debiopharm Group and with a 130-strong workforce. “And we will soon be starting a clinical study at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) of with one of its most promising oncology molecules.” The company’s local know-how and global network is a perfect starting point for our journey. ⁄