Conversation with Felice Volpe, Sr. Site Manager of the IBSA Group’s Lamone Cluster08 February 2022
Lamone, a small town north of Lugano (Canton Ticino, CH), is the hometown of the IBSA cluster dedicated to the production of gonadotropins and progesterone, i.e. the hormones used in Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP) procedures. In this interview Felice Volpe – who has been in charge of the Lamone cluster as Senior Site Manager since 2018 – will give us a nice overview of his work and the activities of the Lamone plant.
CAN YOU TELL US IN MORE DETAIL HOW HORMONE PRODUCTION TAKES PLACE, AND HOW IBSA STANDS OUT IN THE REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE AREA?
The MAP area has always represented a significant challenge for our Group. In particular, IBSA has patented exclusive extraction and purification processes, while building plants dedicated to the production of fertility hormones – gonadotropins – starting from the urine of pregnant and menopausal donors. The production process begins in China, with the collection of urine and the production of a semi-purified solid intermediate, called “raw”, which is then sent to IBSA’s Swiss headquarters. The thorough ultrapurification of gonadotropins is performed at the Biological Active Ingredients Department, in the Swiss plants in Cadempino and Lamone. At the end of this process, at the Lamone site, the purified hormones are sterile lyophilised in single-dose vials to obtain the finished product.
THIS IS WITH REGARD TO GONADOTROPINS. WHAT ABOUT PROGESTERONE?
Also for progesterone – whose processing once again takes place in the Lamone plant, in a sterile environment – IBSA has developed an innovative technology aimed at improving local tolerability and make progesterone water-soluble, and therefore administrable by subcutaneous injection. The entire range of fertility hormones is produced according to the highest standards of purity, efficacy and safety, combining state-of-the-art technologies with an exhaustive knowledge of the processes.
IBSA’S PILLARS ARE PERSON, INNOVATION, QUALITY AND RESPONSIBILITY. WHICH OF THESE DO YOU FEEL CLOSEST TO YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES?
We work to bring excellence to each of these areas; these are pillars that must necessarily be pursued together. In fact, I believe that each of the four pillars cannot be separated from the others: synergy is essential to give strength and value to our work. In my opinion, the “glue” between these pillars is represented by the human factor, which is essential for achieving the Group’s objectives. New technologies are very useful in ensuring safety and quality in what we do, but it’s the human factor that gives value to the entire process, and that has become critical in the redefinition of our business operations. Our task is precisely not to waste it, but rather to enhance it and develop all its potential.
IF YOU WERE TO GIVE A PIECE OF ADVICE TO YOURSELF 3 YEARS AGO, ON YOUR FIRST DAY OF WORK AT IBSA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Entering a new reality inevitably involves a period of adjustment, in which one has to absorb every stimulus received. Each new adventure should be faced with enthusiasm and the desire to get involved, by promptly understanding the interaction and collaboration dynamics with the other departments. It’s essential to immerse yourself immediately in the reality of your collaborators, and do so with humility and a desire to learn, treasuring what you have learned in your previous work experiences, in order to promote personal growth and be open to the contribution of others.
IBSA IS AN INCREASINGLY INTERNATIONAL COMPANY; HOW DOES THIS PROPENSITY FOR INTERNATIONALISATION IMPACT YOUR WORK?
The company is undergoing an enormous growth, and the internationalisation process is in full development. All this means being ready to seize new opportunities and being open to new challenges. Our department is being organised, with significant investments, to accompany this change by continuing to operate with the aim to meet the new markets’ requirements. The objective remains unchanged: maintain and – where possible – improve the high quality standards of our products, while ensuring full compliance with an ever-increasing demand.