Issue Issue 1 2008
A patient approach from Gambro
Gambro is a global medical technology company and a leader in developing, manufacturing and supplying dialysis products, therapies and services for In-center Care and Self Care Hemodialysis, Peritoneal Dialysis, Renal Intensive Care and Hepatic Care.
For decades, Gambro has led the market in renal care development and has been first to market with many groundbreaking innovations. Gambro has more than 8000 employees, production facilities in 11 countries, sales subsidiaries in more than 40 and sales in more than 100 countries.
The company was founded in 1964, after Swedish industrialist, Holger Crafoord met an inventor by the name of Professor Nils Alwall. Holger was so impressed by an artificial kidney that Nils had designed that he decided to develop and market what he saw as a potentially life saving innovation. Development work quickly began in Lund, Sweden, with the production of single-use artificial kidneys and dialysis machines getting underway in 1967. Expansion followed with the first plant outside Sweden opening in the 1970s at a site in Hechingen, Germany. Its origins are still recognised by the business today. “The people who set up this company are the grandfathers of this area of medicine so we have been part of the development of dialysis therapy right from the very beginning,” says Gambro’s global marketing director, Mike Dooley.
One recent development is the projected release in selected markets of a new dialysis machine, the AK 96, during the spring of 2008. It has been described as a simple, safe and effective piece of haemodialysis equipment. “It is targeted towards anybody who wants to provide good quality haemodialysis as it provides total ease of use. It allows the staff to look after the patients rather than monitoring the equipment and is part of our commitment to delivering good patient outcomes and therapies with excellent economies for the clinics. These are the three legs that this machine will stand on; there has been a real effort from customers, suppliers and our R&D team to use all our knowledge and experience and put it into a consolidated package – the AK 96 is result of that,” Mike explains.
Gambro’s offerings are divided into five segments. The biggest is In-Centre Haemodialysis Care and is the collective term for all chronic extracorporeal dialysis therapies such as hemodialysis, hemodiafiltration and hemofiltration. It is used by approximately 88 per cent of the world’s chronic dialysis patients. Peritoneal Dialysis is another segment where the network of tiny blood vessels in the patient’s abdomen is used to filter the blood. Self Care Dialysis covers those patients who are able to take an active role in their own treatment, either at a centre or in their own home.
The fourth segment is Renal Intensive Care and here Gambro has been working with healthcare professionals from intensive care units for over 20 years to ensure the most effective, optimal and innovative blood purification therapies are developed. The research, manufacturing and supply for Hepatic Care, for those suffering acute liver failure, which requires a different treatment to kidney failure, accounts for the fifth segment of the company’s main activities.
Beyond the machines Gambro produces a range of disposable products such as fluids and filters that form the artificial kidneys and livers as well as ancillary instruments such as tubes and needles, which take the blood from the patients into the machine, removing toxins, and back again. “All the products are well renowned for their manufacturing quality and excellence and the therapeutic output,” Mike comments.
With such a vast array of medical equipment for a number of different therapies, continuous investment into R&D is crucial. “Our focus on innovation has allowed us to deliver cutting edge developments and to establish a position at the top end of the market,” Mike says. “We have R&D teams in every area of the company, whether that be for the monitors, solutions, bloodlines or filters. In short we have many people focusing on continuous improvements in various locations around the world. We are a leader in the industry that offers independent innovation to our customers; innovation is a huge part of our past and a massive part of our future and it requires a significant effort,” he explains.
It is an effort that Mike is quick to acknowledge, speaking of the company’s employees, he says: “We have multi-cultural teams that are spread throughout the company and they are vital to us. We utilise talent from all over the globe working as a team, which is one of our main strengths. Another is that we are able to latch onto openings and opportunities that would not be visible to the majority of people but can be exploited because we know what we are looking for. We are a team of well-qualified people with an entrepreneurial spirit.
“The utilisation of such talent will be critical in developing solutions for a problem that is worsening because of changing behaviour and diets. This will increase the burden on healthcare systems worldwide and require that we focus on making our products as innovative and economical as possible.”
The emphasis on making machines and equipment as easy to use as possible, leaving healthcare staff free to care for patients, is clear. It is, therefore, unsurprising that Gambro see itself as the company of choice for meeting the needs of dialysis providers who demand quality with improved operating efficiency. “One of the key reasons for this company’s success is the partnerships we have, we value the relationships we have and we are adding more everyday. On the supply side we have a huge number of faithful, loyal and co-operative partners. We have to work very closely with all these companies to obtain the highest quality,” Mike insists.
There is no reason why Gambro should not continue to be successful; the company has been renowned for sourcing the best talent in the industry to design and deliver complete solutions to dialysis clinics and intensive care units since it was formed by industry visionaries. In doing so, the lives of many have been improved and prolonged.
Products: Dialysis products, therapies and services
Employees: Over 8000