Pharmaceutical products: Bioiberica and Van Hessen

Bioiberica and Van Hessen both belong to the SARIA Group. It is not really a surprise, therefore, when we discover that both companies have already been working closely together for a long time in the area of valorization of animal-derived products for the pharmaceutical industry. Let’s Meat had a conversation with the two companies and learned why this collaboration is so valuable for both. Christian Stehmann, responsible for pharmaceutical raw materials with Van Hessen, and Víctor Vélez, Purchasing Director with Bioiberica, joined us to lift the veil on a highly successful collaboration that goes back to the 1990s.

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Van Hessen processes meat by-products and is a world leader in natural casings. Bioiberica is a global life-science company headquartered in Spain and specialized in the identification, extraction and development of animal-derived biomolecules, which are transformed into high quality products for the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, veterinary, feed and agricultural industries. All products of Bioiberica are animal-derived. In this way, the company contributes actively to a circular economy, obtaining valuable co-products from manufacturing processes. Bioiberica’s core business is heparin which is extracted from intestinal pig mucosa (i.e. the lining of natural casings). This is where we discover the link with Van Hessen!

“As we clean natural casings we also extract and collect mucosa,” Christian explains. “We ship it to Bioiberica where it is processed into heparin for medicinal purposes. Because of our close collaboration in this process we are able to add value to the final product. Together we watch over the processing of the product from beginning to end so as to maintain the highest quality. This is attractive for the customer.”

Víctor explains what happens on Bioiberica’s side of the fence: “We take the mucosa and extract the active pharmaceutical ingredient heparin from it. We are not the company, however, that does the final dosage form of the anticoagulant you get at the local pharmacy.” Bioiberica processes the mucosa preferably at the same location where it is harvested. “That is because mucosa is about 85% water and due to our environmental commitment, we prefer to reduce volumes and ship only the extract that contains the heparin. That’s why we’re located where Van Hessen is in North and South America as well as Europe.”

Van Hessen is an attractive partner for Bioiberica. “Nobody is able to match the quantity of our mucosa production,” explains Christian. “We are also responsible for all machinery in the gutrooms we operate. In fact, we make those machines ourselves. This way, we completely control both safety and especially quality. The latter is so important because in its original state mucosa is filled with bacteria. Mucosa basically starts to decay the moment an animal has been slaughtered. Our highly qualified employees know how to stop this process. That is hugely important for Bioiberica.”

“Our product is from biological origin and our processes are specially designed to minimize any possibility of biological risk. Besides that it is also very important that our suppliers also take good care of the raw material. With Van Hessen being a reliable partner, there’s no reason for concern. Additionally, since Van Hessen is a key player in the market, we have a constant supply of a wide range of animal-derived raw materials. Of course, mucosa is the most important one, but we also receive cartilage from Van Hessen and many other raw materials that are used in the pharmaceutical industry.” Both companies continue to expand their common infrastructure. By consolidating knowledge and developing new products, both companies expect to continue to grow.