BESIDES clothing, shelter and food, medicine these days must also be considered a basic commodity. However, many Filipinos still struggle to afford medicine, as its prices remain to be expensive.
The simplest solution to this concern is the more affordable and alternative generic medicine. However, Watson Philippines discovered that generic brands penetrate only 5 percent of the local market as compared to the 70 to 80 percent of more advanced countries like China and US.
To give Filipinos better access to generic medicine, Watsons Philippines launched the “Watsons Generics: Improving Lives of the Filipinos One Pill at a Time” campaign. It offers a wide array of medicines and supplements for the most common ailments, which are manufactured by trusted partners to ensure that all products are of high quality, safe and effective while maintaining its affordability.
For this advocacy, the company was the only Filipino recipient of the Health Promotion Category of the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA) by Enterprise Asia, a non-governmental organization that promotes entrepreneurial and sustainable development to uplift the economic status of people across Asia.
Labeled as the “Nobel Prize for Sustainability,” the AREA awards was held at Banyan Tree Hotel in Macau in June. From over 300 submissions and 28 countries, only 52 projects across Asia were chosen for the six categories namely Green Leadership Award, Investment in People Award, Social Empowerment Award, SME CSR Award, Responsible Business Leader Award, and Health Promotion Award.
To celebrate the recognition and more importantly reiterate its commitment, Watsons Philippines in July held a media luncheon at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
“Winning this award is not just a recognition of our efforts but also a challenge for us to further this advocacy in helping improve the health of Filipinos,” stated Viki Encarnacion,
Watsons Marketing Director. “It is a proof that what we are doing here in Watsons is going into the right direction.”
Acceptance of generics
In Southeast Asia, the Philippines is still catching up with neighboring countries like Malaysia and Thailand in the health category. Six out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor, and non-compliance to medicine prescriptions is highly prevalent.
Besides this, Filipinos also view generic medicines as mediocre product. They think that because it is generic, it will not work the same as with the branded ones.
“We are a country that is into brands. But now, Filipinos are starting to be aware. The acceptance of generics is getting stronger. It just a matter of telling which kind of generic has the best quality,” said Encarnacion.
With Watsons Generics, consumers can be assured of the quality of the products. Danilo Chong, Watsons trading health director, explained, “Our generic medicines are produced by trusted partners. All of these go through a rigorous screening process and a third party audit. These methods on top of Philippine regulatory agency standards assure consumers that they are purchasing high quality products.”
The result, Watsons Generics medicines have all passed the regulatory requirements of local and international quality assurance agencies. All products are registered with the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and are manufactured by facilities with certificates of Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP).
More importantly, Chong promised that their generics offer up to 80 percent savings as opposed to leading brands.
More than a beauty store
Today, what challenges Watsons Philippines is the fact that Watsons is already a known beauty store all over the country.
To penetrate and re-introduce themselves as a source of affordable yet high-quality generics, the company are set to open 50 new ones by the end of the year with provincial markets a top priority. Additionally, they want to push through opening stand-alone stores, the ones outside the malls.
“We are gradually going to the streets to provide basic medicines to lower segment of the market. They are the reason why we are pushing through this campaign,” Chong expressed.
Watsons is Asia’s leading health and beauty retailer, currently operating over 4,000 stores and more than 1,000 pharmacies. Globally, its advocacy is to provide accessible health and medical services to the poor just like Watsons in the Philippines.