UNITED Laboratories Inc., the country’s biggest pharmaceutical company, plans to expand its core business to Africa and Middle East.
“Our products are world-class and we plan to expand not only in Nigeria but also in other countries in Africa , Middle East,” Benedicto Caleda, Unilab vice-president for international market development, told reporters during a business matching with Nigeria businesses at the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) office in Taguig City.
“We already have a European Good Manufacturing Practice (European GMP) certificate meaning we make medicines that can be exported to Europe. And that’s the standard of Africa and Middle East so we can also bring our products there,” Caleda said.
“We’re proud that a Filipino-made medicine can be accepted in those countries,” he said.
Caleda said Unilab had sold some products in Nigeria before but these were mostly personal care products.
“But we want to bring it to a wider scale, including medicines for ordinary illnesses.
John Lloyd will be saying ‘Ingat!’ [Take care] to Africans. So, from headaches to medications requiring prescription,” Caleda said.
Unilab is studying if it is feasible to set up a factory in other countries, he explained.
“The timetable depends on whether is it in Nigeria or is it in South Africa, is it in
Dubai, is it in Saudi Arabia? Because we need to go where the consumption of medicine is very high, ” Caleda said.
“It took us about twenty years to make it in Southeast Asia and now we’re the largest. Hopefully we can cut that learning time down because we know already the formula for entering every market,” he said.
“We are also looking into the South Pacific: Papua New Guinea, and countries like Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago. Unilab has already exported products to Azerbaijan,” he added
Caleda said that pharmaceutical supply in Africa and Middle East are sourced from Europe and India. “That’s why they’re looking for middle ground companies that have quality of European standards at the same time the prices are also competitive,” Caleda said.
In Nigeria, Unilab is exploring the possibilities. “Nigeria is the biggest populated country in Africa. There are many similarities with Nigeria and the Philippines,” Caleda said.