Malaysia: The Overlooked Emerging Market - Pharmaceutical Executive


Malaysia: The Overlooked Emerging Market

Pharmaceutical Executive


Pang Tse-Ming, Managing Director, EP+
The generics space is a growing area of convergence between multinationals and local companies. Rather than accruing assets in a relatively small market, several multinationals are now opting to contract out manufacturing to local companies, and such opportunities abound thanks to Malaysia's strong GMP regulations based on their PIC/S membership. Malaysia's geographical position at the heart of Asia's emerging markets, as well as cheap labor and land costs, make the country a good prospect for outsourcing. Notable partnerships last year include: Sanofi-Aventis and Hovid Bhd; Biocon Ltd contracting to Malaysia's biotechnology park BioXcell; and Malaysian company Inno Bio Ventures contract manufacturing clinical-grade material for Indian company Avesthagen—Malaysia's first biotech manufacturing contract.

Within this picture, Pharmaniaga is one of the heavyweights of the local generics industry, producing 200 products for international companies seeking entry into the Malaysian market. Pharmaniaga has a 15-year relationship with Pfizer, and Roshidah Abdullah, CFO of Pharmaniaga, recognizes that "collaboration with multinationals helped to catapult the company into a different league compared to the other domestic players and was a key factor in our [Pharmaniaga's] differentiation."

Pharmaniaga is now looking to expand its generics arm to become a major focus for the company's long-term growth strategy. Malaysian companies have been a little sluggish in internationalizing their operations, but Pharmaniaga is at the forefront of a new wave seeking export-driven growth. Pharmaniaga's dossier exchange with multinationals and rebranding as a supergenerics company are essential to its expansion within the region. Roshidah explains that in Myanmar the company initially pursued the wrong strategy when it engaged in a price war with companies from Bangladesh and India. The company has changed tack and now intends to play on the brand consciousness of Southeast Asian nations to differentiate themselves. Its confident assurance is that "in the next five years you will see Pharmaniaga not just as a leader in Malaysia but assuming leadership positions in Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam," she says.


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