A Changing Strategy for a Changing WorldWed, 09/05/2018 - 11:28
Some may fear change, but others see it as an opportunity. Grupo Bruluart, a Mexican pharmaceutical company, has learned to respond and adapt to any market fluctuation to continue expanding its business, says Juan José Aguirre, Commercial Director of Grupo Bruluart. Aguirre explains that this flexibility is necessary not just for his company, but for any participant in the pharmaceutical market. “The pharmaceutical industry must continuously improve its processes, efficiency and quality.”
Grupo Bruluart specializes in the development, manufacture, distribution and commercialization of generics, food supplements and medical supplies. The group incorporates four companies: Brudifarma, Farmacias GI, Bruluagsa and IM Bruluart. “Supply and demand is cyclical as every two or three years new regulations require drug manufacturers to renew or update their infrastructure,” says Aguirre. He adds that these renewals can slow production, potentially leading to higher demand than supply. “Every six months we have to stop production to perform a comprehensive analysis and maintenance of every area of the plant. Both regulators and manufacturers must properly administer these renovations to prevent pauses in production."
Despite cyclical fluctuations, Grupo Bruluart is focused on growth. The company launched five products during the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018 as it reorganizes its portfolio. Aguirre explains that the group plans to finish 2018 with five more launches, including the antihistaminic desloratadine and combination drugs with ibuprofen and amantadine. “Our product portfolio is very broad, so we are reducing it by focusing on hormones, antihistaminics, multivitamins and respiratory medication. We also have strong pain management drugs, including ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac. Many companies are now prioritizing cardiovascular diseases but that market segment is becoming increasingly saturated. We decided to focus on other niches.” Grupo Bruluart had set itself a 10 percent growth goal in volume for 2018. However, Aguirre explains that the first quarter of 2018 was complex for the market. “We were hit by the short, dry and warm winter, which meant reduced sales of antibiotics.” The company is seeing a recovery during the second quarter.
Changes arise continuously, albeit many are of the subtle variety, which is where new technologies can help, says Aguirre. “We are collecting all information from the market and the next step will be to analyze it using Big Data techniques. We have been evolving this area at a fast pace. In 2016, we did not have a department for business intelligence, and now we have several people doing that.” Grupo Bruluart, continues Aguirre, is also investing in technology to improve its distribution processes. “We are working with our existing client base to link our system to theirs to make distribution more efficient. The use of technology allows us to minimize missing products and to detect accurate trends early. For instance, our technology allowed us to see how product stock diminished due to last year’s peak in conjunctivitis and to replace these products as soon as possible. There is still significant room for growth as these statistics are developed based on historic data of which we do not yet have enough.”
Incorporating these technologies and collecting information are ongoing processes but Aguirre expects the company to improve its logistics distribution, address supply gaps before they happen and react faster to unexpected phenomena, such as earthquakes and hurricanes. “During natural emergencies we have often noticed that we have stock of a product far away from the area where it is needed. We are certain that an appropriate use of technology will minimize these problems.”
The company had planned to expand to the US but the uncertain relationship between Mexico and its northern neighbor have put a pause on those plans. “We put an expansion into the US on standby and are now focusing on other markets in South America, including Colombia and Peru. We expect to be able to enter those two markets in 2019 with high-volume products that have lower profit margins but which are still higher than in Mexico. We are also focusing on the Mexican market as we had problems to fully supply it during 2017 and early 2018.”