Luis Zerecero
Director General
Laboratorios Keton
View from the Top

Partnering With International Companies

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 09:46

Q: Can you give our readers a brief history of the company’s background?

A: Laboratorios Keton is a family-owned Mexican company that recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. We manufacture beta-lactam and oral cephalosporin antibiotics for major pharmaceutical companies running operations in Mexico. We represent foreign companies from Indian, Austrian, Italian, Colombian and Spanish origins looking to leave their mark on the country. To date, 80 percent of Laboratorios Keton’s profits derive from its subcontracting activities while the remaining 20 percent results from representing international enterprises.

Q: What does representing foreign companies entail?

A: Three years ago, a person could not import medicines to the country, forcing them to use the services of established pharmaceutical laboratories in Mexico. This is no longer true as companies can import drugs without previously registering in the country. This new market opening has resulted in large volumes of foreign medicines coming into the country, but companies continue to use our services, limiting their involvement in tariff and customs operations. Laboratorios Keton registers products under its brand once internal evaluations and certifications are held, further referencing them to its clients’ Mexican subsidiary for future commercialization under their independent branding.

Q: How have Laboratorios Keton sales grown over the past few years and what is the company’s market share?

A: In 2015, the company’s sales amounted to US$5 million. This year, our profit base is set at MX$50-60 million (US$3.4 million to US$4 million). Laboratorios Keton is substantially smaller than the companies it services, which can be seen in its profitability margins. Under these circumstances, covering the costs of setting up a manufacturing plant in Mexico is not a constraint but receiving authorization from headquarters can take up to five years. Keton has a well-established, state-of-the- art facility that falls in line with all regulatory practices, making us partners of choice in the country. For the time being, we are waiting for COFEPRIS recertification as our plant undergoes structural changes. Our equipment will be refurbished, which will triple our production capabilities, set at 600,000 tablets per day. In return, we will provide our clients with better services and response times while also improving the quality of our products.

Q: What are the biggest business opportunities for Laboratorios Keton’s manufacturing activities?

A: We have set the goal of expanding our production capabilities by 2020 or 2022. After a US$5 million investment we will establish a new pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. But COFEPRIS requirements in this regard are extremely strict, which we have to factor in advance.

Q: How has the pharmaceutical industry evolved through the years?

A: I have been part of the Mexican pharmaceutical industry for over 56 years and the changes it has undergone are dramatic. The evolution has been systemic always improving protocols and strengthening regulations. But the biggest shift began four years ago as major and significant changes recently came into force. Homogenizing a plant’s capabilities to international standards is one of the biggest problems companies face when applying for COFEPRIS certifications but it keeps the quality of Mexican products up to par.

Q: How is the rise in biosimilars and generics affecting Laboratorios Keton?

A: Even though it is helping our operations generics, will occupy 80 percent of the Mexican antibiotics market in the near future. As a result, major Big Pharma entities are acquiring generic manufacturing plants in Mexico. Laboratorios Keton has approximately 20 patented products, a considerable task in a market where most molecules and applications have been previously registered. This is especially true as we lack innovative technology that leads to new product types.