Juan Aguirre
Commercial Director
Grupo Buluart
View from the Top

Pushing Patented Medicines into the Impulse Chain

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 11:43

Q: How is Grupo Bruluart working to make patented medicines more widely available?

A: One of our biggest projects has been pushing lines of patented medicines into the impulse chain. Besides the old big distributors, there are several pharmacies, clinics and other retailers where patented drugs are sold. It was thought the most economically challenged social group would not buy patented medicines because of the high price but some prefer to acquire medicines at their local pharmacy.

Q: What were the advantages of being ready six months in advance before the change in NOM – 059 in 2016?

A: It helped us get ahead and minimize the effort needed to comply with the standards. Since we were ready, the number of topics we had to cover once the norm was approved was small so we did not have to dedicate many resources to it to comply. We also founded the Instituto de Farmanegocio, through which we provide an integral advisory service, guiding our clients step-by-step to meet COFEPRIS, SAT and other regulatory requirements. Some of our customers are taxed according to the small contributor regime. As a result, the taxes of those companies are sometimes in disarray and they fail to meet regulations. We have convinced and advised several customers to fix their fiscal situation so they can access various benefits and minimize the risk of not meeting fiscal and health regulations.

Q: To what extent do your products target specific niches?

A: We started selling generic drugs that target the general population, such as painkillers, multivitamins and antibiotics. Now we are specializing in the hormone niche, especially in contraception and hormonal care, because there is less competition and only a few can develop injectable contraceptives and hormone drugs. There is a learning curve with hormonal medicine so we have been focusing on these areas for around two years. It is difficult to come up with a market percentage but we manage three of the top 10 products in the public sector.

Q: COFEPRIS is liberating several packages of innovative medicines. How is that affecting Grupo Bruluart?

A: We are working on these liberated molecules. COFEPRIS has developed a useful strategy based on risk assessment and this patent liberation makes the register of new and generic products more efficient. We can now get generic drugs to market much faster and even expect to release between six and eight products this year from the packages of 2016 and 2017 in hormonal treatments, some in painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

These areas were chosen because we have noticed that painkillers and anti-inflammatories have undergone a similar process to that of antibiotics in the past. People have become accustomed to consuming them without a prescription, developing a higher tolerance to painkillers, so we expect the new molecules to have a more efficient effect.

Q: What are your ambitions and plans for 2017?

A: We have already expanded production at our plant, partly due to COFEPRIS’ regulations. We are complying with all these regulations and are ready to continue our growth in the manufacturing business through development of more products. We are looking for new international ventures for products we sell in large volumes, such as paracetamol or diclofenac, which in Mexico are largely sold as commodities and have a better margin elsewhere.

On the commercial side, Farmacias GI has a new image and an aggressive expansion plan that includes the launching of a new media campaign. In the distribution business, our goal is to train independent pharmacies. Many of these are important to rural communities and underdeveloped parts of the country. We are also expanding our business by visiting convenience stores and large national chain pharmacies to address a renewed interest in our products in sectors that traditionally were not attracted to generics but now cannot get enough of them.