Pharex Health Corporation: Over 20 years of affordable medicines for Filipinos

Over 20 years of affordable medicines for Filipinos
By Walter Ang
Oct. 5, 2009
Manila Bulletin

Access to generic medicines has given Filipinos a deeper involvement with healthcare. As evidence of growing awareness, acceptance and use of generic medicines, Filipino pharmaceutical company Pharex Health Corporation is already on its second decade of offering a wide range of unbranded medicines in the country.

The company has an advocacy program titled "Pharex Economix," which aims to provide Filipinos greater access to a wider range of premium quality, affordable medicines. Pharex prices its medicines anywhere from 50-70% lower than other brands, especially for high-risk maladies like hypertension, infections, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

According to Pharex president and CEO Tomas Marcelo Agana III, Pharex's simvastatin (a cholesterol lowering medicine) is only around P17 compared to branded labels that can cost up to P35. Its amlodipin (a blood-pressure lowering drug) is about P22 compared to as high as P68 for other brands.

Pharex is able to price its medicines in this manner because it does not pay expensive royalty fees for medicine formulations. It also has a system in place to monitor its expenses. "We shave off whatever we can here and there to save on operating expenses so we can maintain our low pricing," says Agana. "For example, we source materials globally, so that we can acquire high quality ingredients at the most competitive prices. All these efforts help decrease Pharex's overall expenditure."

"What we never do is sacrifice the quality of our medicines and the quality of our service," he says. "Our guiding light through the years has been our commitment to quality and innovative health care products and services, especially in the area of generic medicine, to both the public and the medical community. As we enter our third decade of operations, we promise to be more dedicated than ever to this goal and help Filipinos live a healthier life. We want to make sure that Filipinos have access to safe, high-quality and reasonably-priced drugs."

Pharex is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pascual Laboratories, Inc. and takes its name from the words "pharmaceutical excellence." It started off handling the marketing and distribution of Pascual's generic products, veterinary medicines, and medical supplies. In 1990, it expanded by concentrating on its "unibranded" product lines: generic medicines that are not branded separately, but all branded under the "Pharex" brand.

It currently has products across 16 therapeutic categories, ranging from anti-infective medicines (such as antibiotics) to chronic care medicines (such as medicines for hypertension, rheumatism, fever and body pain). It also has wellness medicines liken vitamin B-complex.

Pharex does not only have Filipino consumers in mind, it also aims to assist the medical community in providing healthcare. To this end, Pharex initiated "Pharex MED.I.C.S" (Pharex Medical Information and Communication Services), a service-oriented program that updates doctors with informative articles on the latest developments and issues in medicine. "Our program stands out versus similar programs because all the information we provide to doctors are focused on diseases and not focused on medicine products," says Agana.

Pharex also partners with medical societies and hospital departments in conducting medical and non-medical lectures, clinico-pathological conferences and roundtable discussions.