Malaysia’s healthcare system was recently rated as the third best out of 24 countries in the American publication International Living’s 2014 Global Retirement Index. This is due in no small part to the pharmaceutical industry which is divided into two broad streams – home-grown companies that specialises on traditional medicine, food supplements, vitamins, generics and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs; and multinationals which brought in numerous globally tested and accepted quality drugs into the country. Both streams are regulated by the Ministry of Health’s Drug Control Authority (DCA) and together, they help eradicate potentially destructive diseases. New developments such as the production of high-value bio-generics and the potentially lucrative halal drugs market promise an exciting and bright future for this industry. Top 10 of Malaysia takes a look at its list of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the nation (presented in alphabetical order).
Antah Healthcare Group
Antah Healthcare has been in the healthcare business for more than 50 years and has brought in a wide range of top-notch pharmaceutical products and state-of-the-art cell and cancer treatments. Under the management of CEO Y. Bhg. Dato’ Ralph Yapp, the MS ISO9001:2008-certified group experienced an accelerated growth since 2002 when three separate healthcare companies (Antah Sri Radin Sdn Bhd, Antah Pharma Sdn Bhd and Bumimedic Sdn Bhd) merged under the Antah Healthcare Group. On their 50th year in April 2012, Antah Healthcare became the first organisation in the nation to set up an assembly plant to manufacture CKD medical equipment such as operating tables, medication trolleys, autoclaves and washer disinfectants, with CKD components sourced from the UK, Italy and Canada. These high quality products are distributed to local hospitals and clinics, as well as exported to Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.
Apex Healthcare Bhd
Apex Healthcare Bhd has come a long way since it was established in 1962 by KeeTah Peng in Melaka. It became Malaysia’s first pharmacy chain in 1966 when a second outlet opened in Kuching. Fast forward to the present day, its wholly-owned pharmaceutical distribution subsidiary, Apex Pharmacy Marketing Sdn Bhd which operates under the Apex Pharma name,has evolved into the largest wholesaler in the country, with vast experience in distribution, sales and marketing. Its expertise in penetrating new and existing markets is highly sought after by multinational principals looking to secure market access for their products. Apex Pharma’s extensive and efficient distribution is made possible by a strategic network of fully-equipped warehouses throughout the country which caters to a large variety of customers such as hospitals, private medical practitioners, hypermarkets, health-food stores, factories, government institutions and even estates. In 2005, Watsons acquired ownership of 20 Apex Pharmacy stores nationwide, signifying Apex Pharma’s exit from the retail business. It was a move made by CEO Dr. Kee Kirk Chin (the founder’s son) to fully focus on its two core activities, manufacturing and distribution, that have been and will continue to be the group’s engine of growth.
Bio-Pharmaceuticals Sdn Bhd
Bio-Pharmaceuticals Sdn Bhd was established in 1991 by CEO Albert Yesudian as a pharmaceutical supplier to medical institutions. From two popular dermatological brands, namely, Balance Elastin E Cream and Aqua Dermis, the company has extended its product base to include a range of phyto-pharmaceutical (plant-based) products from Germany and Korea in the areas of gastroenterology, nephrology, orthopaedic, urology and weight management. In 2012, the company was awarded the SME Brand Laureate Award as the Best Pharmaceutical Company – Manufacturing. Last year, the company formed a subsidiary called Diamagnetic Physio Centre Sdn Bhd to provide holistic healthcare treatments such as orthopaedic and rheumatic pain management as well as post-surgery rehabilitative therapy.
CCM Pharmaceuticals Sdn. Bhd.
CCM Pharmaceuticals has over 30 years of history and has won numerous local and regional awards for its outstanding brands and products. The CCM Pharmaceuticals division comprising CCM Duopharma Biotech Bhd, CCM Pharmaceuticals Sdn Bhd and Innovax Sdn Bhd, develops, manufactures and markets generic and branded consumer pharmaceutical products such as blockbuster drugs (Omesec and Vascor) and over 200 leading OTC brands (Champs, Eye Glo, Flavettes, Proviton, Uphamol, etc). In 1999, it became the first pharmaceutical company to achieve the halal certification, and its halal-certified products are distributed locally as well exported throughout ASEAN, Asia Pacific and other countries worldwide. Led by Group Managing Director Amirul Feisal, CCM has recently acquired an 11.6 % equity stake in a Korean biotechnology company, PanGen Biotech Inc., to make inroads into the biosimilars business.
In the 1940s, Hovid was birthed when Dr. Ho Kai Cheong created the Chinese Herbal Tea, Ho Yan Hor that has become popular today as a natural beverage to dispel body heat, cure indigestion and relieve common coughs and colds. From its humble beginnings of one core product, the company today produces over 400 products including generic drugs, dietary supplements and consumer products. Harnessing its strength in R&D and the export market, Hovid’s products are distributed to over 50 countries globally. Hovid is the first in the world to develop the commercial scale integrated process for extracting the Palm phytonutrients – carotenes (pro-vitamin A) and tocotrienols (vitamin E) – from locally harvested palm oil and convert them into natural health supplements. Hovid is also an approved supplier to UNICEF and UNRWA. With its facilities and practices conforming to the current Good Manufacturing Practice on the productions, including the halal-certified products, Hovid has evolved into an outstanding industry with excellent quality in both products and services under the leadership of Managing Director, David Ho.
Kotra Pharma (M) Sdn Bhd
Established in 1982 by Managing Director Jimmy Piong, Kotra Pharma is in the business of manufacturing over-the-counter health supplements such as Appeton and prescriptive medicines such as,Axceland Vaxcel. The company also markets gynaecological products such as Predicates Ovulation Test Kit and Thames Sperm Enhancer Kit. A fully-owned subsidiary of Kotra Industries Bhd. (KIB), it has 181 products which are registered with the National Pharmaceutical Control Board. To date, Kotra Pharma has invested USD60 million in the first phase of a total USD150 million investment towards an ultramodern manufacturing plant and research facility, with a new Sterile/Infusion Manufacturing line scheduled to complete this year. This makes it the largest single investment in the history of the Malaysian pharmaceutical industry. The company has won many accolades including the Frost and Sullivan’s Malaysian Pharmaceutical Company of the Year 2011 and the coveted Industry Excellence Award in 2012 by the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau, Ministry of Health Malaysia.
Pharma Niaga Berhad
Pharma Niaga started operations as Remedi Pharmaceuticals in 1994 in a move to privatise the Government Medical Store. Today, it is headquartered in Shah Alam, Selangor with offices, plants and distribution centres throughout Malaysia and also Indonesia. Helmed by Managing Director Dato’ Farshila Emran, the group’s recent acquisition of PT ErittaPharma, its first manufacturing plant in Indonesia, is a strategy to not only increase its presence in the international arena, but also to supplement the group’s existing Malaysian distribution arm. Pharma Niaga’s small volume injectable manufacturing plant received an international seal of approval by being European Union certified, which enables the group to garner manufacturing project contracts from the European region. In 2012, the company won the Malaysia’s Top 100 Leading Graduate Employers for the pharmaceutical sector by the Malaysian Graduate Barometer and last year, it launched the nation’s first community pharmacy called Royale Pharma in Shah Alam.
Ranbaxy Malaysia Sdn Bhd
A joint venture company of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd India, Ranbaxy Malaysia Sdn Bhd was established in 1984 as a trading company to import pharmaceutical and chemical products. Three years later, a manufacturing unit was built in Sungai Petani, Kedah and to date, it has evolved into a Good Manufacturing Practice compliant production plant serving as an international hub to supply goods to ASEAN and Middle East countries. Its strength lies in its R&D capability which leads to the launch of numerous drugs for treating chronic and acute diseases. Led by Managing Director T. Jeyabalan, Ranbaxy Malaysia constantly endeavours to offer high quality and safe yet affordable generics to the nation. In 2006, it was the first pharmaceutical company in Malaysia to launch economical generic alternatives such as Atorvastatin (a cholesterol-lowering medication) and Oseltamivir (an influenza treatment).
SG Global Biotech Sdn Bhd
Based in Klang, SG Global Biotech (also known as Hai-O Pharma) is the nation’s first Good Manufacturing Practice -certified traditional medicinal plant. Realising the growing demand of traditional Chinese medicine in Malaysia, Managing Director Tan Kai Hee and his partners founded the company in 1994. True to its core focus, the two main product categories are traditional pharmaceutical medicines and dietary supplements made from high quality raw herbs imported from China. The products are manufactured under the most stringent conditions using state-of-the-art facilities, and then registered and approved by the Health Ministry’s Drug Control Authority. SG Global Biotech also offers manufacturing services to those who want to develop their own house brand. Additionally, the Group established QIS Research Laboratory Sdn. Bhd., a subsidiary that is dedicated to the researching of microbial and chemical compounds of traditional medicine to enhance product innovation.
Y.S.P. Industries (M) Sdn Bhd
Yung Shin Pharmaceutical (Y.S.P.) Industries began as a small pharmaceutical distributor in 1987 and over the years, has grown into a research-oriented manufacturer and distributor of high quality pharmaceutical, over-the-counter, veterinary and aquatic products. Backed by a strong marketing network of medical professionals and a sales team of over 120 people, the company serves the needs of more than 10,000 customers comprising clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, veterinarians, farms and feed mills. Led by President and Group Managing Director Dato’ Dr. Lee Fang Hsin, a Taiwanese who resides in Malaysia for more than 30 years, the company has diversified into the traditional herbal remedies (TCH) business with Sun Ten Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd, a renowned Taiwanese manufacturer of herbal extracts. To date, the cash-rich company’s revenue comes from pharmaceutical products (70%), veterinary products (12%) and TCH (15%).