Quimfa, part of a group controlling 70% of the pharmaceutical distribution market in Paraguay, started manufacturing in 2014. Its plant is now one of the most important in South America.
Interview with Oscar Harrison, President — Quimfa S.A
Leading Edge (LE): What’s your assessment of the pharmaceutical sector in Paraguay?
Oscar Harrison (OH): I estimate that the private market accounts for USD 250 million, with another 250 million in the public market, so the total pharmaceutical market would be USD 500 million. The public market has grown tremendously: the state is starting to make much more significant purchases.
LE: Which investments have contributed towards Quimfa’s development?
OH: We invested USD 30 million USD in our manufacturing plant and we continue to invest in new, more modern equipment to ensure constant renewal. We have an investment of USD 2.5 million planned for equipment.
LE: What are your flagship products?
OH: There are many. We manufacture over 500 products in total. We have anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, painkillers and so on.
“The total pharmaceutical market would be USD 500 million. The public market has grown tremendously: the state is starting to make much more significant purchases.”
LE: How do you work with the public sector? What is your opinion of the Social Security Institute (IPS)?
OH: Private companies work with public tenders. Both the Ministry of Health and the Social Security Institute have opened new hospitals, which has increased consumption. This makes tenders even more important. There is no private insurance that can compare to IPS insurance. Private insurance plans cover the majority of health issues, but not the most expensive services.
LE: What are the main markets for Quimfa? Do you have any international collaborations?
OH: Both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Industry and Trade have greatly expedited procedures to make exportation faster. We export to Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Chile, because we participate in tenders in those countries, but don’t have products in the regular market. This process takes time, and we’re working to meet all the requirements. My son is currently in Mexico, in talks with a Mexican laboratory that will handle our registration process in Mexico and Colombia. There, we will participate in the private market and not be limited to public tenders. In Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru we have offices with our own workers.
“We have an investment of USD 2.5 million planned for equipment.”
LE: Do you have any social assistance and development policies aimed at underprivileged communities?
OH: Our company is split into two entities: Química Farmacéutica, which represents foreign laboratories, and Quimfa, our factory that manufactures national products. Both entities make regular donations — specially now that some areas of the country are being devastated by floods. We also sent a doctor with resources to assist in those areas.
LE: What are your objectives for the future?
OH: Our ambition is to have a presence in all of South America, at the very least. In the pharmaceutical industry, administrative procedures are very lengthy — they can take three to five years. Entering a new country requires a huge investment and a lot of time. It’s very important for us to shorten the time spent on the registration process in South American countries. We have a factory that can produce a lot more than it currently does, and which we built with the intention of exporting.