There are hundreds, if not thousands manufacturing entities in Malawi, each producing various products to suit the market, trying to adhere to standards and compete for buyers through quality and packaging.
Standing out among the lot may prove a challenge and when decorated with this year’s Best Manufacturers Award at the 27th Malawi International Trade Fair, Pharmanova Malawi Limited (PLM) not only rejoiced, but also realised the challenge of maintaining the standards it has set.
PLM managing director Yusuf Patel said in an interview after receiving the award that they owe their success to their dedicated staff at different levels of production and massive investment to superb machinery and infrastructure which has made Pharmanova a local household name.
“We are equipped with modern facilities and exercise massive quality control during and after production. Our manpower, which is well looked after, is one of the best in the industry.
“We serve our staff well so they can work diligently. We offer productivity lint incentives, annual performance bonuses and a good canteen to supplement their diets with breakfast, tea breaks and lunches as well as medical cover,” said Patel.
He said while any recognition serves as a source of pride—particularly having been presented by President Peter Mutharika—the company was obliged to maintain the standards and the best way would be to continue producing the best, affordable and user-friendly pharmaceutical products in service to the nation.
Patel further said PLM was also recently awarded a Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) certificate by the Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board and also certified by the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) for manufacturing cosmetics and a range of baby care products in Malawi.
He said PLM is one of the largest medicine manufacturing companies in Malawi and also one of the biggest suppliers of off the counter (OTC) products.
Among the list of products produced by Pharmanova are OCT medicines such as Panado, Cafemol, Novasprin, Hedax, Novafen, Novidar SP, Drews Liver Salt, Phipps Milk of Magnesia, Phipps Gripe Water and Stearns Cough Remedies.
The company also produces prescription medicines such as Novabarbitobe, Novazole, Novidar, Novamphenicol, Supadoxene, Novamox, Novatris and Novaphyline. Its skin care cosmetic creams include Hinds Pink Cream, Camphor Cream and Novaseline.
Baby care products by Pharmanova are baby bath, baby shampoo, baby powder, baby lotion and baby oil.
“PLM pricing is based on primary consideration of quality and affordability of people of Malawi. Quality of PLM products is comparable to international standards approved by regulatory authorities in Malawi from time to time.
“National Drug Quality Control Laboratory of Malawi, equipped with most modern testing facilities also undertakes thorough laboratory investigations of the medicine supplied,” said Patel.
According to Patel, Pharmanova has plans for expansion with over 30 products proposed for launch in 2016. The products include Calamine Lotion, liquid paraffin, Prednisolone, Diclofenac, Chloramphenical Suspension, Iron Syrup, Magnesium Tislilicate Oral Suspension, Multivitamin Syrup, Quinine Dihydrochloride, Salbutamol Sysrup, Diclofenac Gel and Silver Sulphadiazine.
Others are Indometacin, Metformin, Mlutivitamin Tablets, Omeprazole, Glutaraldehyde, Cetrimide, Emulsifying Ointment, Gentacin Violet Paint, Chlorhexidine, Whitfield’s Ointment, Praziquantel and Co-trimoxazole.
“We have been continuously upgrading our manufacturing facilities and have invested over $2 million (K890 million) in plant and machinery in the last four years,” said Patel.
He said the major plant and machinery so far installed are rapid mixer granulators, fluid bed dryers, compression machines, V-blenders, capsule filling and polishing machine; and strip packing and blister packing machines.
Patel added that currently, PLM has 200 skilled and unskilled employees, comprising technical and administrative staff. He said all its QA and quality control employees are mostly graduates from Malawi College of Medicine and some of the supervisory staff have undergone formal training and/or completed vocational training programmes.
In addition, Patel said PLM in not only about production and business. He said the company appreciates its social responsibilities and contributes towards projects and specific activities such as Safe Motherhood Initiative of former president Joyce Banda; sponsor some College of Medicine students; sponsors school events and sports activities such as boxing and golf, among others.
PLM’s policy vision and objectives are to deliver products and services that meet requirements and expectations of valued customers; to adhere to and meet quality norms as may be specified from time to time by relevant local regulatory authorities; protect the environment and also conserve resources; achieve continuous improvements in the production process and technology in use and offer value for money to our valued customers; perform tasks assigned correctly, first time every time and to work as a team dedicated to meeting business and social responsibilities.
As PLM basks in its newly found accolade, Patel said unrestricted flow of imported medicine mainly from India, China and other neighbouring countries is a major drawback and is impacting on its long-term investment decisions.
However, Patel said PLM finds solace in positive movement at government levels through the Buy Malawian initiative which promoted local support of the pharmaceutical industry.