Switch & Save
The Watsons Generics guarantee
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Building on its long-standing reputation for quality and innovation, the A.S. Watson Group, through its bevy of pharmaceutical lines and health products will hopefully contribute to the Pinoy health literacy cycle by introducing its own line of generic medicines and promote empowerment amongst Filipino consumers through its Switch & Save campaign.
The Watsons Generics (WG) line will offer a wide array of maintenance medicines (for diabetes, hypertension & high cholesterol), antibiotics to fight off common bacteria, dietary supplements for skin enhancement, anti-ageing and over-all wellness, basic vitamins, oral analgesics, and other over-the-counter formulations. All these are manufactured by trusted partners to ensure that pharmaceutical products are of high quality, safe and effective while maintaining affordability. By providing quality generic medicines to the public, Watsons hopes to build trust among its consumers and encourage them to be more proactive in maintaining their health as the company continues to offer more generic medicines to provide wider healthcare solutions.
“To ensure the quality of WG, our partner manufacturers underwent a screening process that met international standards. Our generic medicines are produced by trusted partners. All of them go through rigorous tests and third party audits. These methods, on top of Philippine regulatory agency standards, assure consumers that they are purchasing high quality products.
“We believe that the public and private sectors can collaboratively develop solutions to mitigate this problem of low health literacy. The new product lines of WG is a testament of our commitment to give the public more options so they can take control of their total wellbeing,” remarked Danilo Chiong, Watsons health business director.
Trusted pharmaceutical partners like Unilab, Pascual Laboratories, Sandoz, Imogen, Pharex, Now Foods and Steinbach have all underwent the five-step assurance test for quality standards. “The bio-equivalence test ensures the efficacy of our generics products as against other brands. The Generics image was not that good before. But with the presence of other key players believing in the power and reach of this platform, it’s getting better and better,” intoned Bethsaida B. Pascual, Watsons category manager.
Generic medicines account for P10-billion in generated revenues annually, contributing significantly to the total pharmaceutical sales of P135-billion in 2013. Value-wise, the generated income may seem small as the price points are lower, but the volume is really big in number.
At the launch of Watsons Generics (WG) in August, Dr. Anthony Leachon, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, emphasized that health literacy plays a critical role in addressing the dismal situation of Filipinos with regard to poor health and the high risk of hospitalization.
“There still are many gaps that need to be addressed to improve health literacy in the country. Poverty and lack of proper education remain to be some of the biggest factors that prevent patients to communicate, understand information, and subsequently make sound decisions about their wellbeing. What we need is a pragmatic approach toward health literacy; not only involving the doctor and patient but also pharmacist and product,” pointed out Dr. Leachon.
He further elucidated that the best way to address these gaps is to use a practical framework that illustrates how the physician, patient, pharmacist and product can work together to create a more health literate community. “Ultimately, health literacy is achieved when patients and providers truly understand each other,” he added.
In its initial launch, WG offered a wide variety of over-the-counter medicines, supplements, and maintenance drugs that addresses common ailments, illnesses, and lifestyle needs of Filipinos. Watsons was a pharmacy first in 1840, with over 170 years of pharmacy experience, and continues to lead the industry as Asia’s No. 1 pharmacy retail brand for six consecutive years now, according to last year’s Asia Pacific survey conducted and collated by Campaign Asia from among 3,000 respondents.
“Half of our products are for the mature market segment; those on regular medications. While the other half caters to the beauty market for young females. Our beauty formulations, especially the ready-to-drink options, are hot items for the young. But ultimately, health has to answer to all segments. Our full pharmaceutical range include branded/innovator labels, generic brands, company generic products (like Myra-E and Biogesic), and branded generics (like Pharex).
“Our pharmacists provide point of service as against a hard point of sale. They constantly continue their education as they need updated information each time they renew their licenses. In mid-November, WG will go on a nationwide sale. We recommend vaccines for the elderly where they can avail of the same for only P950 on the date of vaccination at selected outlets plus a few will get an additional 10 per cent discount as early bird registrants. And for more good news, PhilHealth cardholders enjoy 15 per cent discount on all WG products,” enthused marketing manager Karen M. Fabres.
In 2002, A.S. Watson Group joined hands with SM Prime Holdings Inc. in catering to a variety of lifestyles with an unrivaled diversity of products; having the mission to help people around the archipelago to look good and feel great. There are 330 Watsons stores nationwide but that number will rise to 350 by year’s end. These stores are located in malls like SM, Robinsons, Greenbelt, Walter Mart, and Gaisano, as well as in selected commercial business districts and residential areas. “Watsons aspiration within the region is to stand on the two strong legs of beauty and health. Our SM Megamall bridge-way store is the top-grosser while the Mall of Asia branch is the biggest in floor area. Products in all our outlets are inventoried once a week,” shared Fabres.
“We recognize that each Filipino family will have specific needs when it comes to their health. However, with the rising cost of not just medications but all commodities in general, all families may have difficulty meeting each specific need. With the launch of WG, we help families by giving them more healthcare options and the right to purchase affordable, high quality medicines. This will not just give them access to optimum products, but will also enable them to focus their finances on other important matters. “Consumers appreciate saving schemes as long as they are assured of quality and efficacy. Consumers appreciate saving schemes as long as they are assured of quality and efficacy,” Chiong concluded.
WG medicines have all passed the regulatory requirements of both local and international quality assurance agencies. The medicines are registered with the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), passed bio-equivalence tests and are manufactured by facilities bearing certificates of Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). WG have all these quality assurances whilst offering up to 80 per cent savings as against leading brands.
Watsons is Asia’s leading health and beauty retailer, currently operating over 4,000 stores and more than a thousand pharmacies in 12 regional markets including China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and mainland China), Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the Philippines. For more information, simply visit their company Web site, www.watsons.com.ph.