Watsons Generics

AREA Awards recognizes health campaign
by Chin-Chin Chan Chiu

In 2012, Watsons launched its own line of branded Generics line in the hope of increasing the health literacy of Filipinos and to provide a more cost efficient yet quality alternative to some of the most common ailments. According to the World Population Review, there are 100.6-million people in the Philippines and only a fraction has access to proper healthcare. Sadly, six out of ten die without medical intervention. Like Indonesia, the Philippines belongs to the third tier in healthcare services delivery.
For a developing country like ours, with an average monthly household income of $400 for a family of five, it is ironic that penetration of generic medicines is very low at only 5 per cent (as against 70 to 80 per cent in more advanced countries like the US). In addition, due to financial constraints, non-compliance to medical prescriptions is highly prevalent, with Filipinos prioritizing more basic needs as food and shelter rather than healthcare and medications. The entire generics business is only 8 per cent of the total pharmaceutical industry in the Philippines, which grows very slowly at the rate of 3 to 4 per cent each year. This is ironic since we need it more than other developed countries. The good news, however, is that due to wider acceptance the recent growth of the generics market, in terms of sales, has grown by 15 per cent.
"Watsons is going back to its roots; offering options to the underprivileged. We have also aligned with the government's healthcare program so majority of the Filipinos can have access to affordable quality formulations through our Switch & Save program," intoned senior marketing manager Karen Fabres.
Watsons' efforts were hailed by the prestigious AREA (Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship) Awards program which recognizes and honors businesses that champion sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship in the categories of Green Leadership, Investment in People, Corporate Governance, Social Empowerment, SME CSR, Responsible Business Leadership, and Health Promotion.
In the latter category, the A.S. Watson Group (Philippines) was recognized for its 'Watsons Generics: Improving Lives of the Filipinos One Pill at a Time' campaign. The pharmaceutical company celebrated a notable recognition as well as share with Watsons Generics clients the plans to further its advocacy.
"We now have 434 stores nationwide and 30 more are opening in the coming months. We expand at the rate of 50 stores a year. All our stores will more or less account for 90 per cent of what Pinoys needs in terms of medicines. Also, we have tapped the television medium for a more broader reach.
"The AREA Award has affirmed the advocacy of Watsons Generics. In the Health Promotion category, we are the only Filipino recipient thus far. We were cited for addressing relevant social issues with direct beneficiaries in the social sector. Watsons received the trophy last June 19th in Macau.
"Winning this award is not just a recognition of our efforts but also a challenge for us to further this advocacy in helping improve the lives of more Filipinos. For more than 170 years, Watsons has been providing health and wellness products to consumers worldwide. We are excited to do the same in the Philippines by allowing Filipino families take charge of their health without fear of financial burden," explained marketing director Viki Encarnacion.
"In 2002, we opened our beauty stores. You can't be beautiful if you're not healthy. Both our businesses complement each other; much like external cream and ingestives for whitening. We are now in our provincial expansion phase. Slowly, we are going out to the streets, aside from the mall-based outlets," she added.
From over 300 nominations in 28 countries, only 52 projects across Asia were chosen for the six aforementioned categories. Enterprise Asia, AREA's award-giving body based in Malaysia, is a non-governmental organization in pursuit of creating an Asia that is rich in entrepreneurial spirit as an engine towards sustainable and progressive economic and social development within a world of equality. The organization works with governments, NGOs, and other organizations to promote entrepreneurship and sustainable development, in uplifting the economic status of peoples across Asia and in
ensuring a legacy of hope, innovation and courage for the future generations. Two Filipinos, Bam Aquino and Gwendolyn Garcia, sit as members of AREA's international board.
"To ensure the quality of Watsons Generics, the company's partner manufacturers has undergone screening processes that meets international standards. Our generic medicines are produced by trusted pharmaceutical companies. All of them go through rigorous screening and third party audit. Our 5-step quality assurance process includes an 18-month evaluation. These methods, on top of Philippine regulatory agency standards, assure consumers that they are purchasing high quality products," revealed trading health director Danilo Chong.
Watsons Generics medicines have all passed the regulatory requirements of local and international quality assurance agencies. The medicines are registered with the Philippine Food & Drug Administration (FDA), passed bioequivalence test and are manufactured by facilities with certificates of Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP). Watsons Generics have all of these quality assurances while offering up to 80 per cent saving as against leading brands.
The Watsons Generics line includes maintenance medicines for diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol); antibiotics to fight off common bacteria; dietary supplements for skin enhancement, anti-ageing and overall wellness; basic vitamins; oral analgesics; and other over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
"At present, we have 56 SKUs, with 40 more to be added by September this year, that will further strengthen our OTC, vitamins, antibiotics and supplement product lines. All these address more than 70 per cent of the healthcare of all Pinoys. We just opened our 400th store in Tacloban. We will expand with more stores so we can reach out to more Filipinos. We source our products not just on price points but more importantly on the quality," Chong concluded.
Watsons Philippines recently partnered with AlfaMart (SM's convenient store chain) to further ensure that Watsons Generics will reach communities where Watsons stores are not present. This unique distribution strategy has ensured that Watsons Generics are finally accessible to the broad-based, yet oft-neglected, Class D and E markets.
Watsons is Asia's leading health and beauty retailer, currently operating over 4,000 stores and more than a thousand pharmacies in Asian markets that include mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, Ukraine and the Philippines.


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