GENERIC drugs were introduced in the Philippines several decades ago but until now a lot of us still don’t really understand what generic medicines are. The lack of awareness led people to create myths about them, and whether you agree or not, there’s a time you believed those myths.
One of the most troubling myths about generic drugs is its efficacy. Many claim that generic medicines are not effective and will only worsen your health condition. And this is where Generika Drugstore founder and people are working their best to provide the millions of Filipinos who need access to affordable quality medicine.
Since its inception 15 years ago, one of Generika Drugstore’s founders, Teodoro L. Ferrer, has already foreseen the challenges and issues they might face as they grow their business, and to ensure that these possible threats to their success will not give them problems in the future, Ferrer, together with his partner and staff, decided to strictly follow the guidelines they created to guarantee the best services and quality products for their customers.
Though it will add more cost to their operations, Ferrer’s company decided to make all Generika drugstores fully air-conditioned. “When we were beginning to build our stores our funds were very minimal; but to ensure the quality of the products we are selling, proper handling and storage must be a priority,” Ferrer said.
According to Ferrer, his instruction to equip the stores with good air conditioning system is something he doesn’t regret because Generika Drugstore has never been in a bad situation, which concerns the quality of the medicines they carry.
“For 15 years, we never had a quality case report from the FDA or the DOH,” Ferrer stressed.
Knowing that they are dealing with the lives of the people who trust their products and services, Ferrer believes that maintaining the quality of products they are selling should not only be guaranteed by their suppliers but also by them who distribute the medicines.
“We source our products from manufacturers that are certified for good manufacturing practices. We have a team in the company that checks on the quality and efficacy of the medicines. This team ensures that the generic medicines we are getting have the right certification, which indicates that these generic medicines have undergone laboratory testing and it can be compared to the innovators’ medicines,” he added.
Aside from reliable suppliers, Ferrer also put emphasis on the kind of storage system that they have in the company. “Generika Drugstore is very strict when it comes to handling and storage. From our warehouse down to our stores, we are very keen on keeping these medicines safe for consumption. If the medicines require to be in a temperature-controlled room, we put them there. We all make sure that what we provide for our customers are of best quality, safe and, of course, affordable.”
Growing his business was never a walk in the park, it was actually full of challenges, one of which was the acceptance of the market. “Generic medicines, 15 years ago, were like taboo to many Filipinos.”
The fact that many Filipinos are not convinced of the efficacy of generic medicines, even more the quality of these unbranded medications, Ferrer made it his personal advocacy to educate people about generic medicines. From the day they put up the company, according to Ferrer, the information-education campaign has always been on top of Generika Drugstore’s major activities. From barangays to major advertising efforts, Generika Drugstore has been leading the industry in making sure that Filipinos will have a better understanding of generic medicines, thus, giving them a choice.
“The price of generic medicines can be 80 percent lower compared to branded medicines,” Ferrer said.
For one and a half decades, Generika Drugstore has contributed a lot to the growth of its industry. It has initiated noteworthy practices within the drugstores to guarantee that its customers are well informed and taken cared of.
Generika Drugstore’s Gamot Guide, which is a printed instruction on how to take the medicine bought from them, is a remarkable store practice that no drugstores in the country has done in the past. This may seem to be a very basic service but for sure, it has saved so many lives because Filipinos are known to pop a pill any time they feel sick. With Gamot Guide, a customer will be reminded with information such as the proper storage, ingestion, and possible side effects of medicines.
Generika Drugstore is not only selling generic medicines, it is also reaching out to its customers to get medical checkups to know their correct health status. All their branches hold LibrengKonsulta or free medical consultation on a per schedule basis so those who cannot afford to go to hospitals can just visit the nearest Generika Drugstore branch and have an appointment with a doctor.
“We have been doing other services for our customers and potential customers by bringing them some hospital services like medical checkups and diagnostic tests. We believe that we also need to take care of our clients,” Ferrer quipped.
Like a father to his children, Ferrer is also very concerned about the total well-being of their customers. He believes that prevention is better than cure, which is why Generika Drugstore launched its own brands—Actimed for quality affordable generic medicines and Nutrawell for quality affordable food supplements. Generika Drugstore is proud to market that the brands only contain the best-quality ingredients, and yet still affordable but very effective.
“We are very careful when it comes to the sourcing of our generic medicine suppliers but we are more meticulous in products under our house brands.”
There’s already a long list of things that Generika Drugstore has initiated to improve the industry’s standards, but for Ferrer, much still needs to be done to provide better products and services to their customers.
And to make sure that his plans for the future will materialize, he found a solid and reliable partner. In 2015 Ferrer formed a new alliance, which he himself witnessed and experienced its industry leadership for more than two decades. Ferrer, who was once a part of the Ayala Group, partnered with the AC Health, an Ayala company, and he’s convinced that the blueprint of his vision for the company will be realized with this new partnership.
Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc. (AC Health) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ayala Corp., and serves as the portfolio company for health-care businesses. Its vision is to build a synergistic ecosystem that links every patient to a seamless health-care experience. Its portfolio includes Generika Drugstore, the pioneer in generic retail pharmacies, and FamilyDOC, a new chain of community-based primary care clinics. AC Health is also investing in health technology through its HealthTech arm, Vigos; MedGrocer, an FDA-licensed online pharmacy; and AIDE, a home health application which provides health services in the comfort of patients’ home.
One of the things Ferrer envisioned is to provide solution to a problem that has been haunting the industry: To deal with the shortage of licensed pharmacists in the country.
“One of the problems that all drugstores are facing is the shortage of pharmacists in the country. It is a requirement to at least have one licensed pharmacist at the stores, but there is a shortage of pharmacists. So right now, we are preparing to address this problem,” Ferrer stressed.
Generika Drugstore plans to employ more technology-based services in the near future. In doing so, the company aims to serve more customers in more dynamic and period-relevant ways. The company thrives in the business by developing innovative ways and still be true to its calling in serving others. These developmental projects are under way and Generika Drugstore aims to be a disruptor in the industry it lives in.
It has been written that Generika Drugstore came about because of the two individuals—Teodoro L. Ferrer and Julien Bello—who have a heart for poor people who are badly in need of medication. The desires of the founders to provide access to quality, affordable medicines led them to the establishment of a network of drugstores, which will sell quality affordable generic medicines—Generika Drugstore. Now that some of the missions and visions have been fulfilled, Ferrer has concocted another formula to better the health situation of the people.
The Project Oro of Ferrer, which was launched during the 15th anniversary of Generika Drugstore, is not about generic medicines but teaching the people to adapt a healthy lifestyle. This is another advocacy that aims to first change the mindset of the people about wellness, then lead them to practice a lifestyle that is rooted in attaining better health.
Ferrer also sees his business as an avenue where he and his company can pay it forward to those who also made them grow for 15 years, and these are the common people who patronize Generika Drugstore. With the Project Oro, Ferrer will again win the minds and hearts of Pinoys.