Thursday, May 12, 2011

GSK and the Road to Good Health

"Prevention is the best cure."

GSK is one of two multinational pharma companies enduring to operate in the Philippines. The economic flop we had a few years ago further strained operations of global brands. In the recent years, GSK has voluntarily reduced prices of 40-60% of products they manufacture locally to shift to a new strategy and cope with the demand for lower-priced medicine aside from the government mandated reduction of a number of drugs. 
Mr Edgardo Alvinez, GSK-Cainta Technical Director

Last April, I joined the media tour of GSK's Manufacturing Plant in Cainta. The facility can be described as one with uber strict policies to ensure compliance to quality standards and implement safety measures to protect employees. Based on Good Manufacturing Practices I have attended some years ago from a DTI agency, I can say that GSK's standards are above average. The management take things more seriously than many of the pharma, cosmetic and food manufacturing plants I have visited before.

I was also happy to learn that GSK also partners with a local fabricator to streamline processing. Many manufacturers are tied with infrastructure and equipment investments that they are often unable to accommodate pricing shifts. The GSK Manufacturing Plant houses several European-made equipment that are critical to the systematic and safe production of up to 100,000 capsules and 100kg of ointment and cream. While some products are for exclusive distribution to other South East Asian countries, most are distributed locally. The GSK plant can produce pharmaceutical and cosmetic lines within the manufacturing capacity of available equipment. Cost efficiency has been GSK's constant concern to provide quality products at competitive prices.

Being a global brand, it is tough for GSK to compete with local drug manufacturers whose primary concern is to provide cheaper medicine. GSK is known as a research-based pharma company who stand by their products' quality and safety. I can attest to the efficiency of some GSK products we have used before: Ventolin, Bactroban and Dequadin. 

After the tour, we proceeded to the Pinto Art Gallery for a more informative, and surprisingly enlightening,  discussion of issues concerning health and medicine. PMA President Dr. Oscar Tinio shared their study and explained the "Doctor's Dilemma". His presentation brought to light that availability and affordability of drugs do not ensure patient compliance to drug prescription which hinders patient recovery. This crucial aspect negatively affects patient care and keeps doctors from best practice medicine.

Despite the establishment of Philhealth, healthcare in the Philippines is still far from ideal. As the trend of public and private partnerships flourish, I look forward to GSK's catalytic role in the realization of "Universal Healthcare".

GSK's Value Health program hopes to make life-saving medicine and vaccines available to the poor, which comprises a big chunk of the Philippine population. This partnership with DOH is targeting to increase registration and membership in Philhealth.

Why Philhealth? It is remarkable that in many developed countries, healthcare is made more accessible to a lot of people. According to GSK President and Managing Director Roberto Taboada, quality healthcare is made possible by health insurance. Something that is hardly considered valuable in the Philippines. He believes that an improved mandate to provide better healthcare, easy access to doctors and the right medicine will gear Filipinos to give more value to health. It is a brave step for GSK to foster the Value Health mission.

GSK's Disease Awareness Campaign: Flu Vaccinations



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