Pharma-Q: Manufacturing a healthy population

As technology has advanced, the irrevocable truth is that the world has gotten smaller. It takes seconds to send a message to someone located on the other side of the world. At the same time, manufacturing bases have changed as many businesses look to maximise margins by keeping production costs to a minimum. Geographically, that last point has been good news for some South African businesses, with Pharma-Q a beneficiary.

PharmaQThe Johannesburg company is one of South Africa’s leading contract-manufacturing businesses, having built a tall reputation since its launch in 2008.

Pharmaceutical contract manufacturing is a highly competitive business and Pharma-Q is able to measure its success through its long list of illustrious clientele which includes: Adcock Ingram, Adcock Ingram Critical Care (Pty) Ltd, Akacia Healthcare, Aspen Pharmacare, B Braun Medical South Africa, Bayer Healthcare, Betabs Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Laboratories (Pty) Ltd, Cipla Medpro (Pty) Ltd, FDC SA Ltd, Ferring (Pty) Ltd, Galderma South Africa, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd, Innovata Pharmaceuticals, Inova Pharmaceuticals South Africa, Mercury Pharma, Novartis South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Pfizer Laboratories South Africa, Pharmachem Pharmaceuticals, Smith and Nephew (Pty) Ltd, Tiger Brands Limited, Watson Pharmaceuticals and Wildlife Pharmaceuticals.

The company was previously known as Cosi Pharmaceuticals SA but was subsequently acquired by a consortium of Micro Labs Ltd Group, The Siroya Group and Holistic Remedies (Pty) Ltd. As a result, the name Pharma-Q came into fruition in November 2005, with a particular focus on pharmaceuticals.

The company has invested in technology to provide a broad base of manufacturing solutions. Today Pharma-Q manufactures in excess of 500 products in a modern facility that meets all international regulatory requirements.

The 20,000 square metre site has undergone significant investment in recent years and Pharma Q (Pty) Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pharma Q Holdings (Pty) Limited, has received funding from the IDC to upgrade and modify the plant in accordance with the Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PICS) standard by the industry regulator, the Medicines Controls Council (MCC). The funding reportedly helped to sustain 395 permanent jobs and 133 temporary jobs, whilst creating an additional 45 new direct permanent jobs through the upgrade of the manufacturing plant.

The diversity of the plant’s facilities has given Pharma-Q greater flexibility and the company currently produces a variety of steriles – which includes eye and ear drops as well as injectables such as glass ampoules, vials and dental cartridges; liquids, creams and ointments and tablets, powders and suspensions for its customer base.

Each step of the manufacturing and packaging process is painstakingly monitored and for the steriles, for example, all of the filling processes are carried out aseptically to maintain sterility.

The new vials filling facility is state of the art. Production in vials ranges from SVP to LVP’s and Pharma-Q produces the most diverse range of sterile dosage forms in South Africa,” the company website describes.

The company’s focus on liquids, creams and ointments largely concentrates on oral syrups and suspensions, oral gargles and sprays, topical and vaginal creams, topical ointments, topical and vaginal gels, haemodialysis products as well as veterinary suspensions.

Packaging comes in a number of forms including glass and plastic bottles, metal and plastic tubes and a variety of jar sizes.

Pharma-Q’s solids manufacturing tends to focus on tablets – which can be produced plan, with film or sugar coated, capsules (tailored to the required size) and granules and powders. The company generally packs these products in blisters or glass and plastic containers.

Diversity of course gives Pharma-Q a wider variety of prospective clients and means that the company is to an extent immune from the effects of economic strain. That variety has been achieved through significant investment and speaking a couple of years ago, the company’s CEO Tony Lesch confirmed that Pharma-Q had redesigned its facilities in order to facilitate production for contract manufacturing.

Quality control of course is paramount at any pharmaceutical manufacturing business and Pharma-Q maintains this partly through its own microbiology laboratory, which carries out routine microbiological screening of incoming raw materials, intermediates and manufactured products, water testing, sterility testing, bacterial endotoxin testing, preservative effectiveness testing, environmental monitoring and antibiotic assessing of raw materials and manufactured products.

The quality aspect is very much a part of Pharma-Q’s mantra and helps to define the business, as the company website explains:

We pride ourselves on providing our clientele with quality medicines backed by our people’s expertise and unwavering commitment to ensure that the medicines we manufacture are indeed safe and reliable.

Pharma-Q believes that energy, honesty, commitment to delivery and passion are the qualities needed to set the company apart from its competitors. We are the only Dental Cartridges Manufacturer in South Africa and one of only a select few licensed Steriles Manufacturers.”

Those high standards are further enhanced with approval from the Medicines Control Council (MCC) and Pharma-Q has extended its reputation far beyond South Africa’s boundaries and retains ambitious plans, as the website continues:

We are the only South African Manufacturer registered in Dubai and we are in process with approvals to export to the GCC (Bahrain, Kuwan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).

Through our access to world-class pharmaceutical technology, equipment and skills, Pharma-Q has strong R&D; API and Formulation capabilities locally, and augmented by international back-up.

Pharma-Q has set ambitious goals for the future to become a competitive global player and to set the De Facto industry standard for manufacturing of a focused range of pharmaceutical products.”