Myrna Sarino, a housewife from Taguig City in the Philippines, explains how switching to generic medicines has helped her save money without having to compromise on the quality of healthcare for herself and her family.
Erikagen Inc., an inclusive business company that runs the Generika Drugstores in the Philippines, now serves thousands of customers across the country, providing affordable generic medicines and quality healthcare services while still turning a profit.
Erikagen Inc., was the winner of the first ASEAN Inclusive Business Awards, which was held in 2017.
The Asian Development Bank, through its Inclusive Business Support Project, is helping governments and the private sector put in place policies, programs, and incentives for inclusive businesses across Asia and the Pacific.
Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines – Health expenses can be a crippling burden to the poor. Many cannot afford essential medicines, and even minor ailments can lead to debt. A solution is at hand thanks to generic, unbranded quality medicines.
Generika stores in the Philippines now offer low-cost, quality medicines and healthcare services for the poor.
“Sometimes I just buy medicines for my maintenance, and when I find that it has lesser price, the money left in my wallet I buy for the necessities, the vitamins of my grandchildren,” says Myrna Sarino, a housewife from Taguig City, Metro Manila.
“I even tell my neighbors: ‘Go to Generika, you buy there. There will be a laboratory where they will connect you.”
Erikagen Inc., which runs the Generika stores, serves thousands of customers across the Philippines.
“I remember we opened 15 company stores and we were losing a lot of money in the first 3, 4 years, which was anticipated,” says Ted Ferrer, Co-founder and President of Erikagen Inc.
“Soon after that, we launched franchising because we had confidence in the business model, and that is when sales grew, and we started making money, and so on, and so on.”
Changing people’s misconceptions of generic medicines, however, was not easy.
“We had to do a lot of Generika awareness stops where we explained to them what are branded medicines that are covered by patents and during that time it’s a monopoly and the company can charge whatever they want for that,” continues Ferrer.
“But after the patent expires, generic medicines can come in and, similar therapeutic benefits and you save 85 to 90 per cent.”
After years of expansion, the generic medicines market still has margins for growth
“There are still so many communities in the country that we can actually serve,” adds Ferrer.
“Some of them might not be so comfortable with generic medicine, nor is it easy for them to have access to these.”
Generika stores have also expanded their offer to include healthcare services.
“Our Family Doc Clinic here at Generika offers cheaper services compared to other diagnostic clinics,” explains Marylin De Leon, Generika Store Manager from Taguig City.
“We offer free consultations to poor patients who would not be able afford regular consultation fees.”
For many entrepreneurs, generic drugstores also represent an appealing business proposition.
“Most of our customers only know branded medicines,” says Ben Monteiro, a Generika franchisee from the island of Luzon.
“So we introduce the product, join their social activities, and explain to them the advantages and disadvantages, and the services that we are offering. We do this as a free service.”
Inclusive business companies like Erikagen make a profit while providing affordable services. This is a win-win situation for all, especially for those at the bottom of the pyramid.