January 9, 2012

Pharma firm survives, thrives

[PHNOM PENH POST]

Ratanak Ratana Pharmaceutical Co, began importing medicine to Cambodia in 2008, just as the world was facing a serious economic crisis. The company has thrived, though, going from importing two types of medicine in its beginning stages to currently importing about 30 different kinds.

Phnom Penh Post reporter Sieam Bunthy interviewed Sien Sin Dy, the company’s director, about making inroads into the growing Cambodian pharmaceutical market.

Why did you look at the medical market in Cambodia and decide to take up the business of importing medicines?
I have medical knowledge from being a pharmacist and doctor. I know about both medicines and illnesses, so my customers trust me and order my products. I saw that there was large domestic demand for medicines because local production is not enough, and we need both imports and local production to meet demand.

What countries does your company import from? Have you distributed to the provinces yet? Who are your customers?
I import mostly from India and a little from Pakistan. I do distribute to provinces, but in some provinces I have not yet distributed broadly. My customers are doctors, pharmacies and clinics.

What obstacles has your company faced in the past and at the present?
It’s a new company with new products. Customers are used to their usual medicines, so I have to explain the quality of new products. Competition remains strong nowadays. There are about 200 medical companies in Cambodia.

It was good for me when I started to sell two or three months before a famous medical company went out of business because of the global economic crisis, and we began distributing the medicines customers used to know.

Your company started in 2008 during the global economic crisis. How did your company survive?
As my company was new then, we were not in debt. My product is new and of high quality, so the crisis did not affect us.

What strategies enable your company to compete in the market?
I think that what people need is low price and good quality. I have to make my product accessible, so people can buy it. These factors push my company to develop step by step.

Do you plan to expand your company in the future?
I am planning to import medicines from France and Europe.

Are you scared about new companies? Why do you think some companies fail?
There are many different types of medicine, so small and big companies can survive since most medicines do not overlap. But if they overlap, then new companies will have trouble surviving. Opening a company requires knowledge of the market. If they don’t know the market or if their prices are too high, they cannot compete, and their company will close.

What does the medical industry contribute to Cambodian economy?
It helps significantly to uphold our national economy. It provides jobs to our people. By supplying medicines to the provinces it reduces people’s expenses because they do not need to go to far to buy medicine. And especially, good medicines allow people to heal faster so they can continue working to accelerate the development of the nation.

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