A SUGARED PILL

Oman 2015 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to P.S. Ramesh Prakash, General Manager of Ibn Sina Pharmacy, on nationwide product delivery and imminent changes to the business environment.

P.S. Ramesh Prakash
BIOGRAPHY
P.S. Ramesh Prakash began his career in the pharmaceuticals sector at M/s Win-Medicare India Limited in Madras, India, in April of 1984. After extensive experience in the sector he joined Ibn Sina Pharmacy LLC in 2004 as General Manager. Having graduated in Science from the University of Madras in April 1983, he subsequently completed his postgraduate studies in Public Administration from the University of Madras in April 1985, and received a postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration from Annamalai University in August 1987.

How would you assess the healthcare industry in Oman?

The Oman healthcare sector can be divided into three basic components: hardcore pharmaceuticals, medical care (hospitals), diagnostics, and physiotherapy. Oman has excellent healthcare facilities and has been advancing rapidly in this sector. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, has a great vision of self-sufficiency in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The private sector is also now becoming involved in the sector, meaning it is on a very solid path to progress.

What were the highlights for Ibn Sina Pharmacy over the past few years?

We have a well-balanced portfolio with regard to healthcare. We have a network of 15 retail pharmacies across Oman and have the distinction of being the only private retail chain pharmacy in large up-and-coming towns in the micro-interiors of the country, such as Duqm, Mahout, Haima, Thumrait, and Adam. The government provides pharmaceutical healthcare to these regions, but we are also excited to offer our services to the people of the Sultanate who live in these interior regions and cities.

Earning the reputation of a reliable supplier of healthcare products and services has been a significant highlight over the years. ISO certification by BVQI, recognition as an Oman Superbrand, and the recognition of the Ministry of Health are testament to our commitment to deliver quality. We are a major supplier of both finished pharmaceutical products and also non-pharmaceutical products, such as medical equipment, surgical disposables, and diagnostics equipment. Overall, 2014 has been a good year, with our business pace seemingly ahead of the market growth.

What are your advantages vis-à-vis the competition?

The healthcare industry falls into a particular range of services that essentially are not that different in terms of the types of services being provided. After all, the products we all sell are approved by the Ministry of Health, meaning that nobody can claim that their products are better than those of another. That being said, Ibn Sina Pharmacy is always seen to be a fair, serious, genuine player with excellent logistical support, both to the government and the private sector. I think what distinguishes us is our excellent logistics capabilities. We also manage our business well in terms of human resources, software, finances, and management practices.

What effects does the recent price-harmonization regulation in the GCC have on your business and the sector overall?

We have long been monitoring the progress of the healthcare sector and market in the GCC, and are fully in sync with the region. As an example, the Council of GCC Health Ministers had already taken a decision to standardize the price of medicines throughout the region. We have a period of three months in which to implement the new regulations. The lowest prices are in Saudi Arabia, and may eventually impact our own sales volume, but time will tell.

Which hospitals do you work with?

There has been an explosion of hospitals in the country over the past decade, both government and private. The largest and the first of its kind as a large institution providing excellent healthcare facilities and services was the Royal Hospital. Then, came the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, which is also an excellent facility. And then we have the Ministry of Defense hospitals, which provide fantastic healthcare to patients nationwide. The Ministry of Diwan has also opened a huge center. Private hospitals have also developed well in recent years, building up specializations and offering excellent health services in fields such as cardiology, obstetrics, and pediatrics, for example. And this is not just the case in the large coastal cities, but also in the major interior cities and areas of the country.