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Watsons to open 50 more stores in 2015

MAJOR health and beauty retailer Watsons said last Friday it plans to open 50 additional stores in 2015 as part of beefing up its presence in the Philippine market.

Danilo S. Chiong, health business director of Watsons, said the company is bullish on the country’s pharmaceutical market valued at P135 billion.

“At present, Watsons has 387 stores nationwide. By the end of 2014, we plan to add 50 more stores and carry that momentum in 2015,” Chiong said.

“Hopefully, we can also achieve double-digit growth in 2015. It is our vision to outgrow the market,” Chiong said.

Currently, the industry is growing at an average of between 4 percent and 5 percent.

To gain a bigger share of the Philippine pharmaceutical market, Chiong said Watsons is building up its Watsons Generics brand to give more access to Filipinos belonging to the lower-income markets such as the C and D classes.

“We recognize that each family will have specific needs when it comes to their health. However, with the rising cost of not just medicines but all commodities, families may have difficulty meeting each specific need. With the launch of Watsons Generics, we aim to help families by giving them more health-care options and the ability to purchase affordable, high-quality medicine. This will not just give them access to quality health-care products, they will be able to focus their finances on other matters,” Chiong said.

The Philippine generic or unbranded industry is worth P10 billion. Aside from Watsons, other players include RiteMed of United Laboratories, The Generics Pharmacy and Generika.

The Watsons Generics line includes maintenance medicines for diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, antibiotics to fight off common bacteria, dietary supplements for skin enhancement, anti-aging and overall wellness, basic vitamins, oral analgesics and other over-the-counter medicines.

“This is just the first phase, and Watsons aims to continuously launch generic medicines to provide wider health-care solution,” Chiong said.

Karen Fabres, marketing manager of Watsons, said the main challenge of Watsons Generics is to spread awareness among consumers, especially on the more mature market that generic medicines have high quality and have passed the stringent standards of the Food and Drug Administration.

She said Watsons Generics medicines have passed the bioequivalence test and manufactured by facilities with certificates of Good Manufacturing Practice. Watsons Generics has partnered with six manufacturing brands namely United Laboratories, Sandoz, Pascual Laboratories, Innogen, Steinbach and Now.

In terms of quality, Chiong said Watsons Generics’s partner manufacturers undergo a screening process that meets international standards.

“Our generic medicines are produced by trusted partners.

All of these go through a rigorous screening process and a third-party audit.

These methods on top of Philippine regulatory agency standards assure consumers that they are purchasing high-quality products,” Chiong said.

Watsons currently operates  over 4,000 stores and more than 1,000 pharmacies in 12 Asian and European markets, including the whole of China, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Turkey and Ukraine.

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