Community Pharmacy

Original ideas for better access to medicine

Offering originality combined with cost savings without sacrificing quality. These are amongst the founding principles of parallel importing company, Originalis.

Originalis supply original medicine at very attractive prices in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK with more markets on the way. The company offer community pharmacists access to a wide and constantly growing product portfolio with a particular focus on specialty and High Tech medicine.

We spoke to the team to find out more about their company history, values and offering to the pharmacy profession within Ireland.

Originalis forms part of the Abacus Medicine Group, which is among the market leaders in parallel trade of pharmaceuticals in Europe.

Sales & Business Development Director Kasper Yde explains, “Abacus Medicine was founded by our CEO Flemming Wagner and his father, John Wagner, in 2004.

At this time, John was a practicing Danish doctor and was encountering patients on certain medication that were suffering shortages in Denmark. With the patient always the primary priority, he started looking beyond his own national border and found that he could import the medicine from Germany.

“He also found that he could do this at a lower price and therefore provide savings to the patient.”
It was this practice which the pharmaceutical industry has now come to know as ‘parallel distribution’ or ‘parallel importing’ and it was then that Flemming and John made the decision to take their idea further and began focusing on providing access to medicine and savings to more and more pharmacies throughout Denmark.

“Some sixteen years later we employ over 1,000 staff across Europe and are operating in 12 European markets providing better access to pharmacies and hospitals,” adds Thibaut Evers, Project Manager for Ireland.

Through parallel trade, the medicine suppled to pharmacists and, eventually patients, is original medicine purchased in another country within the EU. Originalis buy at lower prices in EU member countries and then repackage for the Irish market. “It is our way to offer the same original medicine, but at Originalis prices,” he says.

Origins of Growth

Originalis are a very growth oriented business and operate in many markets. He continues, “Two years ago we started working with Uniphar on a number of pharmacy lines. During 2020, we launched our own distribution in Ireland in order to expand our reach and offering to even more pharmacies.

“We continuously strive for excellence to meet our customer needs. One of our key focus areas is the reliability of supply. We have a strong network with European suppliers to ensure reliability of supply. In July we further strengthened our position with the acquisition of Pluripharm, one of the leading full-line wholesalers in the Netherlands.”

Maintaining this focus and pursuit of excellence is not without its challenges. Ireland has one of Europe’s highest healthcare costs per capita and, Kasper notes, Irish community pharmacy businesses are frequently squeezed for profits.

“We are here to reduce healthcare expenditure by providing the same medicine at better prices through our European network. The main challenges we faced this year were within the context of distribution set-up and reimbursements,” he explains.

“We wanted to provide excellent service with next day deliveries nationwide for both ambient and cold chain products. We have also realized that the reimbursement structure in Ireland is a lot more bureaucratic and time consuming compared to most other markets we operate in.”

Portfolio Development

The Originalis team are constantly adding new products to the existing portfolio and are in constant dialogue with the national healthcare authorities to provide savings.

“We are submitting many applications for which we are able to offer significant savings,” adds Kasper. “In the past few months our list of reimbursable items has been increased substantially and you will see our portfolio of attractive GMS and High Tech lines grow in the future as well.”

Turning to distribution, Originalis have decided to partner with the local sales and distribution agent RxSource located in Dublin Ballycoolin. “They are doing a fantastic job in making sure all products are delivered to pharmacists in the most effective way while providing an excellent customer service.”

It has been argued in the past, that the complexity of how parallel imports are supplied can sometimes create problems such as risk of human error in repackaging for example. Following the right approaches is key, says Kasper.

“Our processes are highly standardized and we follow a best practice approach. The integrity of the medicine is never at risk as we do not open the actual product. What we do is to repackage the outer packaging material. I would argue that we actually reduce the risk of falsification because we have additional falsification checks in place before repackaging.

“We are one of Europe’s largest parallel distributors with a revenue in 2019 of 421 million EUR. Our size allows us to source Europe’s best prices with great reliability. We pursue a multi-market strategy and have therefore excellent relationships in many markets further strengthening our ability to source products on a continuous basis. If there is a shortage of an imported product in one country we can still source it from another because we diversify our supply chain. Another important factor is our high focus on quality.

“We have excellent quality processes for all our goods and we provide a box design that is called full replica. That means that our products cannot be distinguished from the original distributed in Ireland. Some of our competitors opt for a cheaper portfolio with over-labelling solutions but that is not where our focus lies.”

Harnessing Innovation

One of the key objectives set out by the team is to offer the same original medicine that the pharmacists are used to receiving.

“Compared to our competitors, you will see that we can offer many High Tech and cold chain items. We help pharmacies realize better bottom line results, easing the financial pressure and allowing them to re-invest that money in more adding value activities for their patients.

Further, we are always looking to expand our portfolio to make it even more attractive for pharmacies to order from us. If any pharmacists are interested in collaborating with us or have specific requests, I would urge them to get in touch,” Thibaut says.

You can now even open an account with Originalis through IPN on the next page.

What makes you proud?
Abacus Medicine - Annual Results 2019


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