27 Dec 2006
Health Matters(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 01,2007)
Pharmatech Solution Ltd
|Pharmatech Solution Ltd concentrates solely on producing intelligent pharmaceutical and healthcare products|
In 1999, when Leo Ho of Pharmatech Solution Ltd decided to concentrate solely on producing pharmaceutical and intelligent healthcare products, the CEO knew he had found the right niche.
The company he founded had been in business since 1986, mostly making electronic games and non-medical calculators under its former name of Leona Electronics Co Ltd. However, increasing competition from the Chinese mainland convinced Ho it was time to change course.
"We knew if we had a product with a design that could be copied it would be difficult for us to survive. But if you have software knowledge, that's not so easy to copy," he recalls. "That was when our long-term strategy shifted from pure design concepts to a software-oriented intellectual product line."
Ho's in-house R&D team of designers, software professionals and mechanical engineers used the company's previous experience as an OEM supplier of medical calculators for pharmaceutical companies as a basis for its work.
The firm soon began turning out electronic devices for medical professionals that were designed to be able to perform sophisticated calculations, such as determining a patient's risk of heart or kidney disease as well as being able to gauge individual medication dosages.
There were occasional pitfalls along the way. "Developing the software was difficult because customers sometimes gave us the wrong information," says Ho. "We had to verify every formula before we could proceed."
Today, Ho's company produces a total of 25 product series, or more than 150 medical calculators in all. Premiums items for leading pharmaceutical companies such as Wyeth, Merck, Pfizer, Roche and others account for about 70% of orders at Pharmatech. "We make the products and the pharmaceutical companies give them to doctors. We don't sell directly to doctors," explains Ho.
Consumer products such as nutrition and healthcare organisers, medication reminders and fast-food calorie counters constitute the remaining 30% of the company's business.
"Health is a key issue nowadays," he says. "We hope to have our ratio of medical to consumer products at 50:50 within the next three years. That's our future objective. But we want to do more R&D and design more products, such as blood pressure monitors and heart/pulse monitors and would like to introduce 10-12 new consumer products during the next 3-4 years."
The company typically manufactures its medium-priced products (US$5-10 each FOB Hong Kong) in three size ranges - pocket (8.5x6.1x0.7 cm), handheld (13.1x7.8x1.5cm) and desktop (27x20.2x1.2cm) - and exports to Europe, the US, Japan and Australia.
One major selling point for the company is the user-friendly aspect to its products. "We try to make our calculators as easy as possible to use," says Ho. "If you follow the display, it guides and there is no need to read a manual. Every step follows logically."
The various designs of the calculators are also appealingly trendy and modern, with ABS housings that are slim, flat and available in pleasing colour combinations.
In the more than 20 years since the company has been in business, it has undergone a significant evolution. Having worked in marketing for Japan's Sharp consumer electronics company, Ho started his own company with about 10 people - and a good insight into electronics and IC chips.
Currently, Pharmatech's combined workforce of 3,200 engineers and staff at the company's 30,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland allows it to produce 80,000-100,000 units per month.
Ho's interest in medical/health calculators also reflects his own philosophy about how one should live one's life. "I try to set an example by exercising, eating light and staying fit," says the tennis and golf player, adding that his company's own core values put a priority on innovation, performance, integrity and quality.
Sales have increased steadily year by year, at an annual rate of about 15%. "Our new name took effect from November 2006," says Ho, adding that he saw the potential for its consumer products to grow.
"We plan to start using Pharmtech as our brand name for consumer products by the middle of 2007 because we want to concentrate more in that area," he adds, noting that it would not replace the existing "Pharma-Cal" brand name.
With a clear vision of the road ahead, the OEM/ODM supplier's plans for the future call for nothing less than climbing to the top in its chosen field. "We hope to be a leading brand in healthcare products," Ho declares. "Toward that end, we hope to provide more and more products to people who are concerned about their health."
Pharmatech certainly appears to have a healthy future assured.
WRITTEN BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
Pharmatech Solution Ltd