Mundipharma, recently delivered another boost to the City State’s booming biomedical sector, announcing a planned 7,900m² facility in Tuas.
The new facility will be the world’s first BETADINE® Consumer Health Hub that combines R&D, manufacturing and distribution. The povidone-iodine-based solution has been trusted by hospitals, doctors and consumers around the world for more than 60 years, and the new facility will produce the equivalent of approximately one billion applications of BETADINE® treatments annually to meet increased demand in the region.
Mundipharma, which already has its regional headquarters in Singapore, has achieved significant growth over the past four years, and is proud to be part of the country’s dynamic business landscape.
A further demonstration of Mundipharma’s commitment to the region, the highly-automated new facility will feature cutting-edge technology and house six BETADINE® production lines, creating demand for a range of jobs. The facility will be operational in January 2018.
APBN interviewed Mr. Raman Singh to learn more about Mundipharma's new BETADINE® facility that aims to meet Asia's healthcare challenges.
Interview with Raman Singh, President of Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East & Africa, Mundipharma
1. Learning that a BETADINE® Consumer Health Hub will be operated by Mundipharma, why is BETADINE® chosen to be "the" drug for setting up this new facility for production?
BETADINE® has been Mundipharma’s flagship anti-infective range of products for both healthcare professionals and consumer use for over 60 years. It was used by NASA to disinfect Apollo 11 in 1969 after the first manned mission to the moon. A leading antiseptic globally, it is now part of a wider range that includes wound care, oral/throat care and feminine care. Having a production facility for one of the WHO’s listed essential medicines is an enormous value-add for the region. It means we will be able to respond with scale and speed to healthcare crises and keep up with demand from hospitals, doctors and consumers in the region to fight infections.
2. What are the current roles of regional headquarters of Mundipharma in Singapore? How does the BETADINE® facility value-add to the region?
Mundipharma provides essential medicines in six therapy areas: analgesics, oncology, oncology supportive care, ophthalmology, respiratory and consumer health. While we have offices throughout Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, our office in Singapore acts as a hub from which we create, coordinate and drive strategies to improve access to essential medicines for people in these emerging markets.
From 2018, 70 percent of our regional volume will be produced here, with six production lines producing about a billion applications of BETADINE® treatments every year.
In addition, the new facility will conduct R&D to meet future healthcare challenges. One of the advantages of BETADINE® is the lack of bacterial resistance development being demonstrated to date and this is important given the rise of the antibiotic-resistant superbug.
3. How does BETADINE® work? What are the uses of BETADINE® in general? Can BETADINE® be a one-for-all cure? Or does it need to be complemented with other methods?
The active ingredient of BETADINE®, povidone-iodine, kills germs quickly to prevent infections, which can cause diseases.
We don’t talk about a one-for-all cure, because after decades of research and product innovation across the wound care, oral/throat care and feminine care range, there are many uses – from surgeons preparing for operating, to parents treating their children’s’ playground scrapes and sore throats.
In some scenarios, multiple BETADINE® products may be used to provide holistic protection against viruses. For example, in the case of Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD), both the BETADINE® Skin Cleanser and BETADINE® Mouthwash & Gargle are useful against infections and can be used in tandem.
It can be used in cancer supportive care it manage oral mucositis, a side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
4. How prevalent has BETADINE® been used for preventing recent disease outbreaks like Ebola and MERS?
In-vitro studies have proven BETADINE® kills the viruses associated with Ebola, MERS, SARS, HFMD and Influenza, which helps minimise the risk of human-to-human transmission.
Mundipharma was selected to be the exclusive partner to the Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) and to Egypt’s Ministry of Health in a bid to tackle potential outbreaks of respiratory infections. With millions of visitors arriving for religious pilgrimages, an integrated campaign called "Stay Healthy” was launched to drive public awareness about protection from potential outbreaks of respiratory infections, such as influenza and rhinovirus.
In December 2014 Mundipharma announced an initiative to support the control of Ebola, donating supplies of BETADINE®, sufficient for more than two million hand washes in Ebola treatment centres in West Africa.
5. With the multitude of drug research, how does Mundipharma decide which potential drug to back?
There are a range of factors to consider, including the unmet patient need across the region and in specific markets, synergies with our existing product portfolio, and our ability to deliver public health benefits through our extensive regional network. There is no single formula driving our decision making: rather a complex process of due diligence, listening and consultation.
Our investment in our new BETADINE® facility in Singapore is an example of this approach, especially with the rising threat of viral infections.
6. What led to Mundipharma’s decision to build a facility combining R&D, manufacturing and distribution of BETADINE®? (Why was a combined facility preferred over separate specialised facilities?)
Combining manufacturing and R&D functions allows us to achieve economies of scale and supply chain efficiency, while at the same time investing in the next generation of treatments specifically for Asian markets. It’s very much a triple-win solution, for patients, healthcare professionals and for Mundipharma.
It makes strong business sense, given the region’s growth projections, increasing consumer demand, as well as Singapore’s strategic location and governance and policies. This growth is being driven by factors such as rising healthcare standards in emerging countries and the increasing outbreaks of infectious diseases around the world. From 2018, 70 percent of our regional volume will be produced here, with six production lines producing about a billion applications of BETADINE® treatments every year.
7. Will the R&D function in the BETADINE® facility focus mainly on research to combat against infectious diseases? (How about the other research areas?)
Yes, the facility’s key focus will be to find new ways to combat new infectious diseases. We also aim to develop new consumer healthcare products. BETADINE® is an iconic brand trusted around the world for over 60 years. We’re excited that this facility, country and region could be the birthplace for new additions to the BETADINE® family.
8. What are Mundipharma's future plans in the region?
Our immediate plans are to support the growing demand for accessible and effective treatments like BETADINE® among the region’s growing population, meeting unmet patient needs in areas such as ophthalmology and strengthening our reach into communities where our products can be most effective.
Given the high burden of healthcare costs, governments can encourage consumers to take proactive steps to take control of their health. We aim to continue to partner with consumers to help achieve better infection control via hand and respiratory hygiene during high risks seasons.
We are also always on the lookout for opportunities to grow our business and increase patient access to essential treatments. We actively evaluate opportunities to complement our existing product portfolio in both ethical (prescription) pharmaceuticals and consumer health. Our network of offices enables us to support the entire product development lifecycle from discovery to product launch and commercialization.
About the Interviewee
Based in Singapore, Raman Singh was appointed to the role of President of Mundipharma Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa in October 2011. Mr Singh oversees all aspects of the Mundipharma business across these territories. Prior to this, he was the vice-president of commercial operations for emerging markets at GlaxoSmithKline, based in London, where he was in charge of overseeing all aspects of the brand’s commercial operations across its emerging markets. Mr Singh has previously held positions in Abbott as the regional director in Australia and New Zealand, and general manager for Korea. He has also held various sales, marketing and strategy positions in Bayer. He holds an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management.