Ted Talks: The story behind Generika Drugstore
How do you end up with a start-up just when you’re about to wind down? Ted Ferrer, founder and President of Generika Drugstore, was a 60-year-old ex-Ayala executive. He wanted to do something worthwhile with his retirement funds as a way of giving back to the community.
“I sincerely believe that I was greatly inspired by the example of my father. He was a primary care physician in Zamboanga City who practiced medicine up to age 83. I remember visiting his clinic often after school and seeing it filled with patients. My father would treat 100 or more patients everyday mostly from the less fortunate. For the longest time, he charged only P2 for his professional fee compared to P150 to P200 by other doctors.”
The meeting of Ted and a young Frenchman named Julien Bello in 2003 was pure coincidence but also a stroke of genius. Bello was doing social work in the Philippines and was exposed to the plight of Filipino factory workers who were unable to purchase medicines due to high prices.
With nothing but a fierce sense of social purpose and corporate experience, the two gentlemen started a drugstore that solely offers generic medicines. The co-founders were motivated by a genuine desire to help communities address their health concerns. They were firm in their mission to change the public acceptance of generic medicines. And they believed in this, in spite of not having any previous knowledge or experience in the pharmaceutical and the retail business.
The cause did not come without a price. “Our first office was in a 2-bedroom apartment along Sucat in Paranaque,” Ted recalled. “Like any other start up, Generika Drugstore went through growing pains. Fortunately, Julien and I had sufficient funds to survive the initial years of losses that were anticipated.”
Slowly, communities were convinced to try generic medicines. They found the medicines effective and affordable, and soon were switching over. “Some 14 years ago, no one buys generic drugs. But through our constant education, we were able to convince the public that it is safe to take generic medicines,” Ted said.
In 2015, Julien went back to France to be with his children. Julien then sold his shares to Ayala Healthcare. These developments keep Ted upbeat. “With Ayala Healthcare in the picture, Generika Drugstore will be further strengthened and energized, being able to serve more remote municipalities throughout the Philippines with a wider range of medicines, supplements, and related innovative health services,” he shared.
These achievements can no longer be unnoticed. Generika Drugstore was recently honored with the first ASEAN Inclusive Business Award last September 6, 2017. From the 29 entries in the category from the ASEAN region, 5 finalists were selected, and Generika Drugstore emerged as the winner.
Winding down, you ask? Far from it. Ted shared a story to highlight a factor that motivates the company to continue with what we are doing. “When we opened a store in Tanjay, Negros, an island in the Visayas), a customer approached and thanked us for bringing our store to their municipality. He explained that he was our customer in Cavite but had to return to his hometown. He added that he was a retired school teacher and what he needed was Zimvastatin to manage his cholesterol. While he could buy it from the local drugstore in Tanjay, the cost was P40. Generika Drugstore’s price for the same generic medicine was only P10. His savings of P30 allowed him to purchase rice. His wife, also a retired schoolteacher, needed the same medicine. Her savings of P30 could be used to buy fish. Through us, a major portion of their daily requirements was being met.”
Caring for the nation’s well-being has been the driving force of Generika Drugstore. “Let the results of good that you are doing fuel your passion.” Ted advised.
The ASEAN Inclusive Business Award is a reminder of how true Generika Drugstore remains to its purpose of providing access to quality affordable medicines with superior customer service.
About the ASEAN Business Advisory Council
Since its establishment by ASEAN Leaders in 2003, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) has been active in promoting public-private sector partnership and consultation to assist the integration of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2017.
In its efforts to bridge ASEAN governments with its private sectors, the Council launched the ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) in 2007 to give recognition to enterprises that have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the ASEAN economy.
About the ASEAN Business Awards
The Asean Business Awards was conceived to be the first of its kind in the region, with the dual objectives of recognizing outstanding ASEAN enterprises, and to serve as a platform to spread information concerning the ASEAN Economic Community. Since its inception in 2007, ABA has recognized more than 100 companies throughout the region that excel in the categories of: Growth, Employment, Innovation, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In 2015, however, ASEAN-BAC expanded the categories of ABA to include the Priority Integration Sectors (PIS) of ASEAN element, as well as recognizing the outstanding young entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs. In 2017, two new categories of Legacy and Inclusive Business were added.
About Generika Drugstore
Generika Drugstore is a member of Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc. (AC Health). It is a pioneer in the pharmaceutical-retail industry. It is the first recipient of the ASEAN Inclusive Business Award.