Building a World-Class Pharmaceutical Company



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Pharm. Tunde Oyeniran


Recently, two of my good clients expressed a strong desire to build an organisation that is similar to a leading indigenous publicly quoted company in Nigeria. One of them is quite young; the other has been around for some time, and if you ask me, pulling less than his weight. What was playing in my head was “do they know what it takes to build a world-class company?” This was what provided the impetus for this piece.

In today’s competitive business landscape, pharmaceutical organisations operating in Nigeria face unique challenges and opportunities. To build a world-class pharmaceutical organisation, business leaders and CEOs must adopt a set of imperatives that align with the dynamic nature of the industry and environment, with corresponding discipline, consistency, grit and determination.

This article explores the key imperatives and provides relevant examples and insights specific to the Nigerian pharmaceutical context. By understanding and implementing these imperatives, pharmaceutical companies can enhance their capabilities, effectiveness, profitability, longevity, drive innovation, and make significant contributions to healthcare advancements in the nation.

Here is my list of imperatives for building a world-class pharmaceutical organisation:

1.  Vision and purpose: A world-class pharmaceutical organisation must have a clear and inspiring vision and purpose. This involves defining the organisation’s long-term goals and the impact it seeks to make in the healthcare sector. For instance, a Nigerian pharmaceutical company could focus on providing affordable and accessible medications for prevalent diseases in the country, such as malaria and emergent chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes.

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By aligning the vision with the local healthcare needs, the organisation can direct its resources and efforts towards addressing critical health challenges and improving the well-being of the population.

2. Strategic thinking and planning: Pharmaceutical organisations in Nigeria need to develop strategic thinking and planning capabilities to navigate the complex and evolving market conditions. This includes conducting market research, analysing healthcare trends, and identifying growth opportunities. For example, a pharmaceutical company could conduct research to identify prevalent or new diseases and develop innovative products that cater specifically to the local population. And by anticipating future needs and aligning their strategies accordingly, organisations can gain a competitive edge and contribute to better healthcare outcomes.

3. Customer-centric approach: Adopting a customer-centric approach is essential for pharmaceutical organisations to understand and meet the unique needs of patients, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders. In Nigeria, where access to quality healthcare is a challenge, pharmaceutical companies can focus on developing affordable and locally relevant medications.

For instance, a company could develop paediatric formulations that are palatable and easy to administer, addressing the challenges of treating children in resource-constrained settings. By actively engaging with customers, collecting feedback, and tailoring their products and services accordingly, pharmaceutical organisations can build trust, enhance patient outcomes, and drive sustainable growth. It is noteworthy that healthcare professionals are, in fact our customers, especially for companies with significant PoM in their portfolio.

4. Continuous learning and agility: The pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria is characterised by rapidly evolving regulatory frameworks, changing disease profiles, and technological advancements. To remain competitive, organisations must foster a culture of agility and continuous learning. This involves encouraging employees to stay updated with the latest industry trends, attending training programmes, and fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

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For example, a pharmaceutical company could establish cross-functional teams to work on projects, leveraging diverse expertise and perspectives. By continuously learning, adapting, and innovating, organisations can overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and contribute to the development of locally relevant healthcare solutions.

5. Deliberate policies, processes and systems: Efficient and effective processes and systems are crucial for pharmaceutical organisations in Nigeria to optimise their operations, minimise waste, and deliver high-quality products and services. A pharmaceutical company could invest in advanced manufacturing equipment to improve production efficiency and reduce time-to-market for critical medications.

Also, policies, processes, and systems play a critical role in building a world-class pharmaceutical company’s sales and marketing department. By implementing effective policies, SOPs, and appropriate systems, pharmaceutical companies can optimise their sales and marketing efforts, achieve better customer engagement, and drive sustainable growth in a highly competitive industry.

By streamlining processes, organisations can enhance productivity, reduce costs, and ensure consistent product quality, ultimately benefiting patients and the healthcare system as a whole.

6. Empowerment and collaboration: Empowering employees and fostering collaboration is vital for building a world-class pharmaceutical organisation. In Nigeria , where talent retention can be a challenge, organisations must provide opportunities for growth, encourage innovation, and empower individuals to take ownership of their work. This includes promoting a culture of trust, delegating responsibilities, and recognising and rewarding achievements.

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For example, you could establish employee development programmes, mentorship initiatives, and innovation challenges to encourage employees to contribute their ideas and expertise. By empowering employees and fostering collaboration, organisations can tap into the collective intelligence of their workforce, drive innovation, and enhance organizational performance.

7. Pursuit of excellence: To be a world-class pharmaceutical organisation, a commitment to being and doing the best is paramount. This involves setting and implementing high standards for quality, safety, and efficacy in the development, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of medications. In Nigeria, pharmaceutical companies can strive to obtain international certifications, such as ISO 9001 or WHO GMP, to demonstrate their commitment to global quality standards.

By consistently delivering safe and effective medications, organizations can gain the trust of healthcare professionals, regulatory bodies, and patients, thus elevating their reputation and market standing. The question for everyone is “is this the best you can do?”

We will stop here now and continue next time.

Tunde Oyeniran, B Pharm. MBA, a Sales/Marketing Strategist, Selling/Sales Management Trainer and Personal Sales Coach is the President of the Society for Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing of Nigeria and Lead Consultant, Ekini White Tulip Consulting Limited, Lagos.  We deliver Training, Recruitment and Field Force Management Solutions .Feedback Channels: 080-2960-6103 (SMS/WhatsApp) / or check out 


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