Sun | Dec 5, 2021

After losing Panadol, MDS hunting retail contracts

Published:Saturday | October 9, 2021 | 12:08 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter

Medical Disposables & Supplies Limited, MDS, a supplier of pharmaceuticals and medical products, is hunting retail distribution arrangements in the over-the-counter drugs market, having ended a deal with American drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, GSK, for Panadol and other products a year ago.

It’s eyeing supermarkets, wholesale operators and corner shops for the over-the-counter drugs, otherwise called OTCs – channels with which it is already familiar as a distributor of 14 consumer products.

In 2017, MDS struck a deal with GlaxoSmithKline to co-distribute Panadol, alongside local medical products distributor Cari-Med. MDS’ arrangement with GSK also included Andrews salts, Aquafresh toothpaste, Sensodyne toothpaste, and Voltaren gel. It paved the way for MDS’ entry into mainstream retail markets for the first time. Its area of operation up to then was mainly customers in the medical sector.

The retail arrangement with GSK ended in September last year, but the company still retains business related to GSK’s vaccine and pharmaceutical portfolios.

MDS now says it’s ready to expand sales channels and deepen market penetration of OTC items, particularly for brands it carries under partnership with multinational corporations.

“We definitely want to look at a few more over-the-counter items, not only look at it, but be positioned to capitalise on these opportunities should any of our global partners take this strategic direction. We are seeing hints of it already,” MDS Chief Executive Kurt Boothe told shareholders during the company’s annual general meeting on Tuesday.

Boothe is banking on MDS’s growth as a full-service distribution channel over the years to attract and secure new business, and to utilise the new contracts to compete for market share in the OTC arena.

“We are now better able to do so than we were up to two years ago,” he told the Financial Gleaner.

The family-operated medical products supplier primarily deals in pharmaceutical goods distributed to pharmacies, hospitals and medical centres across Jamaica.

CONSUMER PRODUCTS

MDS’ consumer goods, which was added as a business division in 2017, started with the distribution of GlaxoSmithKline consumer products like Panadol and was later expanded to include items such as confectionery and snacks, beauty and home-care products.

The company has otherwise been growing by acquisition, having bought a 60 per cent stake in Cornwall Medical & Dental Supplies Limited, based in Montego Bay.

Boothe, in updating shareholders on the acquisition, said MDS is in the middle of integrating Cornwall Medical with its business.

Despite operating in the healthcare sector during a health crisis, MDS’ financial performance has been mixed under the pandemic, but is currently on the upswing. For the quarter ended June, the company spun from a loss of $7.06 million to profit of $25 million. Revenue grew 33.8 per cent to $682.58 million.

MDS said its June first-quarter performance was directly linked to increased consumer demand for pharmaceutical and medical disposable items.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com