Lanzhou Foci Pharma's smart plants make its concentrated pills potent planet-wide
Gansu province-based Lanzhou Foci Pharmaceutical Co Ltd is becoming well known the world over for its concentrated pills, a unique type of traditional Chinese medicine or TCM for a range of diseases or conditions like asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, cataract, hypertension and hepatitis.
These pills have been exported to 28 countries and regions already, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil and Singapore, suggesting they are gaining traction in the global drug market for their efficacy.
The pills contain Chinese herbal extracts in concentrated form, so a very small amount is potent and can prove effective. The pill is much smaller and lighter than conventional medicines. Patients only need to take two such pills to achieve the same efficacy as five normal pills. Therefore, the concentrated pills are popular among foreign patients because they would like to take as few pills as possible.
Foci Pharma's concentrated pills are easy to swallow and absorb. They also have a relatively longer shelf life, company executives said.
"Overseas patients trust our products, because we use authentic ingredients, superb craftsmanship, to produce medicine that is effective and easy to take," said Sun Yu, general manager of Foci Pharma.
The brand was founded by Yu Huiguan in 1929. He invented the concentrated pill, and used then cutting-edge technology to improve TCM.
Two years later, Foci Pharma began to export its concentrated pills to Japan and Southeast Asian countries.
Historical records show that the concentrated pill proved popular soon after it was introduced in markets abroad－patients spoke highly of it, and demand outstripped supply.
Zhang Bihua, associate chief pharmacist of the department of pharmacy at Beijing Hospital, said: "Concentrated pills are small in size, so patients find them easy to take. The medicine is efficacious. In addition, concentrated pills are mold-proof."
The company now owns 25 production lines, which are all approved by drug regulators in countries like Australia, Japan and Ukraine.
Last year, the company moved its headquarters to an industrial park in Lanzhou New Area, where it has set up an intelligent or smart manufacturing plant and a digital workshop.
The company strives to improve production efficiency, lower production cost, enhance manufacturing environment, as well as increase the competitiveness and added value of TCM, company executives said.
It has also built a medical industrial park in Weiyuan, Gansu province, and took part in the nation's TCM standardization project, in an effort to build an enterprise with an industry-wide chain, to guarantee top quality of its medicines.
"As an international traditional Chinese medicine company, ever since our establishment, the company has been exporting traditional Chinese medicine to the outside world. During the export process, quality is always our priority. It's high quality that helps the company's brand to make an impact on the international market," Sun said.
For many years, the company has been focusing on research in TCM to make them conform to international standards. This effort has paid off: when the company entered the Brazilian market in 2017, it needed just two months to go through the registration of over 50 of its products.
To train local doctors, it established the TCM Development Center in Brazil. With the help of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products, Foci Pharma connected with Brazil's health department, to help promote TCM in Brazil.
"We actively explore new modes of trade in TCM services, and make efforts in disseminating TCM culture, establishing national standards for TCM, promoting TCM to enter other countries' public healthcare systems, establishing overseas TCM centers, training local TCM professionals, as well as establishing a commercial presence overseas.
"We aim at accelerating the process of TCM internalization and standardization, to make sure it develops in a healthy and sustainable manner overseas," Sun said.
In 2017, the company's sales revenue was 501.14 million yuan ($74.23 million), up almost 38 percent year-on-year. More than 28 million yuan of its revenue, or 5.6 percent, came from overseas, up more than 14 percent year-on-year.
In the same year, Foci Pharma was among the top 10 TCM exporters awarded by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products.