In a candid interview, Howard Taylor tells Priyankur Mandav how input from pharmacists has helped the liquids manufacturer bring a range of products to market…
Two years ago, when Howard Taylor joined Rosemont Pharmaceuticals as general manager, the company was going through several years of declining sales. Within a year, however, he turned things around and delivered a record turnover.
This year, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, he led Rosemont’s carveout to becoming independent from the global consumer self-care giant, Perrigo-after seven years of enhanced product diversification between the two companies.
Founded in 1967, Rosemont is a speciality and generic prescription pharmaceutical company focussed on manufacturing and supplying oral liquid formulations. Its portfolio of over 130 oral liquid medicines includes over 70 licensed products which are sold into the UK as well as across Continental Europe, the US and the Middle East.
Although Rosemont products reach community pharmacy shelves via wholesalers or buying groups, Taylor believes pharmacists “are ultimately the decision maker for our business” and it is them who “get us as close as we possibly can to the end beneficiary” – the patient for whom the company makes its products in a suitable format.
The liquids manufacturer supplies its medicines directly to hospitals and to community pharmacies in special circumstances – such as when a patient needs an emergency supply.
But Taylor thinks the kind of service that pharmacists get from wholesalers is exceptional. “Pharmacies will probably get a better deal through their wholesalers because they have their loyalty schemes. We don’t have a direct loyalty scheme, so we can’t offer that.”
Having spent years working with pharmacies across Europe, he takes pharmacists rather seriously: he listens to their feedback and takes it on board wherever possible. He occasionally shadows community pharmacists to understand what the in-store work process is like, what the exact ergonomics of meeting patient needs are and how the pharmacy workforce manages to cope with growing demands – in real time.
“We want to make it as intuitive and straightforward as possible for the pharmacist who’s working on a busy day – they’ve got lots of things to worry about. We want to minimize the risk of ‘miss dispensation’,” Taylor says.
Asked what measures the company adopted to support pharmacy during the peak of the coronavirus crisis, he said: “Our first duty of care was to make sure that we continued to provide the same quality products at the same reliable service levels.
“We were facing unexpected rises in demand, particularly for paracetamol, which ordinarily we wouldn’t be set up to deliver. We had to organise additional shifts… Yet we didn’t want to put our other products at risk because we recognised that there are vulnerable patients out there that need their vital medication, whether for epilepsy or other life-threatening conditions.”
Pharmacy rose to the occasion
Taylor says “the incredibly hard working” community pharmacy sector rose to the challenges posed by the virus.
“They have coped incredibly well, given the pressures that they faced,” he says, giving a personal account of how when his own GP practice closed their doors, his local “community pharmacy, which is part of the same unit, remained open”.
“I think pharmacists have really stepped up. In hospitals they may have had a different
challenge, but in retail, the pressure has been huge – not just on the pharmacists but also on counter staff to provide the advice and support whilst being at risk themselves.
“This is indicative of the type of service that pharmacists have, and increasingly provide, in terms of healthcare provision. And Covid-19 has really tested it, but they have risen to the occasion.”
Taylor believes the pandemic experience has demonstrated that there is plenty of room within the healthcare sector for an expanded role for community pharmacy in the UK, in quite the same way they have in some European countries.
Research he commissioned whilst in a previous role found ‘the pharmacist’ to be the most trusted professional in Europe – “more trusted than a doctor and more trusted than a teacher.”
“That’s because they not only have the expertise but also the familiarity with people to build trust,” he says.
He concedes that while trust is something very hard to quantify, “it can be converted into growth,” even here in the UK.
“Pharmacists have an access point in the front of stores.
The German model
“What I see is a split model evolving, firstly within stores, but then again, this is something that I experienced working with pharmacies in Munich, where you have a highly service orientated, let’s call it a shop, where you have both consumer and prescription-based medicines. You can think of those two together – there is an opportunity for pharmacy owners to think of their business as a whole rather than as separate pieces.
“And then the other element and dimension worth talking about is the home service, and I think pharmacists themselves can also be part of that, and I think they can go even above and beyond that.”
When asked what he makes of the growing interest of the retail giant Amazon in pharmacy, Taylor says there will be room for both online and bricks and mortar pharmacies to grow side by side.
“Amazon is purely transactional. It provides a niche to some people, and I think it will continue to grow because it meets the needs of certain people. At the same time, I don’t think it can replace what is available through a professional bricks and mortar pharmacist, that individual attention and customisation.
“I actually see both sectors having space to grow.”
Highly rated for his strategic thinking and business nous, Taylor has been with the industry for over 30 years since starting off as a sales representative at Procter and Gamble (P&G) in the late 80s, after an MA Honours in Chemistry from Oxford University.
Connect and develop
He was instrumental in completing the carve-out of Rosemont Pharmaceuticals from Perrigo with the backing of Private Equity firm Inflexion PE Partners in June.
Having had vast operational experience and having led a successful OTC joint venture between P&G Healthcare and TEVA Pharmaceuticals in Western Europe, Taylor is looking to introduce a “connect and develop” model as a new strategic direction for his Leeds based company.
It’s based on identifying promising ideas and then collaborating with other organisations and individuals around the world before marrying them with Rosemont’s core strengths – its strong R&D, manufacturing, marketing and purchasing capabilities – in order to create
better and cost-effective products faster, with a clear sense of what the needs of the market are.
Benefiting from a strong research and development team, the company has built a track record of successful new product launches.Taylor believes the new investment from Inflexion has given the company a big boost to further expand its diverse product pipeline.
“Rather than simply being oral liquids, we’re not only looking to develop our own capability but also to work with new partners to meet the needs of patients with swallowing difficulties. There could be alternative galenic forms that are not tablets, but not necessarily liquids either, or liquids in a simple teaspoon.
“There’s a huge opportunity for us to use our capabilities in partnership with other companies to bring yet more medicines to patients that can’t swallow. That’s our committed mission.”
In the months and years ahead, he would also like Rosemont to focus increasingly on paediatrics, because “we recognise that’s a particularly vulnerable patient group that struggle with tablets and liquids offer them a particular benefit. That’s an area where we can add a lot of value.”
Earlier this year, Rosemont was the first company ever to launch a licensed liquid format for Omeprazole, fulfilling a previously unmet need “for both patients and healthcare professionals.”
“What we’re looking to do is take that concept and develop it further. That gives us a whole new area of molecules that previously had not been available to patients as a licensed liquid.
“Our aspiration is to launch more of those products in the future, to be first to market, which I think is great for patient, it’s great for pharmacy, but it’s also great for us.”
Enjoying about a quarter of the share, Rosemont is a clear market leader in the UK, in the niche it operates in and increasingly the company is being recognised globally as a leader and innovator in the field of liquid medicines, a market which many industry insiders say has highly attractive long-term growth potential.
“I think aspirationally I’d like to get closer to a third of the market. But more importantly, for me it’s about being present in more sectors and being able to offer more products in more countries. It’s about offering more choices to our patients rather than incrementally increasing our market share.” Taylor says.
In the short term, he would like to see to it that Rosemont quickly adjusts to being an independent company again, having just been left without the infrastructure of a large corporation that it has just departed from.
“The next step will be to expand in oral liquids, which is what we’re famous for, both domestically in the UK – bringing more products to the market, but also internationally. There’s a huge expanse of opportunity that we can move into.
In the longer term, Taylor sees Rosemont, a well established and respected supplier in the pharmaceutical industry, becoming a much bigger company with a broad array of products and operating on a much bigger global footing.
“But still true to our mission of helping patients with swallowing difficulties.”