By Peter Egwuatu

Fidson Healthcare Plc, a quoted entity on the Health Care sub sector of the Nigerian Stock Exchange(NSE) has come to stay as a few indigenous company that has weathered the storm given the difficult operating environment over the years as it has recorded  an average growth rate of over 20 per cent in six years, says Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Fidelis Ayebae.

Fidelis Ayebae, is one of the nation’s few industrialists who attained great entrepreneurial skill after working in the banking sector for many years.

In an interview with Vanguard, Ayebae said, “ we have posting an average growth rate of over 20% per cent in the past six years. The company, driven by a crop of inspired young field personnel, managers and visionary management has grown phenomenally over the last 15 yeas.

According to him, “despite the keen competition in the industry, Ayebae’s the company has been able to carve a niche for itself, consistently dictating the pace in innovative marketing.

“Innovative products and an unflinching commitment to adding value to life have aided our ascension to prominence. It is with pride that we assert that we have over the years of our existence consistently affected and determined the clinical and pharmacological basis of treatment of ailments in Nigeria. . Fidson Healthcare Plc  has remained a prime source of novel and up to date medications for managing disease states.”

In its bid to positively affect the course of treatment in most therapeutic areas of medical practice, Ayebae said “ our company has been credited with many firsts. Fidson began a run of its trail blazing
accomplishments in 2001 when it pioneered the use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) in the treatment and management of gastric ulcer diseases.

Since then,  it has been breaking new grounds in the sector including being the  first company in sub-Saharan Africa to manufacture Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs, a feat it achieved in 2005.

“It is a feat that compelled the respect of the local industry and earned us recognition by the Federal Government of Nigeria and international press.”

Outside the challenge of infrastructure, Ayebae says that manufacturers also encounter other bottlenecks especially those occasioned by policies that hamper easy clearing of goods at ports.

Sometimes, a change in customs officers, he argues, brings about a new interpretation of the tariff regime. “In arguing your case you are incurring demurrage.  We have to deal with all these to be able to
compete favourably

But despite the odds, Fidson has continued to grow as well as lead in the area of innovation assisted by a well established research and development (R&D) department.Infusions are banned in the country and few companies that are manufacturing cannot meet the need.

It is this kind of void that Fidson Healthcare Plc wants to fill” he noted.
In 2008, Fidson Healthcare’s dominance of the industry was further emphasized by its being named winner of the prestigious Financial Standard (FS) pharmaceutical sector leader Award for 2008.

At the company’s new imposing state-of-the-art corporate office on Ikorodu Road in Lagos, Ayebae had  ensured that heavy investment was made in maintaining a standard gymnasium and fitness centre which is open to members of staff to take care of their physical and mental wellness.

In another interview with Vanguard, Olatunde Olanipekun, the company’s finance director said, “Fidson Healthcare Plc  has really come a long way, knowing that the pharmaceutical industry is a sector assailed from all quarters.

with our services. There is competition from everywhere; herbal homes, churches (miracles) and  fitness centres. All these erode margins. Menace of fake drugs, a development which the our executive and his management team feel has adversely affects the industry.
“ It is painful when you have a successful product and people take it abroad to copy and bring back as fake. It is a devastating experience. You spend your resources building a brand and someone just fakes it and dents your reputation. In terms of efficiency it does not work. It brings about suspicion and poor sales.”

“For Fidelis Ayebae and his management team, the future even looks brighter. The vision is to grow the company into a conglomerate competing with the likes of GSK and eventually becoming the biggest
pharmaceutical company not only in Nigeria but in the entire sub-region.

Along this line, Fidson Healthcare Plc  is already developing a biotech plant where it will be producing water for injections. It is a highly specialised area, requiring huge resources. The equipment is costly and it must be tailor made for you,” Olanipekun said.

Fidson Products Limited is subsidiary on the fast moving products genre which is also doing quite well with its array of unique products designed to meet the day-to-day needs of consumers. Such products
include cuddles, kitchen wipes, and tissue paper.

But it has not always been smooth sailing for the company, especially with its background of a humble beginning. In 1995 when the company began, it opened her doors as a local distributor of pharmaceutical products. Progressively, it moved into the importation of its own brand of finished medicines from where it grew into a formidable force in the nation’s  healthcare industry.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.