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Soft gel means hard cash as Douglas diversifies

This article was published on 20 November 2013

Fast growing Kiwi pharmaceuticals exporter Douglas Pharmaceuticals is set to expand its global reach and revenues further, after government R&D funding helped it develop an innovative new product range that boosts its competitive advantage on the world stage.

Around $2.5 million in R&D funding from Callaghan Innovation has enabled Douglas, New Zealand’s largest developer and manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals, to establish a new manufacturing platform for high potency steroidal and cancer treatments in the more convenient soft gel capsule form, something relatively few pharmaceutical manufacturers are able to do globally.

As a result, Douglas has produced a range of promising new generic products - including Dutasteride, for benign prostrate hyperplasia, and Paricalcitol for renal failure - in soft gel form. These have led to a range of development, manufacture, licence, supply and marketing agreements with major customers in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and New Zealand. Subject to regulatory clearance, the products are set to launch in these markets in the near future after their patents have expired. 

“The level of interest in pharmaceutical soft gelatine capsules gives us confidence that development of this technology at Douglas was well worth the effort,” Douglas R&D Director Peter Surman says.  

Douglas aims to grow revenue from around $150m  today to  $250m by 2020 and Surman predicts the export of prescription soft gelatin capsule products will be responsible for a significant portion of that growth.

“R&D investment in the pharmaceutical domain is essential to continually develop new products in an efficient manner to meet the demands of a marketplace that is becoming more and more competitive,” he says

Callaghan Innovation R&D Grants Manager Ross Baker says the goal of R&D co-funding is enabling companies such as Douglas to create new technology platforms that lead to revenue growth across a number of different products. “Our investment is about returning dollars to the economy by growing export businesses.”