February 18, 2013 - CLAUDE TURCOTTE - Le Devoir
JAMP Pharma, a pharmaceutical SME that has experienced very rapid growth under the direction of Louis Pilon
While pharmaceutical companies saw the end of patents for a number of their medications, a small Quebec entrepreneur understood the golden opportunity that stood before him. In 2006 with already more than 15 years of experience as a sales representative and distributor in pharmaceutical companies, Louis Pilon bought JAMP Pharma, an SME in British Columbia that was developing a few products, several in particular that interested him.
And how! Since then, Louis Pilon has purchased at least four other companies and developed many products, both generic drugs as well as over-the-counter products available in pharmacy. He offers a very wide range of products. There is the famous Wampole tonic which was the first pharmaceutical trademark in Canada in 1893. It proved very popular with Quebec families at least until the end of World War II. In 2007, Mr. Pilon acquired the Wampole company and updated its products. He recently created Wampole International, a subsidiary to sell products to the US and the Middle East, before adding generic products and other innovative products. Its portfolio also includes the Valda lozenge that enjoyed great popularity here and in Europe where it originated. Mr. Pilon decided to rejuvenate it two years ago by acquiring the trademark for Canada.
Among JAMP Pharma’s recent innovations, the most surprising is probably the glove that has microspheres inside that release the exact amount of cream that the wearer’s skin requires. It is, of course, a so called “smart” technology that can be used between 20 and 40 times and sells for $30 a pair. This is a high-quality product.
In short, Mr. Pilon’s company currently holds formulations for close to 120 molecules and offers 450 various products, of which 250 are generic drugs and 200 over-the-counter products. Of them, there is a vitamin that tastes like maple. A subtle taste was added so that people would know where the vitamin came from when they are outside the country. “We are the company that launched the most generic drugs in the last two years. It will be harder to do so in the future as there are fewer patented products,” he states.
TO COUNTER THE SHORTAGE OF MEDICATION IN HOSPITALS
Despite this, 2012 was a very active year. There was the association between the Indian firm Strides Arcolab that created Agila-JAMP, a joint venture established for the intellectual co-ownership of formulas for about fifty injectable products. Distribution in the hospital and pharmacy markets is done by JAMP Pharma which remains fully owned by Mr. Pilon. The end of this partnership coincided with the shortage of injectable products in Canadian hospitals.
“There were few players and we came onto the market with quality medications at competitive prices. We understood the market’s needs and the importance of having other players to secure supply,” states Mr. Pilon. He added that he explained to hospital purchasing groups the importance of having a secondary source of supply. “In Canada, there are two groups that control about 90% of the market. This is one of the causes of the shortage of injectable medication. There are very few players and they contract to a single company. It’s a monopoly and if this company has trouble manufacturing, there isn’t anyone who is prepared to take over.”
Still in 2013, there were acquisitions of Leblanc assets (natural products, some that helped in weight loss), and of its Triolax brand, then CuraPhyte, a firm of natural products for the treatment of chronic pain, and finally, that of Laboratoire Suisse, a company that has existed for more than 25 years. Established in Brossard, it is one of the only Quebec companies that offers products in glass vials. In addition, Opiela, a beauty product developed in Boucherville for hands and feet, was recently launched. The movement continues in 2013 since a new subsidiary that was just created will be group together branded products for its medical clientele. Among the products of this group, there is already SoluCAL that is mostly for children who are fighting deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D.
In short, JAMP Pharma can meet the needs in several areas. Mr. Pilon remarks, “We want to launch 100 new products in the next two years. We reinvest almost all of our resources in product development.” He is pleased to have been able to hire very competent scientists who were released from pharmaceutical companies during downsizing of their research activities. JAMP Pharma also occasionally sub-contracts from research centres to develop specific products.
To reach its clientele, the company has a team of 30 representatives who work in all provinces across Canada. However, Quebec still remains its main market with 50% of its share of revenues.
Mr. Pilon is the company’s sole stockholder and expects to remain so, even in sustained growth, whether through its organic development or acquisition. “We have the financial resources to do it. We will stay private for the next several years. I’m not looking for financial partners. I really like being the master of my destiny,” affirms the man now in his mid-forties. One of his greatest sources of pride is having brought a company to Quebec and created jobs – not only for the hundred or so people at his company, but for almost the same number who work for his sub-contractors, as much in research as in manufacturing of medication or other products.