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“We will bring down the prices of all pharmaceutical products”

Yhannish Jaggeshar, Managing Director, MC BIOTECH
Yhannish Jaggeshar, Managing Director, MC BIOTECH

MC BIOTECH is the story of an ambitious young professional who decided to manufacture ‘Made in Moris’ medicines and position himself as a supplier on the market. Is that a good summary?

The story actually goes back to 2015. I met Dr. Yusuf Hamied (see sidebar), the owner of CIPLA in India, and he introduced me to the world of pharma. Every time I visited India, he would arrange tours of his factories. Today, he has more than 40 manufacturing sites.

In 2015, he spent a few days in Mauritius at a time when I was considering leaving the island. He said, “Why do you want to move? There are opportunities here in the pharma sector. You need to do something for Mauritius and use it as a platform to access Africa.

That’s how I founded MC BIOTECH in 2020. I’ve been gathering data on the pharmaceutical sector since then, knowing that this is the direction I wanted to take. In February 2023, with the support of my family and partners, we had the opportunity to acquire Ajanta Pharma, which wasn’t just by chance. There were circumstances. Ajanta Pharma wanted to close, then COVID happened, and opportunities arose. It changed everything. But our goal was always to do something in Mauritius and manufacture here.

All our products start with ‘Mo,’ which is Mauritian slang. For example, Mopara contains paracetamol, and Momet contains metformin. Giving them a Mauritian identity reflects our commitment to the local manufacturing community. We have the ‘Made in Moris’ label, and our goal is to continue adding value to this movement, encouraging local consumption and promoting local products.


The pricing of medicines and pharmaceutical products has been a hot topic recently. How will you contribute to the market in terms of drug prices?

We will offer pharmaceutical products that can easily compete with any imported generics, thus helping to lower prices. We will bring down the prices of all pharmaceutical products.


What about the quality?

There will never be any compromise on quality. Having studied biotechnology in England and Malaysia, and worked for over ten years in reputed Mauritian companies, I have always upheld the highest standards. This commitment to quality will continue unchanged.


What about your partnership with the Mauritius Institute of Biotechnology Limited (MIBL)?

MIBL serves as a showcase. It’s good to have an entity promoting biotechnology and pharma in Mauritius. This wasn’t the case before.

Secondly, we want to promote this sector to eventually become an economic pillar. Having a one-stop-shop that can market Mauritius for this purpose is interesting.

With Rattan Gujadhur as CEO, who is a technical person with a solid background, he understands what he’s selling. When addressing a problem which others will face, he understands the repercussions on operations in a way that others might not.

MIBL also offers financial support as our equity partner. The funds have been earmarked to upgrade the factory, enhance production capacity, address regulatory aspects, and this will contribute to expand into new markets.

Our current focus is to leverage MIBL’s investments to attain WHO GMP standards. This strategic move will elevate our factory to higher standards, and enable our products to enter more regulated markets.


How do you measure the country’s ambition regarding the pharmaceutical sector?

I believe it’s highly achievable, especially considering the significant growth of many large Indian companies. They are now diversifying their objectives and adjusting strategies. Previously, India was primarily known for its generic market, focusing mainly on Africa. However, there has been a paradigm shift. Numerous Indian factories are now targeting more regulated markets such as America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

Many Indian companies are changing strategies, which will eventually create demand. We need to position ourselves well from the start, implementing controls and processes without compromising. What we produce must be comparable to branded products, with the highest quality.


Could the biopharma sector become a pillar for Mauritius in the future?

In the long term, yes. If we want to create an industry, we should focus on the generic market and seize opportunities, not just in Africa, but also in South America. India currently produces a lot for South America. If we can produce at the same or more competitive prices, why not access those markets? The market is vast.

We also need to focus on nearby opportunities. Africa is immense in terms of potential. For example, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, and Rwanda are large markets with enormous opportunities. All medical and pharmaceutical imports to Zambia amount to USD 408 million. This represents huge opportunities, whether in pharma, biomedical devices, or other areas.

To establish this sector as a cornerstone of our economy, we require more participants, not solely myself. The presence of additional manufacturers producing pharmaceutical goods would be beneficial and contribute to the industry’s growth.


Tell us about your team and the technology in place.

We are currently a small team of eight, with just one expatriate member for very specific purposes. According to Mauritian regulations, we require someone with a minimum of 10 years of manufacturing experience, and ours is from India. Locally, finding a pharmacist with such extensive manufacturing experience poses a challenge.

Our technology is exceptional. We’ve made significant investments in high-quality equipment sourced from reputable Indian companies. In terms of equipment and technology, we are on par with other generic manufacturers of similar calibre.


How do you anticipate competition?

The market is expansive and inclusive, offering immense opportunities. If I stop producing Paracetamol tomorrow and switch to Metformin or Vildagliptin, the market is still there. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to the Mauritian territory. There are so many opportunities elsewhere as well. Today, if we want to change the manufacturing sector and diversify the economy, we need to provide more incentives to promote SMEs.

Currently, printing on the foil of medicines is done abroad. This is an opportunity for Mauritian printers. We can get the blank foil and have someone specialized in printing. Creating another sector will create additional jobs for everyone.

The sector improves with more factories. I see another company as a partner, not a rival. More players mean better market regulation.


Do you plan to welcome other investors into your shareholding?

No. We want to change the concept. We plan to grow organically, and then make acquisitions, instead of selling our shares. There must be a Mauritian drive for growth.


What is your medium-term ambition?

Today marks a historic moment as we receive our first shipment of paracetamol (Editor’s note: the interview was conducted last Thursday). This signifies the beginning of our journey towards producing medicines and achieving our goals.

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