Duopharma Biotech to widen specialty products after strong 1Q showing

by MARK RAO / graphic by TMR

DUOPHARMA Biotech Bhd plans to expand its specialty products and meet the rising healthcare demand in the country, but the pharmaceutical company warns that its profit could be dented by the rising US dollar.

“We will sharpen our focus to deepen and widen the introduction of specialty products as one of the group’s key strategies moving forward to create a pool of niche products,” its group MD Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar said in a statement on Tuesday.

The pharmaceutical manufacturer and retailer recently launched Erysaa in the market, an Erythropoietin-based product for the treatment of anaemia, acute anaemia in kidney dialysis, anaemia due to anti-cancer chemotherapy and for patients requiring blood transfusion.

He said the higher allocation of RM29 billion for health services in Malaysia for 2019 presents opportunities for the company with specialty products.

The company’s net profit grew 35.8% year-on-year to RM14.46 million for the first quarter ended March 31 this year (1Q19), fuelled by higher revenue and stronger demand from the private and public healthcare segments.

He said the 1Q19 performance, which saw revenue growing by 12.8% to RM150.39 million, reflected the increase in demand including the government’s higher budget for health services this year.

However, the company warned about the the strengthening of the US dollar as it will negatively impact production and other operational costs.

“It is expected to put pressure on manufacturing margin and, hence, our profit thereof,” the company said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia.

The ringgit continued to weaken, closing Tuesday’s trade at RM4.1862 against the greenback. The local unit had lost 1.27% of its value this year alone against the US dollar, triggering worries of higher import costs for raw materials.

Despite the challenges, Duopharma Biotech expects to achieve satisfactory results for its fiscal year ending Dec 31 this year, barring unforeseen circumstances.

The pharmaceutical group was previously listed as CCM Duopharma Biotech Bhd, but changed its name shortly after demerging from its parent company, Chemical Co of Malaysia Bhd, back in December 2017.