Duopharma Biotech leads the way to maintain its position as the leading halal and sustainable pharmaceutical company in the country
BY KHIRTINI K KUMARAN
The world and domestic halal market for pharmaceuticals offers immense opportunities.
The State of Global Islamic Economy Report 2020/2021 stated that Muslim consumer spending on pharmaceuticals is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.3 per cent from 2019 to reach US$105 billion by 2024.
Halal pharmaceuticals have also been identified as one of the promoted sectors by the Malaysian government to drive growth in the Malaysian Halal Economy in its Halal Industry Master Plan 2030 (HIMP 2030).
The country’s largest pharmaceutical company Duopharma Biotech Berhad, which is listed on the main board of Bursa Malaysia, is well-positioned to leverage this growth. It has a long-standing commitment to producing halal pharmaceutical products that are safe, effective, of high quality and hygienic.
In fact, Duopharma Biotech is the first halal pharmaceutical manufacturer in the world. It played a pioneering role in the research and development (R&D) and production of halal pharmaceuticals and is firmly anchored in its position as a market leader.
The company’s halal commitment starts with good governance from the Top Management and Halal Committee at the board level throughout the company until the produced product reaches the consumers and patients.
Its dynamic board is led by healthcare industry leaders and Chairman Tan Sri Siti Sa’diah Sh Bakir and Group Managing Director Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar. Its senior management team is led by Chief Operating Officer, Wan Amir-Jeffery Wan Abdul Majid.
The company’s halal commitment is part of its fardh kifayah, a communal obligation that must be discharged for the community to prosper. The company upholds its commitment to producing halal pharmaceutical products that are:
- Safe for consumption and use;
- Assured of effectiveness;
- High-quality standards of ingredients or materials and production; and
- Manufactured hygienically.
Therefore, the company’s halal policy embraces the principle of a holistic approach with “Halal Built-In, Not Tested For” practice.
It is a comprehensive method to ensure manufacturing facilities are fully halal compliant. Every step of the way, which includes selecting products, technology, raw materials, packaging, logistics, and warehousing to the consumers, adheres to the Malaysian Standard MS 2424 Halal pharmaceuticals – General requirements (First revision).
Its commitment to developing products that are assured halal from start to finish eliminates any need for testing as the process of determining halal is built in.
Duopharma Biotech’s halal journey
Beginning in 1998, Duopharma Biotech integrated Halal with its Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) requirement, and all production lines were dedicated to producing halal pharmaceuticals.
A year later, Duopharma Biotech became the first pharmaceutical company to receive the Halal Malaysia Certification from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) for its range of supplements.
Duopharma Biotech achieved another key milestone, in early 2017, as the first pharmaceutical manufacturer to attain Halal Malaysia certification for prescription medicines.
The company currently offers over 100 halal-certified over-the-counter (OTC) medicines such as painkillers or analgesics, eye drops, cough mixtures, ointments for wounds/cuts/bruises, and creams for rash/itchiness, and many more. Its offerings are available in over 30 countries.
In 2008, the company organised the first Halal Pharmaceuticals knowledge-sharing seminar for its suppliers and stakeholders.
The company’s Halal and Government Relations Department also organises awareness and training sessions annually to keep employees updated on Malaysia’s halal ecosystem and especially on progress in the development of halal pharmaceuticals.
A well-recognised thought leader
In addition, Duopharma Biotech is also active in its Halal Pharmapreneur programme, which aims to provide better opportunities for entrepreneurs in the halal space. The company also invested in Naluri for its digital health wellness, SCM LifeScience for regenerative medicines as well as in AZT for neurodegenerative therapies.
The Halal Committee, established in 2018, provides stewardship to the company’s Halal Pharmaceutical Agenda (HPA). It also comprises initiatives throughout the company’s business value chain ranging from thought leadership, strengthening resources and capabilities, leading halal certification, R&D, and expanding market segment.
It’s duty includes providing an independent review of the effectiveness and efficiency of the Group’s halal initiatives and recommending the relevant interventions that enable the Group to strengthen its position as the halal pharmaceutical industry’s thought and market leader.
It continues strengthening its halal pharmaceutical thought leadership by participating in key platforms.
In 2021, Duopharma Biotech was involved in two separate sessions at the World Halal Business Conference (WHBC 2021) Webinar hosted by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and organised by HDC.
The company is dedicated to growing its presence in the halal pharmaceutical space in Malaysia and worldwide. It remains committed to leading the way for the halal pharmaceutical industry in Malaysia, regionally and globally.
It actively participates in various committees and task forces to develop sound halal governance and economy.
It collaborates closely with several halal regulatory organisations such as the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM), HDC, and the Department of Standards Malaysia. It was also part of the Technical Committee that developed the world’s first halal standard, MS 2424 Halal Pharmaceuticals – General requirements (First revision).
Achievements and wide recognition
The company’s active involvement and achievements in halal and sustainable pharmaceuticals are widely recognised in the industry.
Duopharma Biotech has earned several awards over the years for its halal pharmaceutical initiatives and development, including;
- Halal Journal Award for Best Corporate Responsibility at the World Halal Forum (2009);
- Malaysia Excellence Award for Best Halal Product at International Tourism and Halal Week 2009;
- Halal Recognition Award at the World Halal Research Summit 2011;
- Halal Excellence Award at the World Halal Conference 2015;
- Global Islamic Economy Award under Food & Health Category at Global Islamic Economy Summit 2015;
- Halal Healthcare Excellence Award at the World Halal Excellence Award 2021; and
- Frost & Sullivan Malaysia Excellence Awards Halal Pharmaceutical Company of the Year (2017, 2018 and 2019).
The company has also been recognised for its sustainability commitment and practices. It was selected overall winner at the Sustainable Business Awards Malaysia (SBA) 2020/21 under the Large Organisation Category, identifying it as Malaysia’s leading organisation for sustainability practices.
Duopharma Biotech took home five trophies in the categories of “Business Ethics & Responsibility”, “Stakeholder Management”, and “UN Sustainable Development Goals”, as well as receiving the Significant Achievement award in the “Water Management” and “Waste Productivity & Materiality” categories.
The company’s shares have an added attraction among investors as they have been listed on Bursa Malaysia’s FTSE4GOOD Index since June 2020 and awarded the Prime Minister’s Hibiscus Award for Notable Achievement in its environmental performance. – The Health
Sustainability in operations and business
As halal is a philosophy value of integrity and sustainability, Duopharma Biotech Bhd’s halal policy is not limited to just product manufacturing. It extends to instilling sustainability values across the business operations with the company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies.
Duopharma Biotech officially commenced its ESG journey in 2016 and has aligned its environmental pledges within its ESG Roadmap with the government’s environmental targets and the United Nations Sustainable Goals.
The company has established structures and systems to create a high level of awareness among all personnel and to closely align its business strategies with its ESG strategies and goals.
It’s board of directors leads sustainability initiatives, guided by the Risk Management and Sustainability Committee. The Sustainability Department is led by health and safety experts and a sustainability specialist who reports to the Chief Manufacturing Officer.
Duopharma Biotech’s ESG focus areas are distributed across the three pillars of Environment, Social and Governance; Climate Performance, Sustainable Supply Chain, Access to Medicine, Diversity & Inclusion and Governance.
The company aims to reduce emissions and environmental impact and improve the sustainability of the manufacturing process and materials. Duopharma has maintained and improved its ability to provide consumers and patients with access to medicines and therapies.
At the same time, it has strengthened team diversity to promote more inclusive perspectives and a refined management system and corporate culture.
For the environment pillar within the ESG strategy, the company targets Climate Performance as a key focus area, aiming to reduce and minimise activities contributing to an adverse climate impact.
Duopharma Biotech aspires to achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2030, Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 and replace 50 per cent of single use plastics with biodegradable plastics within its operations by 2026 with an emphasis on new technology and digitalisation to reduce emissions more efficiently.
It also recently signed a Collaboration Agreement with a US-based food tech company The Live Green Co, to explore the use of plant ingredients and technology to replace animal, synthetic and ultra-processed ingredients to meet consumer demand for more sustainable wellness foods and pharmaceuticals.
Manufacturing optimisation is part of Duopharma’s Biotech’s ESG initiative. The decision to replace existing ingredients with plant alternatives is essential in realising its Climate Performance goal of reducing greenhouse gases throughout its supply chain.
The collaboration will involve; the development of plant-based pharmaceutical products by substituting animal-based or synthetic ingredients; and speciality product development through R&D collaboration to create a new range of plant-only functional foods catering for the unmet need of patients with special dietary requirements. – The Health