Fernando Jarquin, Guatemala’s Pharmaceutical Innovator and Entrepreneur, Talks Business

One of Guatemala’s largest distributor of pharmaceuticals, Fernando Jarquin, talked to Latin Business Daily about his business history, current projects, and roadmap to the future.

How would you characterize what you do for a living?

I would say I’m a businessman who since the beginning of my professional career has dedicated myself to the import, distribution and sale of pharmaceutical products to public and private sector clients, pharmacies and clinics. I’m relatively well-known within the country. I’d like to think of myself as a healthcare entrepreneur.

Tell us a little about your personal background.

I was born in Guatemala City in February 1965. My parents, Roberto Jarquin Richeme and Isabel Pira Arrivillaga de Jarquín, grew up and were raised in Tecpán Guatemala, where their families were established in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Prior to entering the business world, what was your educational background?

In 1983, I graduated from Liceo Guatemala High School in Guatemala City. After high school I attended the Rafael Landivar University to study International Trade and Marketing.

What was your first job in business?

When I was only 19 years old, in 1984, I started to work as a sales representative for Concorde Line, a shipping company. That experience gave me a lot of opportunity working with high-level executives in different companies in Guatemala, an experience that became very useful as I created my own businesses in other markets.

AGEFINSA is one of your companies. How and why did you launch the company?

I launched Agencia Farmacéutica Internacional, S.A. (“AGEFINSA”) in Guatemala City in February 1995.AGEFINSA ventured into this market because we identified processes that were necessary to supply and innovate in this industry, so me and my team based on those opportunities, created an agile and effective company, focusing on the service of our customers and commercializing high-quality products.

What is special or innovative about AGEFINSA?

The company has a complete range of pharmaceutical products from recognizedpharmaceutical companies worldwide. We also distribute “orphan” products, meaning products needed in the market but which lack a local representative. Thus, we cover a need to improve the quality of life of patients.

What types of medicine does AGEFINSA distribute?

The business units focus on the following specialties: Pediatrics, Neonatology, Gynecology, Surgery, Pneumology, ENT Specialist, Neurology, Private Hospitals, Pharmacies, General Medicine, Traumatology, Public Hospitals, Oncology, Hematology, Nephrology, Nutrition and Pediatrics Specialties.

How do you reach your customers?

A team of experienced “medical representatives” promote our products. We train them to offer physicians advice depending on the needs of their patients. Medical representatives go through continuous training during their career.

What are your workforce and facilities like?

AGEFINSA has 110 employees. Thirty-three of those employees work on our sales team. While people are our most important resource, we also have vehicles, two separate offices and warehouses, equipment to maintain the cold chain for certain medications, and an administrative center. We’re currently in the process of expanding and remodeling. In addition to our sales force, we have an Administrative, IT, Quality Assurance (QA), Finance, Logistic and Operations, and Regulatory departments.

Guatemala has a public health care system. How does that affect how you do business?

In order to bid and sell through the public sector, we participate in open, public and transparent tenders organized by public hospitals and by the country’s Social Security Institute. Many of our sales have been made through tenders and bids (now held by GUATECOMPRAS ) for a period of 23 years. Some of these tenders and bids for the Social Security are now a processed through the United Nations Office for Project Services - UNOPS (UNOPS is a United Nations entity that provides project management services).

What would you say is your business’ competitive advantage?

One of our key competitive advantages is that we represent pharmaceutical labs of recognized international prestige. These labs are world leaders in research and innovation of their products. The labs comply with international standards and certifications. They are audited by the health authorities of the countries where the manufacturing sites are located, and they comply with high standards of production. They also come with certificates of analysis and quality control. As such, these products are able to comply with the requirements and regulations of the Central American Technical Regulations and Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance. 

You mentioned that you have a Quality Assurance (QA) department. How does AGEFINSA ensure top quality of its pharmaceutical products?

Currently, AGEFINSA has a Quality Assurance Department that handles the verification of top quality products. We are currently working in the implementation process to certify our company in the ISO 9001:2015 standard, as well as in processes for quality which involve the Department of Regulatory Affairs and Pharmacovigilance.

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