“Switzerland means research and innovation, which determine the products of tomorrow”
- Mr. Karim Gebara
Tell us the story of your company in Lebanon.
Omnipharma is part of a larger Group operating in the Levant region since the 1940’s.
The Lebanese branch was established in 1954 when the company started a long-lasting relationship with the prestigious Swiss pharmaceutical laboratory, F. Hoffman Roche.
In 1975 the company was restructured and changed its name to Omnipharma. It survived 15 years of civil war thanks to the resilience of its owners and employees.
In 1983, we obtained the representation of ICI pharmaceuticals, which became Zeneca 10 years later, and AstraZeneca further to the merger between Astra and Zeneca.
Today we are among the largest distributors of pharmaceutical products in the country. We enjoy a strong position in the market and represent major companies such as F. Hoffman Roche, AstraZeneca and Meda among others.
How has it been to deal with the Swiss as representatives?
The Swiss adopt the principles of fairness and transparency in dealing with us and also ethics. They also have the capacity for keeping a balance between being structured and staying efficient.
They hold seminars, workshops, training, and conferences to sensitize us to the work culture, the standards and procedures.
In some trainings, everyone is required to attend, including the janitor! This imparts the culture that everyone should be involved in quality control. This is something in which Roche is a leader, and it has very high standards when it comes to business processes and quality control.
Is Lebanon an important market for you? Why?
Lebanon is an important market for health care because here both the patient and the healthcare professional have a high level of awareness about the specific products.
You would be surprised how much this market appreciates value, innovation, precision, and quality! People are not looking for the cheap version. Otherwise, nothing Swiss will have a market in Lebanon. This market is more quality-oriented rather than price-oriented.
We import and distribute high value-added medicines from leading pharmaceutical companies; we are a perfect fit for the needs of this market.
Despite Lebanon being a small market and despite the ongoing instability in the country, what makes your company stay here?
Lebanon is our country. It is the place that matters the most for us in this world.
Although the country’s current situation is very difficult and the regional instability is taking its toll on the economy; we need to adapt and manage the risks accordingly.
After all, our company remained active despite decades of turbulence throughout its lifetime.
We are determined to see it growing for decades to come.
Why do you think people trust Swiss products?
Switzerland means quality, reliability and precision. Those are key elements to create a trustworthy connection with a brand. Switzerland also means research and innovation, which determine the products of tomorrow.
A brand cannot last if does not offer the promise of better products for the future.
This explains the strong connection of the “Swiss” brand with several successive generations without fading with time.
Finally Switzerland means professionalism; ethics and values. Companies could have the best products in the world, but they can only succeed if they carry out their business in a way that fulfills the ideals of their customers. The “Swiss” brand has always been associated with the highest levels of ethics.