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Small Touches, Big Heart

In the 1990s, Nik Kotecha founded a pharmaceutical company, which today is based in Loughborough, UK, called Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Kotecha had always enjoyed giving back and helping others, so one of the aims of the business was to make a difference to the developing world by exporting high-quality medicines.

“In the 1990s, there were few regulations in developing countries and most medicinal products came from the Far East or local manufacturers. These products were competitively priced and affordable for local populations, but they weren’t always made to the highest quality standards,” explains Kotecha. “We saw a niche for an export business as there was a great need and demand for high quality medicines in developing countries. The UK is well known for its medicines and high standards, and the business model of Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd is built around ‘Brand UK’ and the quality this represents.”

Today, the lion’s share of Morningside’s business lies in the UK market – the company conducts its own R&D and manufacturing, and its portfolio includes Morningside licensed medicines and generics for a range of different medical conditions and diseases affecting both developed and developing nations. The company’s biggest customer is the UK’s National Health Service. Despite this, the company remains committed to the developing world and has contracts with a number of non-governmental organizations, including UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, the World Health Organization and The Red Cross.

“Working with aid agencies is a personal passion. I have traveled extensively and seen the incredible work these agencies do. At Morningside, we have a department and distribution centre just for aid and we work incredibly hard to make sure agencies get what they need in the necessary timelines,” says Kotecha. “It’s very important in this business to be responsive. During the Ebola crisis, which developed very rapidly, we supplied more than 10 million examination and surgical gloves and numerous numbers of pallets of medicines – and we had to do so very quickly. When supplying products, it’s important to be thorough with the documentation required for export (easily overlooked). Finally, for medicines, there is temperature control and safe storage to consider, which is a significant challenge in countries that lack infrastructure.”

Morningside’s aid to developing countries is mainly built on business contracts rather than donations. Kotecha says that donations of vaccines and other medicines definitely have a place, but there is also a need for steady business contracts so that agencies can get exactly what they need when they need it. In addition, the company has gotten involved in healthcare summits. In April 2017, Morningside sponsored the East African Healthcare Summit, where ministers of health from countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya attended to discuss the challenges in the region and where improvements could be made.

It’s important to talk about these types of projects to hopefully inspire others. Initiatives and costs don’t need to be huge.”
Small touches

Pharma companies are well placed to help out with the huge challenges in the developing world, but they are also in an effective position to help out with local communities too. Kotecha says that even small gestures can have a significant impact. For example, earlier this year, the company helped fund a minibus for the UK charity, Age UK. The minibus is used to help reach lonely, elderly people and to take them to community centers where they can socialize. The company is also involved with “Billy’s House” in Nottingham, which is run by a charity called CLIC Sargent, which is part of Children with Cancer UK. Nottingham hospital has a ward for pediatric cancer patients and Billy’s House is a place where families can stay free of charge. In March 2017, Morningside also funded a new IT system for another UK charity called Inter Care – the system helps the charity track recycled surplus quality medicines and healthcare goods it sends to rural health units in Africa, as well as ensuring that the charity is compliant with UK regulations. More recently, the company made a donation to a Leicester based charity, Healing Little Hearts, which sends teams of medical specialists to perform lifesaving heart surgery in centres situated in India, Africa (Kenya, Tanzania), Mauritius and Malaysia.

“Many pharma companies are doing fantastic work with local charities and the developing world, but it’s not always well publicized,” says Kotecha. “I feel it is important to talk about these type of projects to hopefully inspire others. Initiatives and costs don’t need to be huge. Even a minibus for local elderly people can make a big difference. The minibus we funded helps around 200 elderly people a week.”

Like many others in the industry, Kotecha’s desire to do good is driven by wanting to help others rather than business goals – but doing good can certainly bring good karma to oneself and a company. Morningside won a UK Queen’s Awards for International Trade in 2012, with judges commenting they were impressed with the company “turning its mission statement of providing nations worldwide with affordable and accessible healthcare into a reality”. Kotecha also adds that it’s surprising how many people choose to join the company because of not only the company’s successful work in the UK, but because of its work with NGOs. Kotecha himself has also not gone unnoticed. In November 2016, he was invited to attend a Trade visit to India with the Prime Minister, Theresa May, alongside other captains of industry with the goal of drumming up business to help negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal. Kotecha was also awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 2017 for services to entrepreneurship, innovation in pharmaceutical services and philanthropy.

Kotecha adds, “The main part of our business comes from the UK, so our work with developing nations, the UN and NGOs is a smaller part of the business, but I think it’s amazing what we’ve helped to achieve. The real hard work comes from the volunteers working with NGOs but I’m glad we can help in a small way.”

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About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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