Bliss GVS Pharma has managed to break through the social bias against suppositories and pessaries in the Sub-Saharan African market. After years of research on these niche dosage forms, the company is trying to create more awareness on the benefits of suppositories and pessaries as dosage forms in the Indian market as well
Why did Mumbai-based Bliss GVS Pharma choose to excel in a dosage form which has a high social bias? To the extent that this Indian-based manufacturer does not market any of its products in India and is primarily export oriented.
But the choice is turning out to be a smart one and has paid off handsomely. Today, Bliss GVS Pharma has carved a niche for itself in the global pharma market as a manufacturer of suppositories and pessaries. For more than three decades, the company has been addressing unmet healthcare requirements across the world, especially across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Talking about the company’s success in African countries, Gagan Harsh, Vice President, Bliss GVS Pharma says, “Brands and products promoted by Bliss GVS have gained deeper and wider acceptance across hospitals and clinics ranging from Eastern to Western part of Sub-Saharan Africa. Various products in the therapeutic segments and new dosage forms like suppositories and pessaries stand testimony to this success of Bliss GVS.”
How do they work?
Suppositories are solid dosage form of varying weight and shape, intended for the administration of medicines via the rectum, vagina, or urethra for topical and systemic delivery. Suppositories are intended for insertion into body orifices where they melt, soften, or dissolve and exert localised or systemic effects. The medicament is incorporated into oleaginous (fatty) bases, which melts at body temperature, or into water soluble or miscible base which further dissolves in the mucous secretions.
Advantages of intra vaginal drug delivery system
- In case of nausea and vomiting, the act of taking medicine orally may induce emesis, hence the drug is vomited out before it is absorbed. Irritation to the stomach and small intestine associated with certain drugs can be avoided.
- Hepatic first pass elimination of high clearance drugs may be avoided partially
- Contact with digestive fluid is avoided, thereby preventing enzymatic degradation of some drugs
- The vaginal bioavailability of smaller drug molecules is good.
- The bioavailability of the larger drug molecules can be improved by means of absorption enhancer or other approach.
- Self -medication is possible
- Convenient access
- Prolonged retention of formulation
- Great permeation area
- Highly vascular
A pessary is an intra-vaginal controlled release drug delivery system and is effective in achieving a continuous delivery of therapeutic agents not only systemically active drugs, such as contraceptive steroids, but also locally active drugs such as metronidazole and other drugs like zidouvidine. This continuous penetration of the drug through vaginal mucosa can prevent the possibility of gastric irritation of drugs and fluctuation of dosaging interval. Suppositories and pessaries dosage forms are primarily used for elderly and children populations but could potentially be used by all age groups.
The reasons for use of suppositories and pessaries vary according to the target patient group. With children, more traditional formulations like suspensions, syrups, or tablets need to surmount the taste barrier. A ‘bitter’ experience may spoil all possible ‘sweet’ efforts of administration. Secondly, the patient’s physical condition could make it impossible to swallow any of the above. For instance, a child suffering from nausea/ vomiting/ fever etc could result in the medicine being vomited out and repeated administrations could result in an overdose.
Advantages of suppositories
- Free from issues of taste
- Do not pose a challenge when a patient is suffering from nausea/ vomiting
- Are not exposed to gastrointestinal irritation, thereby, avoiding systemic side effects
- Unlike, injectables, can easily be administered by patients
- Painless option Easy to use suppositories
Similarly, in the case of elderly patients, administration of oral medications could be difficult in cases of polymedication, meaning the patient needs to be administered a number of medicines at the same interval. Dose clarity is the second barrier, as understanding the correct dosing and its administration could pose a problem considering the physical and mental limitations due to age. And thirdly, there could be compliance issues with medication formulations due to health limitations. For instance, an elderly patient might not have the strength to sit up or needs to be remain in a prone position due to an injury.
Success in Sub-Saharan African
With its efforts, Bliss GVS has been able to successfully collaborate and partner with stakeholders of the healthcare industry including doctors, hospitals and policy makers in addressing these gaps in Sub-Saharan Africa. Talking about the growth, Harsh reveals, “We have set up close to about 100 healthcare facilities. This project has now reached a point where around 10,000 patients are treated everyday under various innovative healthcare schemes, which are being run in collaboration with large insurance companies. This initiative, which has been launched in Kenya so far, has its applicability and relevance across the entire Sub-Saharan Africa. Use of technology and leaner supply chain models developed for this initiative can bring down the cost of healthcare substantially thereby making it accessible to the masses. A large proportion of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa are currently without essential primary and secondary healthcare facilities owing to high costs.”
SR Vaidya, Director, Bliss GVS opines, “At present, our products are not available in India as we have realised that Indian patients are a bit rigid and they prefer conventional formulations, like oral and injectables. Our medical professionals are also reluctant to use this physiological dosage forms, which offers benefits to the patients. Awareness needs to be created in terms of benefits of such methods. However, we saw a similar mind set across Sub-Saharan Africa where the gap in healthcare sector is wide. With our efforts, patients are comfortable in adopting suppositories and pessaries.”
Significant investments have been made by Bliss GVS Pharma to position itself at the forefront of innovation in suppositories and pessaries dosage forms. The company manufactures its products at a recently inaugurated state-of-the-art R&D centre in Mumbai. The company has retained its leadership position across the world in suppositories dosage form in terms of installed manufacturing capacity for suppositions and also the number of formulations developed and commercialised in this dosage form. The newly inaugurated R&D centre will also augment Bliss GVS Pharma’s product portfolio in other novel drug delivery systems (NDDS). The new R&D facility will manufacture new products available for the upcoming manufacturing facility, which will be set up in Maharashtra, the land for which has already been acquired. It will significantly increase the manufacturing capacity for Bliss GVS in other dosage forms like oral solids. Summing up Harsh says, “All in all, exciting new healthcare models, newer and innovative dosage forms and ever increasing manufacturing capabilities ensure that life at Bliss GVS Pharma is always full of challenges and excitement.”