Hospitals and customers stockpiling cold and influenza medicine is boosting revenue for New Zealand drug company AFT Pharmaceuticals.

The company supplies pharmacies and hospitals as well as over-the-counter products like the painkiller Maxigesic.

In three days it sold $1.2 million worth of Vitamin C Lipo-Sachets, as many as it sold in the entire year before.

Managing director Hartley Atkinson said they started preparing when the Covid-19 outbreak first began.

“We did see right back in January there probably would be a problem, we increased our stock holdings, we put more forward orders in … we did a lot of work and we’ve been really busy over the last six weeks working hard on this and we’re really glad that we did to be honest.”

He said demand in the last seven days had ramped up.

“We’ve seen strong demand for hospital antibiotics, particularly in Australia.

“We’re seeing a lot of orders from various health boards like Queensland Health are wanting to increase their stockholdings because they’re concerned if the virus takes hold then patients could get secondary bacterial infections and our products are the sort to treat [that].”

Atkinson said disruption to the global supply chain was the company’s biggest concern.

“There could undoubtedly be some challenges here and there so we’re still going to hold as much stock as we can. Freight has been a little bit tight but we have been getting our air freight.

“But even out of China we’ve been getting supplies okay, our factories have been making stock.

“I know one of our products has had a price increase, but we’re only talking about a few percentage points, so you do see that sort of thing and I’m not surprised, there’s a little bit of pricing pressure.”

He said the company’s diverse portfolio meant it would likely withstand disruption.

“We’ve got lots of different products, lots of different markets so if we have a problem in one area we’re comfortable we’ll make it up in other areas.”

The company expected to come in near the mid to top end of its year end forecast, which was in the range of $18.8m to $21.8m.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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