Espee Group

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September 18, 2017 Issue



Q&A with Swapnil Shah, Executive Director of Espee Group, Globally Renowned Pharmaceutical Conglomerate having operations in the United States, Europe, the U.K., Canada, China and Australia



Swapnil Shah

Executive Director


Espee Group


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – September 18, 2017


CEOCFO: Mr. Shah, what is the focus for Espee Group today?

Mr. Shah: We have been in the business for the past 35 years. We started with API distribution, which is Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, which is the chemical that is used for formulating drugs. We started with the API distribution in the 1980’s, then slowly grew into multiple business functions, such as API manufacturing to distribution into the United States. We cover the entire Europe, the U.K. and Canada, and we are slowly growing into China and Australia as well. The focus for Espee Group today is to file our own generic products in the United States, we are getting into the space where you have the giant MNC’s of the world. We are getting into the space within China, where we will be competing with the Chinese generic manufacturers and filing our own products there. That is our core activity and where we foresee ourselves in the next few years.


CEOCFO: How do you work with your clients on the interactive level? What is it about your approach that is different and more comprehensive?

Mr. Shah: We touch base on various types of customers in the whole process of how we operate. We have business with virtual companies, small, medium and large pharmaceutical organizations across various regions, not specifically in the US. When it comes to customer acquisition and how we work with our clients, it all depends. We have separate teams of sales representative who are being trained to cater to a particular function and to acquire a particular customer within that function. Typically, customers require three things. One, they would want competitive pricing in whatever business space you are in. Two, they want all of the services to match their requirements. Three, they want you to be regulatory compliant in the whole process. Those are the main three parameters for how we obtain a customer within each business area.


CEOCFO: As a global company, how do you stay on top of the regulatory issues in the different geographies you work with as well as the trends in science and medicine that can make a difference for you clients and Espee Group?

Mr. Shah: That is a good question. The answer to that comes in two segments. First, there is science, where it is trial and error, because science is never a defined space. You have to keep on trying, investing, being innovative, and coming up with different approaches, as well as reading and keeping up with new technologies. Second is the regulatory, where we have qualified people on board who interact with the USFDA and different regulatory bodies throughout the world. We currently have operations in 5 continents and products in 60 countries. With regards to the regulatory standards, to have a global standard like the US FDA, gives us an edge, when it comes to dealing with regulatory agencies in other countries. You can always scale down to individual operations according to the need in different countries. The USFDA standards help open up doors to some of the regions for us. For example, in China, if you have a USFDA approved product, you will get Chinese registration within 6 to 8 months, whereas in any other country it takes about two and half to three years. Therefore, from a regulatory standpoint we try to predominantly follow the USFDA. On the science side you have to keep reading and investing into newer and newer technologies. There are many scientists that we communicate with on a regular basis, and there are many conferences that we attend and participate in. That is how we carve a path forward for our company.


CEOCFO: How do you breakdown between some of the consulting and some of the actual production? Are there types of projects you prefer to work on, given a choice?

Mr. Shah: It depends. We barely do any work that is exclusively consulting work. Most of our work is project based which includes consultation as well as deliverables. We have a two-year plan, five-year plan and ten-year plan in place. We see to it that the projects that we take up fall into the strategy for our group in our 2, 5 or 10 year plan. If it makes sense and is complementary to what we do and what we want to achieve for our group in the next 2 to 5 years we take up those projects.


CEOCFO: What is new in the pharma industry with regard to materials used to make capsules or machinery? How do you know what it is time to update a machine, technology or material?

Mr. Shah: We stay on top of what is happening in the industry by going to conferences, meeting and interacting with people and reading about it. This helps us with new technology. As far are incorporating new technology with our existing manufacturing and other processes is concerned, we always start with the lab, as it is with any pharmaceutical company. You would have a pilot scale equipment and the large scale equipment. However, we always start with the small scale to see how things perform, and then based on that we move into newer and better technology. For example, there is an anti-abusive product, so if people want to abuse certain drugs and take 8 to 10 pills at one time, the tables will not dissolve in the body. That is one new technology that has come into the marketplace. We are doing some research into this, but the results have not come out as great as we thought it to be. However, new technology keeps coming regularly, so we keep investing and reading about it.


CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your nutraceuticals? How do you work with your clients to have a quality product that does what it claims?

Mr. Shah: That is another good question. This is where I would like to highlight some of the mistakes we have encountered as a group. We have had about 7 nutraceutical products back in 2014 and 2015. We have had weight loss chewing gum, vegan omega 3 supplement, ready to use coconut powder and a stevia sweetener. We invested in the nutraceuticals because we thought the next big thing was going to be nutraceuticals, and I am not saying that it is not, but there are certain ways to achieve those things. Our first few orders had great sales numbers, but as we moved forward in those products the sales deteriorated. For example, if you have a headache you will probably reach for the Tylenol. You see instant result in the form of headache being gone in few hours. With nutraceuticals, the factor of instant relief is missing. It takes long period of time for any result to show (months or years). Thus, the product has to be taken consistently for years to show results and for you to realize how it is making a difference to your lifestyle. Therefore, we saw significant sale in the first few quarters and then there was a big dip and sales started to decline. That caused us to discontinue 4 of our 7 products. Currently, we have all organic psyllium which is dietary supplement, quinoa seeds which is a protein supplement and chia seeds which is supplement for omega 3 and has antioxidant properties that we sell through various channels in the United States. We are focused on these 3 products, investing more on the research and getting the best product out, rather than doing something where the products are not backed-up by significant research. In nutraceuticals if you have significant research done and can prove the claims that you have put on the label, that will lead to the success of your product. However, the market is flooded with products and people making all kinds of claims, but no research to back those claims up.


CEOCFO: How are you able to help with traceability to know where a product is throughout the whole process? How are you able to use technology and best business practices to back up the chain for your customers?

Mr. Shah: We have software in place for the traceability and serialization of individual products and manufacturing being sold out of our facilities. That is where we incorporate the entire software in our supply chain processes, which can trace whatever we do. There is always new technology in pharmaceutical to incorporate and adopt to be compliant with the global standards. We have a specific IT division that researches and tests different products available in the market to see what is best for our use.


CEOCFO: Do many of your clients take advantage of a range of your services?

Mr. Shah: We have customers who we cater to on four different business functions. We have top 20 clients who we try to work with on many fronts, from product development to distribution. Then we have customers who work with us purely for a specific purpose in a specific business function. However, we are looking to engage more and more with our top 20 customers, because they understand our system and we understand theirs, so together we can achieve bigger and better things.


CEOCFO: How is business these days?

Mr. Shah: Business is challenging, dynamic and at the same time motivating because regulations are changing every day. It is challenging because you have to be there to see what has changed and what has not. It is dynamic because those challenges bring out the best in you, so you look for a solution out of the box. It is motivating because there is so much business out there. In the United States alone healthcare spending is close to about $2 trillion in a year. That keeps you motivated because there is so much out there that you can do for your group in the available space.


CEOCFO: Sum it up for our readers. Why choose Espee Group?

Mr. Shah: People should choose Espee Group because we are a fully integrated business house when it comes to the 2nd tier companies. We are involved in right from the intermediates development & manufacturing, API development & manufacturing, formulation development & manufacturing to all the way to distribution across different regions. We have everything in house as far as the pharmaceutical process is concerned. We have operations in the Middle East, in Central and South America, China, Australia, Canada, Europe, UK and the US. If you take the 1st tier companies out, the moment you get into the second tier of companies we are the only group that has penetrated into almost all regions of the world, and we have our own operations in those regions. This will help any company to market their product globally and gain by taking advantage of our global exposure.


“People should choose Espee Group because we are a fully integrated business house when it comes to the 2nd tier companies.”- Swapnil Shah


Espee Group



Swapnil Shah








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