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Quest Pharmaceuticals: Innovating for healthier Nepal

Khushi Srivastava

Khushi Srivastava

Quest Pharmaceuticals: Innovating for healthier Nepal

Quest Pharmaceuticals is one of the top pharma companies manufacturing specialized drugs in Nepal. With a new generation of leaders like Aseem Rajbhandari, the company aspires to grow bigger

Quest Pharmaceuticals is a WHO-GMP-certified science-based healthcare company. Established in 2001, the company is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

As per the study of IQVIA, a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions and clinical research services to the life sciences industry, Quest is placed second in the ranking of pharmaceutical companies in Nepal in the year 2021.

Quest was jointly founded by Prithvi Rajbhandary, Uttam Kumar Shrestha, Shailendra Prasad Verma, and Umesh Lal Shrestha. They continue to form the core company members.

“Quest is a ‘family-friend business’ founded by the unison of friends. We are the second generation,” says Aseem Rajbhandari, associate director of strategy and operations.

The major inspiration behind establishing Quest, he adds, was the idea to contribute to Nepal’s economic sector and make it self-reliant and independent.

Before Quest, there were already many pharmaceuticals producing medicines under general category and only one company manufacturing specialized medicines. The company started out by manufacturing and marketing highly specialized cardio and diabetic medicines. Today, Quest manufactures over 100 medicines; nearly 90 percent of them belong to the chronic disease segment.

“We envision Nepal to be self-sufficient in international standard quality healthcare and medication, which are safe, affordable and easily available,” says Rajbhandari.

The company places high priority on R&D and investing in innovative machines and reverse engineering equipment to produce high quality products.

Besides overseeing the strategy and operations, Rajbhandari also looks after the HR and IT departments, strategic planning, financial risk management, and regulatory compliance for Quest.

“I used to work in the US as a financial analyst before coming to Nepal to join the business,” he says. “It has been five years since I joined Quest and I have learned a lot over these years.”

Rajbhandari likes to believe that he and the other second-generation leaders at Quest are in the transition phase.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a huge learning experience for them. Supply of raw materials, most of which come from India, was heavily constrained due to the border closure.

“It was an unforeseen challenge for the company,” says Rajbhandari. “But we managed to overcome the challenge because we had a system in place.”

He says the current challenge for Quest is the hike in the price of raw materials, while having to adhere to the price cap.

“It has always been a major issue for us, given we are highly dependent on imports.”

Another challenge is cyber security threats and growing market competition. But Rajbhandari feels challenges and difficulties have made Quest and its team stronger and resilient.

“They push us to come up with good strategies to improve ourselves.”

Rajbhandari is grateful to the Quest staff members for the company’s success.

“We have a great working culture. We have over 500 employees and as a brand, we are one of the preferred ones in the market,” he adds.

Quest plans to expand into new markets, such as dermatology, in the near future. To this end, the company is conducting industry-relevant feasibility studies. The company is also focusing on the export of its products.

Rajbhandari is confident that Nepali products are as good as foreign ones and more affordable.

“Since we are planning to enter the export market, we have to meet additional quality parameters,” he says. “This will further increase our product quality.”