Halal pharmaceuticals: the next big thing?

Amirul Feisal bin Wan Zahir, group managing director of Chemical Company of Malaysia, talks about halal pharmaceutical products and why this industry is poised to be the new frontier for the global halal economy. 

What is CCM?

CCM-Logo-cropChemical Company of Malaysia, or CCM, is one of Malaysia’s largest generic pharmaceuticals and compound fertilisers manufacturer. We are listed on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia as a Shariah-compliant firm. We are also one of the top government-linked companies in Malaysia. CCM is a key player in the fertiliser, chemical and pharmaceutical industries and is the first to obtain the globally-renowned “Halal Malaysia” certification for the pharmaceutical and chemical products manufactured by our group of companies in 1999 and 2004, respectively.

We had recently marked our 50th anniversary in 2013, celebrating five decades of commitment to enhancing the quality of life of all our stakeholders, domestically and worldwide. Additionally, this year commemorates 15 years of our journey in spearheading CCM’s halal initiatives.

How is the halal pharmaceutical industry so far?

Years ago, many people thought that halal is only applicable to food and beverages. However, consumer awareness is now increasingly inclined towards halal being part of their everyday lifestyles and for those who want a better quality of life with greater peace of mind by consciously choosing halal products. Thus, halal pharmaceutical products are now poised to be the new frontier for the global halal economy, especially with the availability of the world’s first Halal Pharmaceutical Standard MS2424:2012 Halal Pharmaceuticals – General Guidelines, creating more avenues for consumers to make informed choices in choosing approved medicines that are safe, efficacious, of quality and hygienic whilst at the same time fulfilling the obligatory requirements under Shariah.

Why is CCM important to the industry?

We have always taken the committment to halal very seriously. The underlying principle for CCM’s business conducts and practices are encompassed in our aspiration to perform the fardh kifayah in making available halal products that are preferred by Muslims and everyone alike, be they in Malaysia or worldwide. We maintain a value chain based on integrity and to us, halal, as a concept, is built in and not tested for. This effort enables the strengthening of our position as a trusted and reputable company in the industry, trailblazing the path in the domestic and global halal industry.

CCM is also committed in playing a key role to promote and create awareness on this new sector of the halal economy for the benefit of the ummah, by organising seminars, talks and discussions, aimed at fuelling awareness on the rights of the Muslim consumers in requesting for halal alternatives, particularly for prescribed medicines from their doctors, should they be available, and to choose valid halal-certified over-the-counter products when they make such purchases.

What have been the major break-troughs for CCM?

Significant firsts in Malaysia:

  • First Halal Malaysia certified products for pharmaceuticals and chemicals
  • First small volume injectable
  • First dental cartridge
  • First soft gel plant
  • First patent — Controlled release mini-tabs in capsules
  • First state-of-the-art intermediate bulk container plant

Coming soon:

  • First halal vaccines fill and finish
  • First halal bio-similar

What can we expect the halal pharmaceutical industry to be like in five to 10 years?

With the increasing awareness of consumers, health professionals and related organisations, together with the stronger need to meet consumer rights towards informed choice for a better quality of life with products which are safe, efficacious, of quality and hygienic whilst fulfilling their religious obligations, which will then translate into higher demand, more and more pharmaceutical companies will come on board the halal pharmaceutical industry, thus providing wider range of alternatives to meet such demand.

How can CCM assist in the Halal agenda for Dubai?

As a starting point, we would be more than happy to assist in stimulating the awareness on the rights of the Muslim consumers in requesting for halal alternatives, beyond food and beverages, through our experience in promoting and creating awareness on this new sector of the halal economy, such as halal pharmaceuticals, since we have been organising seminars, talks and discussions since 2007. This shall widen the scope and breadth of the global Islamic economy that Dubai is spearheading.

Using Dubai as our platform to introduce our duly-certified products and share our knowledge and expertise in complying with the requirements of the Halal Pharmaceuticals Standard MS2424:2012, it will direct the global attention to Dubai as the knowledge/reference hub for this new frontier to the halal economy. We hope to inspire greater participation from pharmaceuticals players worldwide to do the same in order to give the ummah a greater spectrum of halal alternatives pertinent to fulfilling their obligations as Muslims. With the pool of expertise through our network, combining with those already established in Dubai, we should be able to converge the minds of Shariah and science, so as to further strengthen the integrity of halal in the eyes of the world, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

By Rushi Siddiqui

The writer is a consultant to Thomson Reuters for Islamic finance and halal industry.