Prescription for Success

PNP Pharmaceuticals

During his time in retail vitamin sales through the eighties and nineties, Glen North felt that something was missing from the market. “Years ago there really weren’t many products in the fitness and nutrition sector that were available, maybe three or four brands to choose from. In the mid to late eighties, the health industry became the fastest growing industry worldwide. Within that industry, fitness and nutrition grew even more rapidly. I was not able to find anything on the market that I liked as the choices just weren’t there. I used to have my own products custom made to my specifications in California as no supplier was able to supply me with what I wanted or needed.”

By 1999, he had decided to manufacture his own products and Pacific Natural Products Inc. was born. A facility was leased and equipped to the regulatory standards of the time. Glen joined forces with a partner, Dr. Dennis Thneah, an MD that shared Glen’s philosophy. As the company exceeded production standards, it was soon in demand to manufacture products for other suppliers as well as its own lines. The company has now grown into one of the largest contract manufacturing companies in Canada. “My philosophy on what we’ve done is that we just really want to be the best manufacturer of natural and pharmaceutical products.”

The company acquired its drug licence in 2008 in order to be able to produce over the counter products as well as natural supplements. “PNP specifically makes products to our customer’s specifications and we help prepare them for their clinical trials if they are going to perform those. We do everything from start to finish or any process in between. Some companies give us their formulas and we formulate to their specifications or we will do it all.”

Indeed, the impressive range of certifications it holds means the company really can do it all. It has a Health Canada Site Licence allowing it to produce natural health products and an Establishment Licence for the fabrication of over-the-counter drug products. Both are issued by Health Canada. PNP is also certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia governing body as well as being certified NSF Dietary, NSF for Sport, ISO 2001:9000, Informed Choice, and licensed to produce ephedrine HCl and pseudo-ephedrine HCl products.

To ensure good management practices, the company undergoes many routine inspections from the various agencies supplying it with certifications as well as audits by its clients. “Basically we have one physical on site audit per month and that is not including the paper audits. Most nutraceutical sites do not go through physical audits, only paper audits.” The rigorous standards are vital Glen says. “At the end of the day, we have to take on a ton of responsibility. We produce these products that people put into their mouths.”

Glen is very proud of the unique position of PNP Pharmaceuticals in uniting the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. “I have always believed there was going to be a marriage of the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical worlds. Up until now, these worlds have been quite a distance apart. As a matter of fact a lot of people in the natural health products industry look at the pharma side as the big evil competitor doing the synthetics and the pharma companies look at the natural side as ineffective and certainly low-tech.”

PNP Pharmaceuticals is a pioneer in combining the unique properties of natural products to complement the properties of drug products. As there are two very different regulatory bodies involved, the company is treading on new ground. Glen believes that this is just the beginning. “I believe that both the natural and pharmaceutical products will merge I think over the next twenty years and I want to be known for bridging that gap.

“Although there are some drugs and some natural products that are definitely harmful, it is sad as most are over prescribed and potentially end up doing more harm than good,” says Glen. “What I’ve always preached is that natural products work if they are done correctly. People must remember that almost every single drug on the market has originated from a natural product.”

Though the origins of many natural health products lie in folklore and anecdotal evidence, PNP ensures that its natural products are scientifically proven to be effective. “I am proud that PNP is a science based company with a good clinical division. We work with companies to prepare their products for their clinical trials and also provide clinical labelling as well, which not a lot of companies have the ability or expertise to do.”

Glen debunks the popular notion that the more you pay for a vitamin for example, the less filler is in each tablet or capsule. “Years ago the small health industry would often use scare tactics to keep you away from the big companies. First of all there is no glue in making a tablet; a ‘binder’ is used. Everything has to be done to the regulatory standards and tablets have to meet disintegration times. Most of the same companies are making products for smaller independent stores and are doing the same for the big box stores. And as far as vitamins go, almost of the raw material is coming from one of very few manufacturers that are actually making vitamins, so when someone tells you theirs are better than the name brand, there is a very good chance that theirs are made in the very same facility.”

The latest packaging technology PNP is utilizing sounds brilliant as many people have a difficult time swallowing pills of any size. Stick packs are single size servings or doses of product sealed in a package resembling a tube or stick. “We’ve got the only real stick packaging machine that can dose pharmaceutical here in Canada. We had this very large machine custom made in Spain over the period of two years.” Stick packaging, which began in Europe, is commonly used for things like individual servings of sugars and sugar substitutes.

Although, when working with drugs, the weight variance is far more critical and Glen says that a lot of the drug powders do not flow very easily. “So we had to design a stick pack machine that could handle all different characteristics of drug powders but still give you a very tight and consistent weight standard. We are doing the first one as we speak.” Stick packaging enables the company to provide a larger dosage as it is not in a large (and difficult to swallow) pill form, it allows a more active potency and it allows the addition of natural flavours so the dosage can be conveniently put right into a water bottle.

The company has built a new state of the art facility which has been up and running since October of last year. This new facility, which is made specifically for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products, is one of the more advanced in North America. “Our facility is fully validated for the production of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products. We are the only manufacturer in Canada to monitor production room air pressure differential 24 hrs a day. We are also the only company in Canada employing a sophisticated UV light system in our supply air to destroy live organisms on first pass to reduce any chance of contamination.”

The company’s new facilities also house a beautiful staff recreation area equipped with lots of glass, a fully furnished gym, ping pong, darts and HDTV. “You are typically at work often longer than you are at your home so we wanted it to be comfortable.”

As the nature of the industry is ever changing, company personnel are constantly being sent on courses to stay on top of the latest developments. “We have full training and all our staff has previous experience – largely in pharmaceuticals. The training for our staff is always ongoing.”

Glen says that when he came up with the company’s mission statement, he wanted something to indicate that all customers are totally equal. “I treat all clients, whether large or small, exactly the same and I prefer to think of them as our partners. We don’t produce a product with our name on it and unless their product sells we’re not going to have a business. I firmly believe in quality first and profit will follow. If you are the best at what you do, money follows.”

If the company makes an error, Glen says it has to make it right and be accountable. “I always say you only know the integrity or quality of the company when there is adversity and then and only then can you tell a company’s true character. It strengthens the relationship between us and our partners in business when they know you will always stand by them.”

June 24, 2018, 2:59 AM EDT

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