Select content for publication in  
Select content for publication in  

Merita Sheqi

Co-founder and Administrator, Rejsi Farma

With a 20-year track record of excellence, Rejsi Farma is a pharmaceutical industry leader in Albania. Known for its collaboration with top international companies and meticulous adherence to EU regulatory standards, Rejsi Farma has become a trusted brand in its own right. The company’s strong market share is a reflection of its reputational strength as a pioneer in the industry and the team’s commitment to excellence across its production chain

Can you provide an overview of the healthcare sector and how your company contributes to its development?

The Albanian health sector is worth about €160 million. Important international branded companies are about 54 percent of the total. From that 54 percent, 35 percent of the branded companies are companies that we import from. We import about 500 different products, comprising about €100 million of product.

What is Rejsi Farma’s niche in the healthcare sector?

We specialize in pharmaceutical drugs. As I mentioned, we cover 35 percent of the market’s branded company products. We have such a strong market share because of our founding philosophy to partner with well-known international companies and deliver top-quality pharmaceutical products to Albanian patients. Twenty years ago, this was a challenging feat as the market was very different. There was little regulation in the country and a substantial black market. However, we remained steadfast in our philosophy, pioneering this model. Over the years, companies saw the benefits of working with us. We led the way in bringing internationally recognized brands to the market.

What has led international brands to place their trust in Rejsi Farma as their entry point into the Albanian market?

Over the 20 years we’ve been working with international branded companies, we have continued to see new companies contract with us every year. What attracts them is our performance, our adherence to EU regulatory standards – which we have adhered to those standards since before Albanian law required it – and our track record of aligning our process with these companies’ own internal audit and quality standard requirements.

We serve as an example of corporate excellence in Albania, having been the first to comply with EU standards, and voluntarily. Brands trust us because our track record and reputation speak for themselves. Also, it is important to mention that Rejsi Farma apart from its performance, it is also a company with high integrity and ethics, which is highly valued by the Western partners.

The Albanian health sector is worth about a €160 million, and Rejsi Farma covers about 12 percent of this total

How does Rejsi Farma adhere to EU regulatory standards?

Our warehouses implement standard operating procedures that are based on EU guidelines. One of the most important elements of this are our traceability guidelines, which allow us to trace products at any stage of the production cycle. If a problem occurs, we can locate the product immediately. Temperature monitors notify us if there are any deviations. The team is very well versed in these standard operating procedures and that is incredibly important in our ensuring that we can adhere to our quality standards.

What type of strategic investments has Rejsi Farma made in technology and training?

We’ve invested in a warehouse managing system; this, in particular, allows us to focus on traceability. We’ve invested in IT and automating our distribution system. These systems allow for express delivery to the pharmacies. Despite the focus on automation, these IT systems are complicated, and it is critical to have staff who are well trained to operate these systems. High modernized systems of temperature monitoring and fire detection have also been applied. Overall, Rejsi Farma possesses the largest warehouse in the country with all EU standards applied and has successfully passed with great remarks all the international audits.

What attracts [international brands] is our performance, our adherence to EU regulatory standards and our track record of aligning our process with these companies’ own internal audit and quality standard requirements

How do you continuously train your employees to be up to standard on new technologies, systems and regulations?

We have a very employee-centered business at Rejsi Farma. As we are a family business, we’re in touch every day with every employee. Everyone is taken care of like in a family. We do certified trainings on our standard operating procedures on a monthly basis to keep our team up to date. Mainly the staff is young therefore there is a lot of enthusiasm and energy at the company. Indeed, we believe that Rejsi Farma plays an important role in Albania, attracting young people and offering them opportunities to create a European career in their own country. However, the key positions are managed by people with experience who have worked for our company for many years.

Where do you see your company in five years’ time?

Our strategy is to expand our portfolio but not change our philosophy. We always want to work with well-known companies that align with the standards we’ve adhered to throughout these years.

Do you have existing relationships with German companies?

We have relationships with a number of well-known German companies. We also partner with some smaller German companies.

What message would you give to German companies and German investors about Albania?

Rejsi Farma is the leading pharmaceutical company in Albania, not only based on turnover but also based on performance. We had an annual turnover of €31 million in 2018, and have over 100 employees. I believe that German companies are not only looking for strong companies but also for companies with similar performance and quality standards to theirs. We excel in both areas. I invite German companies to come to Rejsi Farma and see with their own eyes that we are an EU company.

We are not just an Albanian company; we are a company that looks like the companies you see in Germany, Spain, or Austria

What future do you see for healthcare in Albania over the next five years?

I’m optimistic that the national healthcare budget will increase significantly. The Ministry of Health is laying out a positive roadmap to take Albania along this path. The growth strategy incorporates strategic planning, including the referencing of more studies and evaluations. This was not how it was done in Albania in the past. We are also seeing a lot of investment in hospitals at the moment. One area for improvement is that we will need to reevaluate pharmaceutical pricing in the near future. We are known for our low prices. However, the cost of manufacturing changes over the years, but those changes are not reflected in the prices. Our government needs to adapt and be more flexible, and we should conduct an evaluation and reference multiple countries to compare prices. It is crucial that international brands do not leave the market just because the pricing isn’t competitive. We want to ensure not only that companies stay, but that new companies continue to arrive.

Our goal is to give Albanian citizens the same access as EU citizens to quality drugs. 

As a co-founder, what has made you most proud of Rejsi Farma over the years?

I’m very proud that we have stuck to our founding principles. It was very difficult at the beginning when the regulatory environment and market were different. However, our steadfastness paid off; because of our performance and consistent adherence to high standards, our name is not only working for us, but we are considered a brand name in Albania. Pharmacies and patients trust our name. We’re very proud of this.

Do you have any final messages about Albania?

Albania is a small country with a lot of potential. We will show that we are valuable as a member of the European family. Albanians are very hard working people and flexible to adapt; in this case to EU regulations. Also, it is important to mention that we have been always European oriented, and I believe we just need to be given a chance to prove it. Furthermore, I am optimistic that Albania has taken the right steps and strongly believe that we are on the right path to enter in the EU family soon.

Related Interviews