New directions | Inquirer Business

New directions

Pascual Group ventures outside traditional pharmaceuticals, medicines

Martin Pascual

The Pascual Total Health Group (PTHG), as the name suggests, is venturing beyond its traditional base of pharmaceuticals and medicines.

Martin Pascual, PTHG chief executive officer, wants the company to have a more holistic approach to health and well-being.


Under his stewardship, PTHG plans to provide curative and therapeutic products, such as supplements, with focus on natural ingredients.

It is also expanding its portfolio of offerings to include personal and beauty care products.


“It’s always been our intent and strategy to expand from what has been traditionally a business selling pharmaceuticals and medicines, to a more holistic view of healthcare with a technology-enhanced platform of services and products such as medicines, natural supplements, personal and beauty care products, data analytics services and diagnostics,” Pascual says.

The grandson of chemists Leonora and Isosceles Pascual, who founded Pascual Laboratories, a pioneer and leader in generic drugs and scientifically developed herbal formulations in the Philippines, the 40-something Pascual is a lawyer by training.

But, judging by his passion for his new role, the pharmaceutical business must have been embedded in his DNA.

He was not completely clueless about the local pharmaceutical industry and the family business, thanks to his mother who regularly updated him on company developments.

Aggressive growth

Pascual set up PTHG after gaining full control of both ADP Pharma Corp. and Seville Pharmaceuticals Inc., while divesting from Pascual Pharma Corp.

He bought ADP Pharma because he says, “We wanted to grow the company faster and more aggressively and the best way to do that would be to acquire ADP Pharma.”


PTHG completed the purchase in December last year.

The balikbayan lawyer, who grew up in the United States, has remained rooted in the Philippines and the family business.

“I want to build on the legacy [of] my grandparents. They were chemists who, after graduating from the University of the Philippines, founded the business in 1946 selling vitamins and other medicines from their house. The second generation, my mother and her siblings, worked for the company, playing different roles as pharmacist, chemist, doctor and lawyer. They grew the family business into the corporation that is known today.”

He adds, “My grandparents were my biggest influence in business with respect to guiding principles… and how to work and treat people.”

Pascual will keep his grandparents’ lessons in mind as he introduces more products and supplements to the market.

As part of his strategy to grow PTHG, Pascual has partnered with multinational Zuellig Pharma.

But Pascual is not planning an extensive offering of products.

He says, instead of an entire portfolio of pharmaceutical products, PTHG will focus on volume—providing affordable products in volumes to meet market demand as quickly as consumers need them.

Pascual says moving into pharmaceuticals was not difficult despite his background. “What was difficult was the science/technical aspect of the business. Learning about the (pharmaceutical) industry took time,” he says.

It was also challenging for somebody used to American business ways to get into the more personalized way of Filipino companies.

“I tend to be impatient [but] building relationships takes time,” he says. “I’ve learned to be more patient with people as I have to deal with different types of personalities in my job every day. Patience is not only a virtue but a requirement in my position as CEO so I can uncover how best to motivate people.”

Higher goals

It helps that he sees PTHG as more than just a profit-making machine.

The former US Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa says, “I’ve always looked at what I do as a vocation, as something more than just earning a living. It is an opportunity for me to build something greater than myself.”

His training as a lawyer, he thinks, has developed in him a great attention to detail and risk management skills.

“I specialized in corporate law so I had already spent time practicing thinking in business terms since the legal cases I handled were always in the framework of business problems. And so, moving from law to business, I felt my legal training helped me to understand my corporate job not only in legal terms but also in general commercial strategies. My strongest suit, however, is my entrepreneurial mindset—I am willing to take risks and I am highly adaptable,” he says.

After several years in the stressful American rat race, Pascual says he wanted to change his life and set down roots somewhere else.

“I barely had time to see my wife and my daughters, who were 6, 4 and 2 at the time… In the US, it seems the importance of your career is emphasized more than the importance of your family. I did not want my children to grow up with those values. So when the opportunity came to come home to join the family business, I didn’t hesitate,” he shares.

Pascual is intent on carrying on the pioneering spirit and legacy of innovation of his grandparents and their children.

He points out that the first natural cough remedy, Ascof, made from organically grown lagundi leaves, resulted from the “collaboration between our company, the government and academe.

Re-Leaf, meanwhile, is for kidney stone sufferers and is made from sambong leaves.

These products were the results of a fruitful R&D (research and development) partnership with the University of the Philippines and the Department of Science and Technology.

While he intends to nurture collaborations like these, Pascual says, “We plan on buying more products, as well as grow our current brands so hopefully they become ‘things that people cannot live without’.”

Top products

At present, PTHG’s top product is Propan, a multivitamin and appetite stimulant for children.

It also offers Diamaxin for diabetes sufferers and naFlora, a feminine product.

Pascual says he will continue to use traditional forms of advertising and strengthen the company’s relationships with health and medical practitioners to achieve his business goals.

But he also plans to use new, particularly social, media a lot. “Social media democratize information, giving people more access,” he explains.

He adds that he wants to help empower people to take control of their own health and offer them a wider range of treatment options.

And when they think about total health, the young CEO wants them to think Pascual. —CONTRIBUTED

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