After doubling output three years ago, the company now operates the largest capacity soft gel encapsulation facility in the U.S., with 22 production lines, according to Kenn Israel, vice president of marketing-demonstrating impressive growth from its roots as a family-owned contract packager.
Since its establishment in 1989, the company has been focused on steady, sustainable advancement, constantly striving to create more efficient production methods. "We have achieved our growth by attracting highly qualified personnel and acquiring premium production equipment," said Mr. Israel. "We are focused on being a quick, low-cost provider of high-use items, such as omega 3 fish oil soft gels, mixed omega 3-6-9 soft gels and CoQ10."
Today, RPI provides a broad range of services that make it a "one-stop-shop" for contract manufacturing needs, he added. Alongside soft gel encapsulation, the company offers formulation and ingredient sourcing, tableting, two piece hard shell encapsulation and powder blending. In addition, it features a variety of custom finishing, coating and imprinting, as well as packaging services, which can help clients establish brand identity or improve functionality.
To ensure its products meet strict quality standards, RPI has been very proactive in meeting and exceeding GMP requirements. "Currently, the single most critical focus at Robinson Pharma is regulatory compliance and improving GMPs in our facility," said Mr. Israel.
The company's priorities were recently validated by a successful quality systems audit performed by Specialized Technology Resources (STR), which analyzed standard operating procedures, staff qualifications and training programs, along with facility cleanliness and all aspects of the manufacturing process.
Mr. Israel said additional audit results are forthcoming and are expected to re-affirm and strengthen the company's commitment to compliance. In line with its well-established governing principles, the company will continue to pursue better, safer manufacturing practices in the future, he added.
Looking at the industry overall, as FDA gears up to enforce new cGMP requirements that take effect this June for dietary supplement manufacturers with 20 or more employees, it remains to be seen how these smaller operations will manage the cost of compliance, Mr. Israel said. "Based on our experience at Robinson Pharma and the investments that have been required over the past three years, it's clear to me that only companies of significant size and scale will effectively manage the cost of compliance."
While discussing overall market conditions and consumer perception of the industry, he called "inherently unsound and untruthful marketing that has at times given the nutraceuticals industry a black eye" the biggest threat to the industry's credibility. Some "low-hanging fruit" could be ready to fall as a result of pressure applied by federal agencies like FDA and FTC, he added. "The industry has demonstrated that our products are relatively safe when compared to other segments of consumer goods, given the relatively low numbers of serious adverse event reports. Our biggest threats are not the products themselves but how they are marketed."
Still, the market for health ingredients remains a profitable sector. "In the past, rough economic times have supported growth in this industry," Mr. Israel noted. "It's unfortunate that job losses and economic cutbacks are forcing people to be more responsible for their own healthcare. Dietary supplements, I feel, are a great tool for people to deal with that stress."
This recession hit at a unique time in the market's progression, he added. "This downturn is different in that the industry is more mature. Companies that have not been offering maximum value have been punished. Fortunately, Robinson Pharma has positioned itself as a low-cost, high-value provider. And that's not by accident."
While that means the company may not have grown as rapidly in the past as some of its competitors, by sticking to the basics-its core values-Robinson Pharma has become more aggressive in terms of its growth and industry reach, doubling and then re-doubling its mass market production, Mr. Israel noted.
"Room for very rapid innovation for our industry has slowed," he said. "That means focusing on what we do well, what's proven and what's safe."-S.M.
Robinson Pharma Inc.
3330 S. Harbor Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92704