We must admit that when one thinks about local manufacturing, one does not naturally think of pharmaceuticals; and when one thinks of pharmaceuticals they think of names such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Bayer and the like. But proudly, we have our own local successful brand – Carlisle Laboratories Ltd. which has been producing pharmaceuticals for over 50 years. In fact, Carlisle Laboratories is the only pharmaceutical manufacturer in all of the Eastern Caribbean committed to helping you and the ones you love lead longer, stronger, healthier lives.
What is amazing is that when Barbadians pick up a bottle of Histal, Histatussin, Vitaplex or Becoplex for example, they may think it is a foreign brand; not realizing that it was competently manufactured right here in Barbados. Bajan owned and managed, the range of products manufactured by this company is wide and varied and at last count Carlisle Laboratories is actually producing in excess of 60 brands. These include oral liquid products which assist in the treatment of excess stomach acid, coughs and colds, allergic conditions including allergic rhinitis, for pain and fever as well as vitamins.
Carlisle also produces a number of creams, ointments and gels to treat a range of skin, hair, muscle, joint pain and vaginal conditions. Their oral capsules include a preparation for excessive stomach acid and acid reflux as well as vitamins and minerals. The tablets which they manufacture help fight allergies, nasal congestion, high blood pressure, anaemia, and the like.
Notably, Carlisle Laboratories flies quietly, but effectively, below the radar. Some may even argue that the company is one of Barbados’ best kept secrets since it is not an in-your-face type of company. However, the company has been steadily growing over the years and is now a major foreign exchange earner for Barbados with more than 80% of its production being exported.
It’s humble beginnings in the home of Clement Bourne, located in Lands End and now known as Spring Garden, is noteworthy. In a small lab Mr. Bourne started producing hair lotions, mouth washes and injection type products for Veterinarians. The company then moved on to making vitamins for race horses, and so later their signature product Becoplex was made for horses. In 1961 with Tuberculosis prevalent, the Bournes were asked to produce a Becoplex product for humans which would help to stimulate appetite in TB patients and which would be high in Vitamin B6; (at the time believed to be effective in counteracting the side-effects of one of the drugs being used to treat Tuberculosis). This request coincided with plans to establish Carlisle Laboratories Ltd., and gave impetus to getting it off the ground. The rest is history.
In the company’s view, the secret to surviving the tough economic times is learning to be more competitive. While they will admit that the cost of operating in Barbados is high, they have chosen to tackle the situation head on with increased investment to improve and expand their production facilities in an effort to be more productive and to have extra capacity when the economies of the region do turn around.
Research and development is key for this local manufacturer and this has greatly fueled the development of newer products and even their packaging. Within the company there has been constant reinvestment in facilities, plant and people, while producing quality products at competitive prices.
The company has faced many challenges over the years the most recent being an overall shrinking market due in part to the economic situation. Additionally, there are increasing demands and costs to meet and maintain what they see as the ever-increasing bureaucratic and other standards. Energy prices and transportation costs for both their imports and exports are also challenges they face but they are not daunted. This company is always digging deep and coming up with solutions to ensure its success and survival.