Guest: Nazim Nassar
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Nazim Nassar is the Managing Director of the AIMS Medical Group and has over 20 years experience in different avenues in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. He received this degree in Biological Sciences at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and did some work at the Department of Biochemistry and Haematology at RAMBAM Medical Centre in Haifa, Israel. He moved to Australia for his post graduate studies and in 2000 where he completed his Pharmacy degree at Monash University in Melbourne. On the 16th of June 2009 he became the founder of the Australian International Medical Supplies Pty Ltd which is the core of AIMS Medical Group.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we are presented with the wide array of products and services that the AIMS Medical Group has to offer. Managing Director Nazim Nassar is here to share valuable information on their areas of service which include Aged Care, Hospital at Home, Private Day Hospitals, GP Clinics, Veterinary Clinics and Academic Research Institutions. AIMS is a leading supplier and distributer of TGA approved and hospital grade healthcare products, supplying to national and international markets. Our areas of service include Aged Care, Hospital at Home, Private Day Hospitals, GP Clinics, Veterinary Clinics and Academic Research Institutions.
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio my name is Wayne Bucklar. And my guest this morning is Nazim Nassar. Nazim is an interesting managing director who has some stories to tell us. Nazim welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Nazim Nassar: Good morning Wayne.
W: Now first of all Nazim, tell us about your firm. This is AIMS A I M S Medical Group and what is it that you do?
N: Okay. Let’s start with AIMS as the A I M S which stands for “Australian International Medical Supplies” and the reason behind the name, when we started this company 6 years ago. The main purpose was to export a medical product from the Australian market to the Gulf Region in the Middle East and to some European countries including North Africa as well. And that’s the reason again behind the name. We started this company as a supplier of medical products approved TGA from the Australian market. The reason is because worldwide it’s well known now that TGA is one of the highest standard when it comes to medical and pharmaceutical products. We found there’s big interest for that so that’s what we’ve done.
W: Now the TGA is the government body that approves Therapeutic Goods in Australia and you’re saying that they’re highly regarded compared with similar bodies in other countries.
N: Yeah, that’s right. TGA means that Therapeutic Drug Administration and this is an authority or the body behind approval of medical and pharmaceuticals to be used in the Australian market. Now that’s equivalent to what we call the FDA or the FOOD Drug Administration which is the American and the European one from Sweden. We know that all and it’s worldwide known that even if there is medical or pharmaceutical approved under the FDA, still when we come to Australia has to go through what we call it clinical trials which includes three different phases to get approved to be used in Australian market. That’s one of the reason we have sometimes delays of getting new products from the European or the American market to get into the Australian end-users.
W: Now Nazim your part to being managing director of the AIMS Medical Group, it’s not simple and straight forward is it? Tell us a little bit about your history?
N: Well I’m originally actually from Nazareth from Israel. And I’ve done first degree at the Hebrew University and that’s to do with Biological Sciences majoring in Physiology. And after my first degree and that was during the 4 years from since there, between 1985 and 1989. After that I move to Haifa to that…which is equivalent to my field in Melbourne here. And so I moved to the faculty of medicine there and I did my second degree in medical science as majoring in pharmacology. My research was to do with contractility of were the myocardium or heart their muscle are affected by a liver disease, were talking about here jaundice and a cirrhosis and then after 3 years after finished that research and granted me my master degree in pharmacology. Moved to Tel Avuv, did work on a pharmaceutical company called Lapidote which was associated with Lundbeck from Denmark. And there I did on the antipsychotic and some gynecological products, for that bit of time move about around 2 years, again a lot of experience to do with marketing and sales of pharmaceutical products which gave me a new direction in my life. And I was thinking one day probably I will be involved in it, but still at some degree involved in academic field and I was enjoying it actually. During my master my supervisor originally actually he’s in Australian guy from Sydney migrated to Israel 10 years before that. That’s the way I get to know a little bit about Australia and started to get interested more when I did work on the gynecological products mainly when we worked on IVF in Tel-Aviv and at that time, still until today probably Monash Medical Center and their facility control clinics in Melbourne are considered one of the leading researchers and clinics worldwide. So I was involved to some degree during that time and got interested in the Australian market and research and started exploring that area. So after 3 years I did apply qualified migrant to come to Australia, did some part of my work during my study as a medical laboratory technician at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. It took me a bit of time, it wasn’t an easy process. There were a lot of strict policies or were strict policy until today. I was lucky at the end after 3 years, my application got approved and then migrated to Australia based on that part of visa as qualifying migrant to do some work here. And after I arrived to Melbourne, 3 months later I was exploring also continuing a research at the Melbourne University. So I met Professor Angus I remember at that time, I did my pharmacology at the Melbourne University. I thought it might be PhD but then financial difficulties forced me to go and explore different avenues, as I said migrated here with my wife from Nazareth as well, little daughter 1 year old and at that time my English was extremely limited as a third language for me. I couldn’t be a tutor or a person who can work in a university in teaching, so I have to find part time jobs so I can support my family. But then I was thinking, I thought I don’t want to continue on my life like that and so I did go to Monash University.
W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. Today I’m having a chat with Nazim Nassar from AIMS Medical Group. And Nazim has been telling us about his work in Melbourne University, atMonash University and how he came to be the managing director of the current venture. Go on Nazim.
N: Yeah, so I was talking about the involvement in research at Melbourne University then I was thinking at that time medical research is not getting the right support financial from government and other organizations or bodies. So I was thinking a more rational, well let’s put it that way, about the future family settling in Australia and so I started exploring other fields to go and find there that might help me to find job later on. And then I applied to Monash University to do the pharmacy course. I was lucky at that time to get accepted there, a tough course to get into it because of the limit number of students that were accepted to that at that time. And that was in 1995, 3 months I arrived to Melbourne. I did the course and there then I was training at Austin Hospital. I finished my trainee shift over there. Then I moved to community pharmacy, I did work and I started working community pharmacy in 2000 until 2009. For that time I was thinking that one day I want to get involved in business to do with the health field. Problem one was of course first thing resource for about money and how you gonna do it exactly because as we know the Australian, first of all Australia is a small country. There’s a lot of local players here, it was a lot of financial support to start business like that. You gonna be competing with giants. And so it’s hard to get accepted by suppliers and manufacturers, get their products into the market. So that’s what gave me the idea “Let’s start doing something that not many people don’t and that’s to take the Australian products overseas. And I’ve chosen the one of the hardest market to deal with. The reason is different ways of operation over there and I’m talking about Gulf area or the Middle East, different languages, instability after the Gulf War and lots of the challenges. And the Australia companies and Western company they find it very difficult to go there, the reason is because they don’t want to get involved in there, their happy in their comfort zone. So my mission at that time was to find somebody who can help me doing it there. And during my work in pharmacy are met then many people there, where one day, I remember one Sunday a guy came in and then his accent was clearly an accent of somebody who came from that part of the world. And I started talking to him and I discover that he is, he did work over 20 years in the medical field in Saudi Arabia. I had a chat with him, I asked him if I can meet him again, so I met him for a couple of times after that. And I connected him and myself with another guy who is working in the Australian market as a medical representative for one pharmaceutical company. Our mission started from there when I arranged a kind of a deal that I will continue to work as a pharmacist to support this business and the guy who came from the Middle East will do background testing in the market leaders in that part of the world and the friend who I met in the Australian market will help me to conduct a daily business as in emailing, phone calls … and I set up my home as a little office for them.
N: And that started in 2009 and that’s the beginning of the story. Three months later I arranged trip with the guys to Saudi after we managed to convince one of the leading companies in Australia, it’s called Multigate Devices to take their products to the Middle East and that’s what we did. And we managed to evaluate their products and we managed to have some deals happening. A year later we thought, “Okay so that’s a good start, but how about our marketer here? We are in Australia, we live in Australia, we are Australians now.” And I’ve got a few ideas we can implement it as well here in this market. So due to my connections with aged care at that time as a pharmacist, I used to do some work with them I did make a few contacts and I managed to start getting the products that we take overseas to distribute it there for aged care markets in Victoria. A year later, due to my background as a pharmacist or pharmacologist and interest in the pharmaceutical products, we applied to and have ventures with other pharmaceutical companies through the Department of Health and it was successful. And that was a starting point to start distributing vaccines and pharmaceutical products to GP market and their … Today, we are a leading supplier of medical and pharmaceutical products to aged care, hospital at home, GP market and their … specifically we’re talking about … centers.
W: Now Nazim, it’s been a long journey to this point. I understand you also do a lot of work with medical practitioners in your part of the world who are not from an English speaking background.
W: That’s right. As I said, it’s a challenge it’s a big challenge to get into this field because of the competition, because the size of the already existing distributors, because a lot of reasons. So always you’ve got to find a way how you can rightly fit in within the market. And you have to have certain uniqueness in your services. So as a health professional I found or I came across different challenges that some parts of Melbourne, we know Melbourne is a very multi-cultural place and you know there is a lot of migrants and I did work and I lived in the Northern part of Melbourne which is one of the heaviest or one of the geographically one of the places where all migrants from usually after the Gulf War from Iraq, from Syria, from Egypt from generally from the Middle East and Turkey, come in to settle in. These guys, they don’t speak English well. The socio economic situation for them is not the best, they need a lot of help, they need a lot of support, they’re a bit intimidated when they deal with the Australian system. So we found out we can help them in this field. And some of them the health professionals, they just started working it’s hard for them to deal with western system in general. They have totally different approach to these services overseas where they came from. And at AIMS, one of the things I did work on and we’ve managed to do is to have a multicultural company. We have employees who are from Anglo-Saxon background, we have employees who are from Asian background, we have employees who are Arabic background that they can speak the Arabic language. And then we worked on that on purpose because we thought that might help us to get into different markets in terms of ethnic background and then we did manage to do that.
W: Nazim it’s a fascinating tale. It does sound to me like the service that you offer on two levels. Firstly, exporting Australian products to the rest of the world I think is a story that needs to be told. But also the support that you’re providing locally in Melbourne to your customers in the health profession who are not from an English speaking background, I think it’s incredibly important. Now for people who want to get in touch with you Nazim, I guess your 1 300 number is the best way 1300 731 530.
W: Yes, that’s right.
W: Now if you just joined us on Health Professional Radio this morning, we’ve just spent 20 odd minutes talking with Nazim Nassar from AIMS Medical Group about the development of the company and their exports particularly in the Middle East and their registration and services to the pharmaceutical company both around Australia and into the areas in North Melbourne where there are large population of non-English background professionals. Nazim, it’s been a pleasure talk to you this morning, we’ll put a transcript to this story up on our website and an audio file. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, this is Wayne Bucklar.