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Owner & Co-Founder of National Drug Source


Selected to participate in the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center Certification Training Cohort 3B. Ethel’s million-dollar company is already Women-Owned certified in North Carolina and has sales internationally to over 50 countries. She is working to expand to the Middle Eastern and Latin American markets by expanding her online capabilities via localized websites & e-commerce.

Ethel Torres, owner, and co-founder of National Drug Source (NDS) has some exciting plans to grow her pharmaceutical distribution business! Her desire to learn more about winning government contracts led her to participate in the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center Certification Training Cohort 3B in June 2021. It provided useful information and perspective to help her start this process. In addition, she is working on plans of expanding her services to the Middle East & Latin America. Ethel is a Latina of Caribbean-born parents. Her background, degree in Nursing from Jackson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, and trainings received during her career, have prepared her to be the successful businesswoman she is today with NDS for over 17 years now!

“During my years as a bedside nurse, I relied on the consistent supply of safe, quality, & effective drugs for the well-being of our patients – we all did. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is known for its stringent regulations, as well as its safety and quality. Our processes ensure that all products have been safeguarded and treated with the utmost care. As a healthcare product distributor, I am dedicated to adhering to Good Distribution Practices, and to the delivery of the best quality products …”. – Ethel Torres, Owner & Founder, National Drug Source (NDS)

Ethel and her husband started up NDS in 2002. Two years after starting NDS, she quit her full-time nursing job so she could focus on providing access to the same quality medicines found in the USA to others around the globe. NDS is a fully licensed wholesaler involved in the procurement and distribution of thousands of healthcare products. This North Carolina Women-Owned business is known for its expertise to supply medicines and other healthcare products efficiently and responsibly to healthcare providers around the world! For almost 20 years, they have distributed pharmaceuticals in the United States (U.S.), and across the international borders!

“Shortly after starting NDS, we decided to expand to international markets because we noticed a gap and a drastic need for medication in emerging markets! In the U.S. it’s easy to take for granted the readily available items and services we have access to. Rarely is it thought, or fear, of not having access to a medicine that you or your loved one may need. In contrast, the process is usually quite simple. We go to the doctor and are prescribed a medication that is electronically sent to a pharmacy convenient to where we work or live. We simply swing by and pick it up, and in some circumstances, we don’t even need to do that because it is delivered to our front door! Sadly, there are individuals in the USA who don’t have access to certain medicines due to financial reasons, but not because it doesn’t exist in our supply chain. This need, and the need of manufacturers who need help exporting their products into certain foreign markets, inspired us to be an active participant in providing solutions to improve people’s lives!”. – Ethel Torres

NDS has international sales in over 50 countries! Their mission is to deliver quality products to a variety of healthcare settings around the world! “We want to provide the same quality and selection available in the USA to consumers in many countries, while also finding ways to reduce redundancies and cost. We are always seeking ways to help healthcare providers meet the needs of their patients as quickly and efficiently as possible!”. Ethel is currently working on expanding NDS's services to the Middle Eastern and Latin American markets!

“Our plans moving forward are to expand our product lines and services to more countries and to expand our online services to better serve varying time zones. We have websites that are available in their localized languages: one in the Middle Eastern market, and the other in the Latin American market. NDS is launching digital campaigns to market our services and products to the target markets. It’s important to make it easier for healthcare providers and facilities to find us. We want them to know they can have confidence in us as a trusted and reliable partner. ” – Ethel Torres

Seeing the impact of our work offers very rewarding moments! “I remember feeling so proud of our role in helping a physician gain access to a medication for a 2-year-old little boy suffering from a respiratory condition. Every step of the process was handled with the utmost care with that little boy in mind, from sourcing the product all the way through packaging and delivery. It is so rewarding when you know your efforts made a difference in someone’s well-being.”.

Ethel learned about the MBDA EWOC Certification Training Cohort 3B through an email she received from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Despite being Women-Owned certified in North Carolina, she was looking to participate to increase her understanding of how government contracting works. “I am looking to obtain state and federal contracts. It is very important to be selective in choosing contract(s) we can execute with excellence. We must be known as a partner who is trustworthy and reliable. We’ve worked hard to earn that reputation with our over overseas customers, and we want to maintain that same reputation with government agencies as well!”. Ethel extends her gratitude towards the resources and organizations, such as MBDA EWOC, to help NDS grow as a business and get one step closer towards its goals!

Ethel’s piece of advice to aspiring women small business owners:

“Sometimes as women, we allow self-defeating thoughts to get into our heads, thinking we cannot possibly do it all as a mom, wife, spouse, daughter, and so on, with the multiple hats we often wear. Keep the faith and never give up. Reach out to your network and ask for help! Many people are willing to reach out and give you that assistance. The biggest advice is to tap into all the resources you can because our country is so rich in resources. Tap into organizations like the MBDA EWOC Business Center or the local SBA offices or if you’re an exporting company, tap into your local District Export Councils (DEC). Tap into as many as you can and use them to plot out your business. Take steps each day to move forward. Don’t ever waste a mistake! When you fail, take what you learned, and always get up again!

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