India: Good Endings, Good Beginnings! - Pharmaceutical Executive


India: Good Endings, Good Beginnings!

Pharmaceutical Executive


Sandeep Gupta, MD, Chairman of Eli Lilly
To sustain and grow market share in India's challenging environment, having a compelling value proposition may be sufficient. Today, such a proposition will inevitably have to take into account the shifting disease profiles of the Indian population. Sandeep Gupta, managing director of Eli Lilly India, explains, "Not too long ago, the focus used to be primarily on battling acute illnesses. And while this still remains a major burden, what we are now seeing is that chronic or lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (so far considered to be the domain of the Western world) have become more rampant here." Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indeed point to an estimated 50.8 million patients, making India home to the world's largest diabetes population. "This shift towards chronic or lifestyle diseases," Gupta continues, "has led to an ever-increasing number of tie-ups between large Indian and Big Pharma companies across the value chain, from the early stage research to demand realization or commercialization." Elaborating on Lilly's business strategy, Gupta remarks, "Until a few years ago, Lilly used to actively pursue the Fully Integrated Pharmaceutical Company (FIPCO) strategy. That was a time when everything used to be done in-house. We have gradually moved to a more efficient strategy called Fully Integrated Pharmaceutical Network (FIPNET), a system of interconnected partnerships with external organizations, giving Lilly the ability to execute projects by the right people, at the right cost, in the right time. This way, we are able to access the assets, resources, and expertise that help to manage costs and increase the flow and value of products with the overall objective of improving patient outcomes."

Companies active in the chronic disease segment will agree that delivering value requires a persistent and sustained presence in the Indian market. Melvin Oscar D'souza, India's managing director of Denmark-based leading global diabetes care company Novo Nordisk, elaborates on how the company has traditionally entered markets very early. "In a chronic therapy segment like diabetes, you need to create sustainable value for your end users," D'souza says. "Early market entry and working with sustainable plans that genuinely serve the patients have helped build our franchise." With diabetes II-related expenses now amounting to 2.1% of the annual healthcare budget, according to Bloomberg, India's center and state governments have come to realize the importance of tackling the pandemic early. In cooperation with the private sector, various initiatives to facilitate early detection and prevention, including education, have been put in place. The Novo Nordisk Education Foundation, for example, has been in place since 1997. The early-mover advantage goes hand in hand with the continuous launch of Novo Nordisk's most innovative and revolutionary products. To illustrate, Victoza (liraglutide) has such a strong product profile that it managed to capture 80% market share in the GLP-1 segment in the first six months after its launch in June 2010. "If we are truly talking about changing diabetes, I see Victoza as another step on that route. Victoza allows us to reach patients early in the treatment cascade and help to effectively control the disorders," D'souza explains.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, MD, Chairman of Biocon
Chairman and managing director Krishna Ella runs his Bharat Biotech from India's first biopharmaceutical cluster across Hyderabad, City of Pearls, the sixth-most-populous city in the country. As a first-generation entrepreneur, Ella hopes that clusters such as Genome Valley can change the current state of Indian biotech. "We need more avenues in the country to support an ecosystem, opposite of the biosimilar model. Government policy is one thing, but you also need visionary entrepreneurs to create an innovative spirit of competition," he says. Some societies have people that run faster than their rules and laws can keep up, and India, with its indigenous entrepreneurs, falls into this category. In Bangalore, 350 miles south of Hyderabad, self-made entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has shown that the biosimilar model has indeed been an interesting area to be in. From a garage in 1978, she has grown Biocon into a global biopharmaceutical company of approximately $500 million, and has personally been included in Time's Top 100 Most Influential People in the World. "The entrepreneurial spirit of India is what built this company," she says.

Kunchithapatham Shivkumar, director the pharmaceutical division of German-based Merck KGaA in India, has high expectations for biosimilars. "An example is our flagship product, Gonal-f, a recombinant follicle-stimulating hormone for fertility, for which there exist four to five biosimilar versions developed by companies such as Reliance and Lupin," he says. "These are companies that have even succeeded at reverse engineering in a complex area such as biotechnology. I therefore see no reason why MNCs cannot partner with them to source products in India, and possibly take them to other markets too. This is one particular area that has become extremely important for the Merck Group."

Ajit Kamath, MD, Chairman of Arch Pharmalabs
While one may in the first place expect India's entrepreneurs to battle for market share with national counterparts, Claris Lifesciences shows that targeting the right niche may well limit local competition. The company's visionary entrepreneur, managing director, and CEO Arjun Handa, ascribes the company's success to two factors: "On the one hand, we have had a first-mover advantage in product development, and on the other hand, we have managed to scale up our products significantly." Now competing with the world's largest international players such as Baxter and Hospira, Handa has successfully managed to take his high-quality, low-cost injectables to 76 countries.


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