Europe: now emerging as a more preferred market for the domestic Indian Pharmaceutical Industry

Since almost last 30 years the Pharmaceutical Industry of India has been a net foreign exchange earner. Deutche Bank Researchindicates that over the last ten years the export surplus has widened from EUR 370 million to EUR 2 billion.Around 80% of these pharmaceuticals manufactured in India are sold to the US and Europedriven by higher purchasing power of the people in those countries and also due to recent regulatory changes towards greater cost containment initiatives by the respective governments.
Europe – a preferred destination for Indian Pharmaceutical companies:

In the quagmire of global recession, prompted by increasing pricing pressure with consequent pressure on the bottom-line, many Indian pharmaceutical companies have started increasing their focus on Europe. The European generics market is now growing faster than overcrowded US generics market.

Top domestic Indian pharmaceutical Companies like Ranbaxy, Sun Pharma, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Glenmark, Wockhardt and Aurobindo whose performance is highly dependent on their revenues from the US and Europe perhaps will need to have a sharper look at both western and eastern Europe.

It has been reported that because of higher volume penetration of over 55% of generics pharmaceuticals in Europe, which is significantly higher than US, Europe offers an attractive and better growth opportunities to the Indian pharmaceutical companies in the medium to longer term. Companies like Ranbaxy, Wockhardt and Aurobindo have already reported to have started showing higher revenue growth in Europe than USA.

Major merger and Acquisition (M&A) initiatives of the Indian pharmaceutical companies in Europe augur well towards this direction. Ranbaxy has already acquired companies in France, Belgium, Romania and Zydus Cadila in France. DRL purchased Betapharm in Germany.

Inorganic growth will demand a more cautious approach:

However, the path of M&A by Indian pharmaceutical companies should be treaded with more caution. The case in point is Wockhardt, which grew with a scorching pace of over 30% on an average for several years in the recent past driven by its inorganic growth strategy. In 2006-07 Wockhardt acquired two companies in Europe, one in Ireland and the other in France. Unfortunately, the company could not manage its rapid growth through such M&A as efficiently for long and got entangled in a debt trap of around Rs. 34,000 crore in that process.

Converting problems into opportunities:

Global financial meltdown throws open an opportunity for the Indian pharmaceutical companies to acquire the distressed specialty pharmaceutical companies at a very competitive price in Europe. Many small pharmaceutical companies in Europe are now looking to sell their facilities because of difficulty in maintaining their business arising out of higher operating costs.

In such a scenario after acquiring a company in those countries, the Indian acquirer will have an opportunity to transfer the manufacturing operations to India, where the costs are much lower, keeping just the marketing operations there.

A report from The Economic Times (ET) indicates that Pharmaceutical majors like Zydus Cadilla are looking for acquisition in Spain and Italy and Glenmark in the Eastern Europe. Kemwell of Bangalore has recently acquired the manufacturing plant of Pfizer located in Sweden and has expressed intention to shift their manufacturing operations to India to concentrate only on marketing with the acquired local infrastructure.

Just at the same time and for the same reasons many global pharmaceutical companies plan to outsource their manufacturing requirements from India and China retaining the R&D and marketing operations with them.

Increasing attention on Eastern Europe:

According to PMR, the Polish Market Research company, countries like Ukraine, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia and Romania are quite attractive for pharmaceuticals business in the Eastern Europe.

In that part of the world, Russia, Romania and Ukraine have been dominating in terms of sustained high growth since last five years. Acquisition of a local company will provide the best option for quick entry into these markets, recommends PMR.


Global financial meltdown has thrown open many doors of opportunities for rapid entry into both eastern and western European markets by the Indian pharmaceutical companies for better future growth potential. I am sure the domestic pharmaceutical companies will carefully evaluate these opportunities to take appropriate action to catapult themselves to a higher business growth trajectory in the years to come by.

Tapan Ray

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.

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