Explore the Emerging Markets with the ‘Wings of Courage’.

Overall growth rate of the global pharmaceutical industry is currently hovering around 5%. Similar situation has been prevailing since last several years. There is no indication of acceleration of growth rate from any of the top 3 regions of the world namely the USA, EU and Japan, at least in the near future.

According to IMS, the global pharmaceutical market is expected to grow around 5%-7% in 2011 to US$ 880 billion, as compared to around 4%-5% of 2010.

The reasons of the slowdown, I have discussed several times in the past through this column and do not intend to dwell on that, at least, in this Article.

The Emerging Markets of the World:

Unlike developed markets, emerging pharmaceuticals market of the world, like, India, China, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Turkey and Korea, are showing a robust growth rate, quite commensurate to the ascending GDP growth trend of these countries.

According to IMS, the projected CAGR trend of the developed and Emerging Markets for the period of 2007–11, are as follows:

Mature Markets

CAGR 2007-11

Emerging Markets

CAGR 2007-11
USA 4-7% China 13-16%
Canada 6-9% Korea 8-11%
Japan 2-5% Brazil 9-12%
Germany 3-6% Russia 17-20%
France 2-5% Mexico 6-9%
Italy 3-6% India 11-14%
UK 4-7% Turkey 9-12%
Spain 5-8%

(Source IMS)

Branded Generics/Generics are now key growth drivers in the Emerging Markets:

It is worth noting, unlike the developed markets of the world, where high priced branded patented drugs drive the value growth of the industry, in the emerging markets, where investment towards R&D is relatively less, branded generic and the generic products are the key growth drivers.

Such an evolving situation has prompted large global majors like Pfizer, GSK, Sanofi-aventis, Daiichi Sankyo and Abbott Laboratories, to name a few, either to acquire large generic or Biosimilar drug companies or ink various interesting and win-win collaborative deals, in these markets, to maintain their respective business growth with the branded generic and generic products in the fast growing emerging markets of the world.

Will Emerging Markets be lucrative enough only with Generic and Branded Generic products, in the long run?

Some experts do feel that, in the long run, the emerging pharmaceutical markets, like India, may not prove to be as lucrative to the global pharmaceutical majors.

The key reason being, around 80% ‘out of pocket’ expenditure for medicines in India, could be the key impediment to expanded access to higher priced innovative medicines, in general. Such a situation could seriously limit the success of branded patented drugs in India following their global strategy, compared to the developed markets of the world. The issue of affordability of such medicines will continue to be a key factor for their improved access in India, if the ground reality remains unchanged. Top line business growth only with Generics and Branded Generics in the emerging markets may not be sustainable enough, in the long run, for the innovator companies to adequately fund their R&D initiatives to meet the unmet needs of the patients.

The other school of thought:

The other school of thought, however, argues that ‘out-of pocket” characteristic of  India is indeed more sustainable in terms of cost containment pressure, than those  markets where the government or health insurance companies cover a large part of the medical expenses for the population.

Every year around 1% of population comes above the poverty line in India together with a growing ‘middle income’ segment with increasing purchasing power. This cycle, in turn, will keep fueling the growth of healthcare space, contributing significantly to the progress of the pharmaceutical industry of the country.

‘One size fits all’ global strategy unlikely to succeed in the ‘Emerging Markets’:

In my view ‘One size fits all’ type of strategy, especially in the area of pricing, is unlikely to succeed in the emerging markets of the world. Pharmaceutical Companies will need to have  different types of ‘tailor made’ strategic approaches for markets like Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Mexico, Korea and Turkey.

Pricing Strategy will be a key determinant to success:

For better access to medicines, ‘differential pricing strategy’ has been the stated policy of large global companies like, GSK and MSD. If this trend continues, a win-win situation could be created, when unmet needs of a large number of patient groups could be met with innovative medicines, paving the way for the innovator companies to register a healthy, both top and bottom line, business growth in these markets to effectively fund their R&D projects, besides others.

The most successful brand launch in India, so far:

The credit for the most successful new patented product launch (launched in 2008) in the recent times, I reckon, should go to Januvia (Sitagliptin), an oral anti-diabetic molecule from the global major MSD. The reported global sales of Januvia in 2008 was US $1.4 billion and the sales reported in India was around Rs. 77 Crore (around US $17 million) in just over two years with around 2.4% market share in the large and fragmented Oral Ant-Diabetic segment (IMS, MAT March 2010). This could happen, in my view, not only due to a brilliant business strategy executed with military precision but also because of a differential pricing strategy adopted by the company for this particular product in India.

In recent times, it has not been difficult to record a turnover of around US $ 20 – 25 million by a large pharmaceutical brand either in India or China.

Conclusion:

If this does not happen, due to one reason or the other, it would arguably be quite challenging for the global innovators to be able to keep engaged in the high-cost and high-risk R&D initiatives, by driving their business growth mainly with generic and branded generic medicines in the fast growing emerging markets of the world.

Thus the name of the game for the global innovator companies will be to Explore the Emerging Markets with the ‘Wings of Courage’.

By: Tapan J 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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