Global ‘Contract Research and Manufacturing Services’ (CRAMS) – a new growth opportunity for mid-cap Indian pharmaceutical companies… Are we ready?

Intense competition within global pharmaceutical industry, patent expiries of blockbuster drugs, ballooning R&D costs together with low R&D productivity, more and more stringent regulatory standards coupled with intense cost containment measures are exerting intense pressure on the bottom lines of the global pharmaceutical companies. The situation, which is continuing for quite some time from now has triggered two important strategic business considerations:1. A rapid consolidation process through ‘mega mergers’ and ‘mega acquisitions’ while medium to smaller M&As continued mostly with an intent to bridge strategic business gaps.2. Increase in interest towards ‘Business Processes Outsourcing’ initiatives of various scales and types, which include contract manufacturing and contract research to lower cost countries with clear objectives of saving both cost and time.

Such a situation has given rise to the evolution of Contract Research and Manufacturing Services, popularly known as CRAMS, especially in countries like India and China.

India is fast emerging as one of the key outsourcing hubs for contract research and global formulations manufacturing activities by improving its manufacturing standards through global benchmarking and simultaneously honing its competitive edge.

CRAMS market – Global and Local:

In 2006 the global market for CRAMS was reported to be of US$52 billion, which is expected to grow to US$76 billion by 2010.

However, the CRAMS market in India was just around US$1.00 billion in 2006, which is expected to grow to around US$3.50 billion by 2010, with an estimated CAGR of around 38% during the period.

Contract Research Market:

In 2006, including clinical trials with data management, contract research market in India was estimated to be around US$370 million with an annual growth of around 45%. In that year out of total contract research market, clinical trials activities contributed over 50%, closely followed by pre-clinical trials with a contribution of around 30%. Custom synthesis together with chemistry and biology related R&D activities contributed balance 18% of the contract research market.

Contract Manufacturing market:

In 2007, the global market for contract manufacturing was around U.S$26 billion. The market is estimated to be of U.S$40 billion in 2011 registering a CAGR of around 12%.

Contract manufacturing market in India was reported to be of U.S$ 660 million with an annual growth of 48% in 2007. However, both India and China are expected to grow faster during this period with a CAGR of around 20% because of availability of skilled human resource and world class manufacturing facilities.

The global market for contract manufacturing is highly fragmented. The market share of top 10 companies in this field is just around 30%. As Catalent Pharma Solutions, USA is the largest contract manufacturer of the world with a turnover of U.S$1.8 billion in 2007; Piramal Healthcare is the largest contract manufacturer in India, which has registered a growth of over 30% in 2007-08. In the field of biotechnology Lonza of Switzerland is the largest contract manufacturer with a growth of over 75% in 2007.

Key Services provided by the CRAMS in India:

Contract Manufacturing Organizations:

They provide mainly:

• Manufacturing capacities to the global pharmaceutical companies
• Formulations development
• Value-added services like process development and process optimization

Contract Research Organizations:

They provide services mainly related to:

• Drug discovery
• Pre-clinical and clinical trial management

The Growth Divers for CRAMS business:

• Collaboration with global pharmaceutical companies in various areas of manufacturing, like local country-specific packaging of finished formulations from bulk packs imported from the originator, to complete manufacturing of the finished formulations, including supply of indigenously made raw material as per originators specifications.

• Outsourcing of formulations of off-patent molecules by the global companies to effectively compete with generics, as has happened between Pfizer and Aurobindo Pharma of Hyderabad, India.

• Expertise in cost-effective custom synthesis for global innovator companies of various scales of operation.

• Clear and sharp focus on CRAMS business by constantly improving manufacturing and supply chain management efficiencies. As is currently being practised by Piramal Healthcare. They have already spun off their R&D activities into a separate legal entity to unleash its commercial potential.

• Anytime readiness for audit of the approved site/s by any global regulator.

CRAMS space in India offers an emerging growth opportunity of global scale, especially to mid-cap domestic pharmaceutical companies. Many of these companies are still engaged in their old business model of the old paradigm of pre-IPR regime – manufacturing and marketing of generic brands and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API). This business model can still work. But not without its huge inherent risk of continuous heavy pressure on the bottom lines due to intense cut-throat competition.

A strategic shift in the business model by those mid cap Indian pharmaceutical companies, who have wherewithal of creating world class CRAMS facilities for their global collaborators, would, to a great extent, be able to insulate their current high risk generic brands or API manufacturing and marketing business. At the same time, it will be quite possible for them to register a decent business growth by availing the emerging opportunities of the new paradigm of post IPR regime-CRAMS.

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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