Key business strategies of global pharmaceutical industry are undergoing a radical change, while in India we are still thinking within the box. Who cares about the global clue?

One of the leading consulting companies, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in its report of June 2007 titled “Pharma 2020: The vision –Which path will you take?” postulated that the business model followed by the global pharmaceutical companies is, “economically unsustainable and operationally incapable of acting quickly enough to produce the types of innovative treatments demanded by global markets”.
R&D is failing to deliver:Datamonitor highlighted that drugs worth U.S$ 140 billion will go off patent by 2016. Thus the value turnover that will be lost because of number of drugs going off-patent will be almost impossible to replace by this time. Many analysts have been expressing concerns about gradual but steady decline in pharmaceutical R&D productivity since quite some time. During this period, most of the research based companies could afford only a small increase in their R&D budget, while marketing and other overhead expenditures registered a significant increase.

Single global process of Drug Regulatory approval…is possible…but is it probable?

PwC in the same report touched upon another interesting possibility within the R&D space of the global pharmaceutical industry. It indicated that the research based pharmaceutical companies will gradually switch over from, “Classic model of drug development that ends in regulatory approval to ‘live licenses’ that allow for narrow product launches followed by gradually expanding approvals as drugs are continuously tested.”

Most interestingly, the report also forecasted that by 2020, the drug regulators across the world will work together under a collaborative framework to arrive at uniform and single global process of drug regulatory approval. If it materializes, the process will indeed be path breaking in every sense.

Global pharmaceutical market will register significant growth:

Following this trend, the report highlighted, that the global pharmaceutical sales will touch U.S$ 1.3 trillion by 2020, almost double of what it is today. High growth of emerging markets and the aging global population are expected to be the key growth drivers.

During this period E7 countries like, Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia are expected to contribute around 20% of Global Pharmaceutical turnover. Keeping pace with the economic progress, the disease pattern of these countries are also changing, from infectious diseases to non-infectious chronic illnesses, like diabetes, hypertension, just as we now observe in the developed world.

Together with this change, many predict that ‘greenhouse effect’ arising out of global warming process will have significant impact on health of the global population, resulting in large scale re-emergence of diseases like malaria and cholera together with various types of respiratory disorders.

Radical change is envisaged in pharmaceuticals marketing:

In April 2009, PwC came out with another interesting report titled, “Pharma 2020: Challenging business models, which path will you take?” on the future of the global pharmaceutical industry.

As the time progresses global pharmaceutical companies will need to understand the shift in ‘perceived value’ that is taking place within patients, medical profession and the community as a whole towards healthcare delivery. Just an innovative medicine will no longer be able to satisfy their ‘value expectations’. Pharmaceutical companies will have to offer a ‘bundle of benefits’, combining the innovative products with related health services, for which the market will not hesitate to pay a reasonable premium.

Thus in future, global pharmaceutical companies will need to collaborate with disease management specialists for a “holistic offering” to address an ailment rather than just treatment of the disease with medicines. Such “value added and innovative” marketing strategies will differentiate business success from failure, in 2020.

In the recent report PwC advocates that to be successful, in future, global pharmaceutical companies will need to change their ball game almost radically. The future strategy will focus on collaborative arrangements between various allied healthcare establishments and the pharmaceutical companies to offer a “holistic solution” to the patients in all disease areas.

That means, global manufacturer of an anti-diabetic drug will need to offer along with the innovative drug, counseling on diet regimen, suggesting exercise programs and their follow-up, reminders for regular and timely intake of medicines and many more. Who knows?

“Better late than never”:

In any case, to excel in business at a time when the global pharmaceutical business model is undergoing a fundamental shift; there is a need to keep on investing more towards R&D, which will continue to remain the ultimate growth engine of pharmaceutical business, the world over. At the same time, there will be a dire need to prune expenditure in innovative ways and that opens the door for global outsourcing of various business processes from most cost efficient countries having world class facilities.

Domestic pharmaceutical players, if start mustering all resources to avail these global opportunities, India can soon become a global hub for pharmaceuticals outsourcing, outracing China which is currently placed ahead of India, in this field. As the good old saying goes, I shall always wish, “better late than never”.

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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