Seeing ghosts where there aren’t any

Seeing ghosts almost everywhere in the Indian pharmaceutical industry, especially where there aren’t any, has indeed become quite common nowadays, across the spectrum of stakeholders. The ‘ghosts’ could well reside in ‘100% Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) through automatic route in the pharmaceutical sector’ or ‘threat to the generic industry of the country by the MNCs’ or ‘abysmal Intellectual Property environment vitiating investment climate of the global players’ or even presence of ‘invisible foreign hands’ in shaping important policies of the country, just to name a few.

“Seeing ghosts”: Both from inside and outside the country:

The incidence of encountering with ‘ghosts’, from both inside and outside the country, would possibly increase further as the economic attractiveness of India in general and pharmaceutical consumption in the country in particular, will keep growing fast in the years ahead.

India attracting:

Currently McKinsey & Company in its report titled, “India Pharma 2020: Propelling access and acceptance, realizing true potential”, estimates that the Indian Pharmaceuticals Market (IPM) will record a turnover of US$ 55 billion in 2020 from around US$ 12.1 billion in 2011. The report further highlights that with aggressive growth boosters it is quite possible to make the IPM attain a turnover of US $70 billion during the same period. Rapid urbanization, increasing accessibility to drugs due to expansion of healthcare infrastructure, fast growing rural markets, increasing resource allocation to public health, patented products, consumer healthcare, biologics and vaccines will be the key growth drivers for the industry.

The burning issue of affordability for healthcare is expected to be addressed by 650 million people coming under health insurance and additional 73 million people getting added to middle and upper class segments by 2020.

All ‘ghost’ seeing are not unjustifiable:

In this evolving scenario, ‘encounter with ghosts’ in some areas may perhaps be justifiable, especially, within the country. Commensurate justifiable measures will require to be put in place to allay those justifiable fears.

Recent India visit of two global iconoclasts:

However, last week, when India witnessed visits of two global CEOs of two global pharmaceutical majors, Andrew Witty of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Chris Viehbacher of Sanofi, from the media reports it appeared to me  that we are made to see ‘ghosts’ in some of the key areas of the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry, where there aren’t infact any. As per media reports, both Witty and Viehbacher, who are also Chairpersons of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), respectively, articulated great commitments of their respective companies to India by aligning their business goals with the national healthcare policy and objectives of the country.

Long term commitment to India:

 

Last year Andrew Witty dedicated the new Albendazole manufacturing facility of GSK at Nashik in India to the ‘Global Program Filariasis’ to the ‘World Health Organization (WHO)’ being the largest drug donation program in the history of global pharmaceutical industry.

Early October this year during his visit to Mumbai, Witty reiterated in unequivocal terms that the cost of around US$ 2 billion to innovate and develop a successful drug is unacceptable to him as it includes to a large extent the cost of failure in that endeavor.  “We need to fail less often and succeed more often”, he said while emphasizing that the global pharmaceutical industry needs to metamorphose and must learn to strike a right balance between the cost of R&D projects and delivering innovative medicines to the patients at affordable prices.

Witty also mentioned that GSK globally follows a tiered pricing strategy, linked to the economic conditions of the individual countries. He feels that pharmaceutical product price should be commensurate to per capita income of a nation.

Without any hesitation Andrew Witty said that India will be one of the most prominent markets among the emerging economies that the global drug makers are concentrating now.

Closely followed by Andrew Witty’s visit to India, another iconoclast Christopher A Viehbacher, global CEO of Sanofi stepped into our soil and announced that Sanofi will invest US$ 300 million in a “state-of-the-art” manufacturing plant and R&D initiatives of Shantha Biotechnics in Hyderabad to make it the biggest vaccine plant of Asia not only to cater to the needs of India, but also to reach affordable vaccines across the globe.

Viehbacher emphasized that Sanofi wants to continue to build its long term business in India because of its market attractiveness. Like Witty, he emphasized that Sanofi strategy is also to have affordable medicines in emerging markets like India so that people can afford to pay for.

He reportedly reiterated, “I do not want us to be a colonial company with a colonial approach where we say we decide on the strategy and pricing. If you have to compete locally then the pricing strategy cannot be decided in Paris but will have to be in the marketplace. People here will decide on the pricing strategy and we have to develop a range of products for it”.

Viehbacher feels that emerging markets including India are expected to account for 40% sales of Sanofi by 2015.

Conclusion:

October 2011 India visit of these two visionaries of the global pharmaceutical industry, reinforced the fact that in many areas of the Indian Pharma sector we fancy to see “Ghosts where there aren’t any”, just as it happens outside the shores of India with equal intensity, gusto and zest.

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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