Just Born A Pharma Goliath: Would India Be Impacted?

Just born a potential pharma Goliath, as Actavis – the Dublin-based one of the largest global generic drug makers, in its biggest ever purchase, acquires New York based R&D based pharma major – Forest Laboratories, for a whopping US$ 25 billion.

It is worth noting that as on date Actavis has grown mainly through Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) route. In 2012, the company took over American generic drug major Watson Pharma for €4.5 bn and then Ireland’s Warner Chilcott, marketing patented drugs for gastrointestinal and urological conditions, for US $8.5 bn. Post buy out of Forest Laboratories, Actavis would have annual sales turnover of US$15 bn.

So far, mostly R&D based Pharma players acquired generic drug makers:

This acquisition is interesting. The reason being, since the last few years, mostly research based global pharmaceutical companies are taking over generic pharma players in the emerging markets with a reasonable speed. To cite a few examples:

In June, 2010, British drug major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced acquisition of ‘Phoenix’, a leading Argentine pharmaceutical company focused on the development, manufacturing and marketing of branded generic products, for a cash consideration of around US $253 million. With this acquisition, GSK planned to accelerate its business growth in Argentina and the Latin American region.

Similarly, Paris based Sanofi with the acquisition of Zentiva, became an important player in the European generic drug market. Zentiva, is also a leading generic player in the Czech, Turkish, Romanian, Polish, Slovak and Russian markets, besides the Central and Eastern European region. In addition to Zentiva, in the same year 2009, Sanofi also acquired other two important generic players, Medley in Brazil and Kendrick in Mexico.

In February 2014, the German Drug major Bayer reportedly announced that it would buy Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co of China, expanding the German company’s footprint in a key growth country. Dihon’s products are also sold in Nigeria, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. Privately held Dihon specializes in ‘Over-The-Counter (OTC)’ and herbal ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)’ products.

Back home, MNCs acquired the following generic companies from 2006 to 2011:

Year Indian Companies Multinational Companies

Value ($Mn)

Type of Deal
2006 Matrix Labs Mylan 736 Acquisition
2008 Ranbaxy Labs Daiichi Sankyo 4,600 Acquisition
Dabur Pharma Fresenius Kabi 219 Acquisition
2009 Shantha Biotech Sanofi-aventis 783 Acquisition
2010 Orchid Chemicals Hospira 400 Acquisition
Piramal Healthcare Abbott 3,720 Acquisition
Paras Pharma Reckitt Benckiser 726 Acquisition
2011 Universal Medicare Sanofi 110 Acquisition
2013 Mylan Agila Specialities 1750 Acquisition

Key drivers for generic acquisition:

From 2012 to 2015 patented drugs with a combined turnover of US$ 183 billion have already faced or would face intense generic competition resulting in, as high as, around 90 percent price erosion for those products. It is not just patent expirations that are exerting pressure on innovator companies. Added to this, a relatively weak R&D pipeline and increasing focus of various governments to reduce healthcare costs, have forced many research based global pharma players to imbibe the inorganic growth strategy in the generic space to quickly grab a sizable share of this large and fast growing market, especially in the emerging economies of the world.

Actavis acquisition is different:

In the above light Actavis’s acquisition of Forest Laboratories is quite different. Here, instead of a predominantly research-based company’s acquiring a generic player, a basically generic drug major has bought a research based global pharmaceutical player.

Interestingly, Forest Laboratories follows a unique R&D model. It is focused on, instead of discovering on its own, identifying strong medically relevant product candidates and guiding them through the complex development lifecycle, from proof-of-concept through post-marketing.

Strong global portfolio of both generic and patented drugs:

Post buy out, Actavis would have a strong combo-portfolio of generic drugs together with a relatively robust line-up of a diverse range of patented products, spanning across therapy areas such as Anti-Infective, Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Central Nervous System, Gastrointestinal, Obstetrics and Pain Management and that too not just in the emerging markets, but globally, unlike many others.

In addition, acquisition of Forest Laboratories would also provide Actavis access to former’s large US sales teams, transforming the merged entity a formidable force to reckon with in the topmost pharmaceutical market of the world, besides many others.

An intriguing recent decision:

That said, it is interesting to note that in January 2014, Actavis, then the second-biggest generic drug maker by market capitalization, announced that it would quit China as “It is not a business friendly environment… China is just too risky”. This is indeed intriguing, because by 2015, China’s generic market is expected to be close to US$ 82 billion.

Be that as it may, post acquisition Actavis would be in a position to offer all its customers in all the markets of the world a rainbow of products from patented to generics, carving out a critical strategic advantage for itself in the global pharmaceutical market.

Impact in India:

The question now boils down to what would be the impact of the just born Goliath on the domestic pharmaceutical industry in India.

Differentiated generic business:

The generic drugs market is usually classified as simple generics, super-generics and biosimilars. To differentiate, by adding value in the generic medicines, many domestic players are gradually entering into the ‘Super Generic’ and ‘biosimilar’ category of drugs. For example, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has reportedly chosen to go for a difficult to copy drug formulation with its blood-thinner Fondaparinux. Sun Pharma, on the other hand, is focusing on innovative delivery platforms for its ophthalmic drugs and oral contraceptives. Cadila is looking at newer drug delivery modes for its painkiller Diclofenac. So is Lupin in other areas. In the biosimilar arena, Biocon has already developed Trastuzumab formulation of Roche. Moreover, the biosimilar business of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories continues with its impressive growth trend, besides many other Indian players in the same fray.

Simultaneously, India is improving its effectiveness in ‘Contract Research and Manufacturing Services (CRAMS) space. As we have recently witnessed in India the alliances between Merck & Co and Cipla and earlier with Sun Pharma. Even prior to that, collaborative agreements of Pfizer with Aurobindo Pharma; GSK with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories; Abbott India with Cadila and many more, would vindicate this point.

Merck Serono of Germany also announced a partnership to co-develop a portfolio of biosimilar compounds in oncology, primarily focused on monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. The partnership covers co-development, manufacturing and commercialization of the compounds around the globe, with some specific country exceptions. Mylan has also signed similar agreement with Biocon.

Glenmark Pharma has chosen yet another route, by entering into collaboration with Forest Laboratories (now Actavis) in 2013, for the development of a novel mPGES-1 inhibitor for chronic inflammatory conditions, including pain management.

Advantage India, provided…

Global generic drugs market would get its next booster dose with reportedly around 46 drugs going off patent opening a market of another US$ 66 billion from monopolistic to intense generic competition in 2015.

Details of ANDA status from the US-FDA source, as I indicated in my earlier blog post, probably indicate that several Indian players have already started moving in that direction at a brisk pace, keeping their eyes well fixed on the crystal ball. Over 30 percent of Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs) and around half of the total Drug Master Filings (DMF) now come from the Indian Companies. In 2013 alone, the US-FDA granted 154 ANDAs and 38 tentative ANDAs to the Indian companies.

Despite all these, a serious apprehension does creep in, which finds its root in much-publicized fraudulent behavior of a few large Indian drug manufacturers, seriously compromising with the cGMP standards of some high profile global drug regulators. This challenge has to be overcome, sooner, to reap rich harvest out of the emerging global opportunities in the space of generic drugs.


Geographically, North America is the largest consumer of generic drugs followed by Europe and Japan. However, the highest growth of the generic drugs market is observed in the Asia-Pacific region. Besides Actavis, some of the major generic drugs manufacturers of the world are Mylan, Apotex, Hospira, Par Pharmaceutical., Sandoz International and Teva Pharmaceutical.

From India, Ranbaxy Laboratories (before the recent fiasco), Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Lupin and Sun Pharma, besides many others, are competing quite well in the global generic drugs market with success.

Though Actavis has its manufacturing operations in India with its registered office located in Mumbai, the company is not yet engaged in serious local marketing operations in the country. In 2006 as Watson Pharma Pvt Ltd., the company acquired Sekhsaria Chemicals in a move to push forward its generic drug agenda globally. In 2005, it acquired a manufacturing facility in Goa from Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories to produce solid dosage generic drugs for the US market.

Taking all these into considerations, if much deliberated cGMP issues with the foreign drug regulators are resolved sooner, Actavis is not expected to make any major difference for Indian pharma players either in the domestic market or for that matter globally, any time soon.

Thus Indian pharma players are unlikely to be adversely impacted with the emergence of this new potential Goliath in the global pharmaceutical landscape.

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.

India as a global pharmaceutical outsourcing hub: Some key advantages and the areas of improvement.

All over the world, pharmaceutical research and development pipelines are gradually getting dried up. Lesser and lesser blockbuster drugs are now coming up from the ‘mind to the market’. Currently the average annual turnover of over 90% of patented drugs is around US $150 million each. At the same time regulatory requirements to obtain the marketing approval are becoming more and more stringent, spiralling the R&D costs of the innovator companies very significantly.
The name of the game:

In today’s perspective of the global pharmaceutical industry, ‘competitive efficiency’ in speed of implementation of various projects and optimizing costs of operations, can be easily considered as the ‘name of the game’.
Such competitive efficiency is as much essential for a relatively quick turnaround from ‘the mind to market’ of New Chemical Entities (NCEs) or New Molecular Entities (NMEs), to reducing manufacturing costs through various outsourcing opportunities and/or innovative application of technology and spreading geographical marketing operational network.

Towards this direction, ‘Business Process Outsourcing’ in R&D, manufacturing, clinical trials etc. is now gradually emerging as one of the most critical ways to achieve this important objective. It is expected that gradually outsourcing of specialized manufacturing like, biopharmaceutical and sterile manufacturing and specialized processes like, improvements in catalyst activity, will be gaining grounds.

India is emerging as a potential outsourcing hub:

India is fast emerging as a key player in the outsourcing business of the global companies, with its high quality facilities, world class services at a very competitive cost, in various areas of pharmaceutical business operations. India is not only a vibrant democracy, it has now a good Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) system in place and offers very significant cost advantages both in contract research and contract manufacturing space, as compared to many other countries.

Many Indian pharmaceutical companies are scaling up their capacities and investing in establishing more number of world class facilities. Currently India has over 100 pharmaceutical plants approved by the US foods and drugs administration. Incidentally this number is the largest outside the USA.

The key advantages:

India with its total pharmaceutical market size of around US $ 14 billion offers both value and cost arbitrage, which are as follows:

1. Familiarity with the regulatory environment and requirements of the developed markets

2. Extensive global operations in the generics business

3. World class facilities

4. Lower employee wages

5. Large number of young workforce

6. High capacity of skilled labour (350,000 engineers/year)

7. High quality of engineers, process chemists

8. Low communication barriers due to high levels of English

9. Speed of operation

10. Cost effective IT infrastructure, facilitating all key business processes

Contract research investment strategies of the global companies in India:

Most common investment strategy in the collaborative arrangement is risk-sharing outsourcing co-development of a NCE/NME. For example, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) signed an outsourcing agreement with Advenus Therapeutics of India in November 2008 with a contract value of US $ 247 million including milestone and royalty payments in the areas of inflammation and metabolic diseases. In this contract Advinus will be responsible for development upto ‘the proof of concept’ (Phase II a) and then J&J will take over till commercialization of the molecule.

Areas of improvements:

1. Biotech contract research as a whole

2. Economies of scale in manufacturing products like, recombinant proteins, small interfering Ribonucleic Acid (siRNAs), vaccines, antibodies etc.

3. Fully integrated service offerings in contract research and contract manufacturing

4. In genomics and proteomics research

5. Pre-clinical research

In all these important areas our neighbouring country China seems to score over India


Availability of world class contract research and manufacturing facilities and the ability of the domestic pharmaceutical industry to deliver the agreed deliverables in a cost-efficient manner with desired operational speed, make India a potential contract research and manufacturing hub of the world.

India can expect to compete effectively in these areas with any other countries, including China, provided the improvement areas, as indicated above, are addressed with equal speed of action and with a missionary zeal.

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.

CRAMS opportunities – India is strongly poised, a time to leverage

Cost containment pressures due to various factors have prompted the global pharmaceutical companies to contract out various research related and manufacturing activities, over a period of time, from Europe and North America to low cost destinations like India and China. Such activities started gaining momentum before the turn of the new millennium and have now emerged as huge business opportunities to many domestic Indian pharmaceutical companies. This lucrative business opportunity of ‘Contract Research and manufacturing Services’ is now popularly known in its abbreviated form CRAMS.

Many global pharmaceutical companies have already engaged themselves in the CRAMS space with India and some of them have commenced the pilot programs and are seriously contemplating to offshore a significant part of their research related and manufacturing operations in India.

The Market Size:

Global market for CRAMS was around U.S. $ 55.47 billion in 2007 and is expected to be of U.S $ 76 billion by 2010 with a CAGR of 10%.

Contract research market alone was U.S $16.58 billion with a CAGR of 13.8% and contract manufacturing at U.S $38.89 billion accounted for around 70% of the total global pharmaceutical CRAMS market, according to a study done by Piribo, a Business Intelligence Organization.

According to ASSOCHAM, CRAMS market in India was valued at U.S $532.10 million in 2005, of which contract manufacturing accounted for 84% of the total market and the remaining 16% came from contract research excluding clinical trials, with a growth of over 40% over the previous year.

According to Frost & Sullivan, contract research market in India is estimated to be around U.S $ 1 billion by end 2010.

Preparation started much earlier – unknowingly:

In 1970 when product patent law was abolished to encourage domestic Indian companies to manufacture and market low cost modern medicines in the country, the skill sets to make the best use of this opportunity started developing at a faster pace. Brilliant chemists of India got encouragement to hone their reverse engineering and efficient manufacturing process development skills, which are of immense importance to manufacture low cost medicines in the country. Availability of skilled and high quality technical talent pool at much lower costs together with capital efficiency of the local entrepreneurs further helped the country to acquire cutting edge expertise in the CRAMS space.

CRAMS – not just a bed of roses:

Days of struggle:

CRAMS business cannot be developed overnight. It needs months, if not years of negotiation and fulfilling all technical, financial and regulatory requirements of the innovator companies to commence business.

Days of continuity:

Since financial costs are high and regulatory requirements are stringent to switch over to new outsourcing arrangements, there are very good chances that once CRAMS business is commenced, the partnership with innovator companies will continue for a long time, unless any breach in the supply agreement takes place.

Days of nightmares:

All offshore supply contracts need to be successfully executed within the given timeframe. If not, relationship with the innovator companies may get strained. At the same time, if the innovator company fails to take delivery of the custom made material from the CRAMS partner, costly inventory at the manufacturing location will pile up and consequently precious working capital will get blocked, adversely impacting the manufacturing capacity utilization.

Operating margin:

In CRAMS business operating margins are usually quite good. For patented products margins are generally higher than the products which have gone off patent. The volume of business in CRAMS usually picks up over a period of time.

Contract Research:

While developing a New Chemical Entity (NCE), the research based pharmaceutical companies need smaller quantities of variety of intermediates and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). As the NCE gradually passes through various advancing stages of clinical developmental processes, quantity requirements of such material also increases.

Contract Research outfits develop and deliver such smaller quantities of specific chemicals and intermediates to the innovator companies through custom chemical synthesis (CCS), which usually attracts relatively higher margin .

Although in India early and late stages contract research services are doing well, the segments like medicinal chemistry and bioinformatics with high business potential have not been adequately tapped, as yet.

Key areas of outsourcing in future are expected to be:

• Genomics
• Screening technology platforms
• Therapeutics

Contract Manufacturing:

Contract Manufacturing market for pharmaceuticals spans across mainly USA, Europe and Asia. The market is segmented into solid, liquid and injectable dosage forms. Although sold dosage form covers almost 50% of the total market, injectable forms are registering the fastest growth and the liquid dosage forms being the laggard.

Contract manufacturing in India involves both patented and off-patent APIs and formulations manufactured with world class standards conforming to international regulatory norms like the US-FDA, MHRA- UK, TGA – Australia and EMEA.

India, with more than 100 US FDA-approved manufacturing facilities, is one of the most preferred locations for outsourcing manufacturing services by the global pharmaceutical companies.

Companies like, Divi’s Labs, Jubilant Organosys, Dishman, Piramals, Shasun, Cadila healthcare, Aurobindo are gradually establishing themselves as strong CRAMS players having large global pharmaceutical companies like, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth, Eli Lilyy, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer as their major clients.


In the CRAMS space the key competitor to India is undoubtedly China driven by its economies of scale. Overall manufacturing costs in China, be it labour or power, are much less than India. This has already made China a formidable competitor to India in majority of the bulk drugs and intermediates. Even, many domestic Indian pharmaceutical companies now source their raw materials from China.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers in China, over a period of time, have become quite proficient in filing Drug Master Files (DMF) and Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs). Together with significant cost advantage, China has started making huge progress to capture a sizable share of CRAMS business from the developed markets of the world. Along with China, countries like South Korea and Taiwan are also making considerable progress in this field.

To combat with this threat some Indian pharmaceutical companies have started setting up their businesses in China, collaborating and even acquiring stakes in the Chinese pharmaceutical companies. This process is expected to accelerate further in future.


CRAMS business in India is expected to grow at a rapid pace and offer relatively high operating margins to the Indian pharmaceutical companies. As a result, companies of various scales of operations with interest in CRAMS business, have started initiating all possible measures to prove themselves as the best option for offshore activities of the global players. All these companies are trying to leverage the wide diversity of the country, rich English speaking talent pool and strong manufacturing base in pharmaceuticals created over last four decades. Thus it appears that capturing at least 10% of the global CRAMS market by 2015 may not be a big deal for India.

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.

Contract Research – a rapidly evolving business opportunity in India: Is the Pharmaceutical Industry making the best use of it?

A quick perspective of the ‘new-era’ pharmaceutical R&D in India:
Since 1970 up until 2005, Indian pharmaceutical industry used to be considered as the industry of ‘reverse engineering’ and that too with an underlying disparaging tone… and also as the industry of ‘copycat’ medicines’.

However, it will be absolutely unfair on my part to comment that only domestic Indian pharmaceutical companies launched ‘copycat’ versions of patented products in India and no multinational companies (MNCs) resorted to this practice, during this period.

Long before Indian Product Patent regime was put in place, in January 1, 2005, around 1998/99 Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) entered into a bilateral agreement with Novo Nordisk and Ranbaxy with Bayer of Germany to out-license two New Chemical Entities (NCEs) and a New Drug Delivery System (NDDS), respectively for further development.

Opened the new vistas of opportunities:

These research initiatives opened the new vistas of opportunities for the Indian pharmaceutical industry in terms of R&D, in the pharmaceutical science. The above new developments also brought in a sense of determination within the research oriented domestic pharmaceutical players to enter into the big ticket game of the global pharmaceutical industry called ‘product discovery research’.

The jubilation of the industry having demonstrated its initial capability of taking a leap into forthcoming new paradigm of that time, received a set back momentarily when Novo Nordisk terminated the development of both the NCEs of DRL, after a couple of years, because of scientific reasons. However, DRL continued to move on to its chosen path, undeterred by the initial set back.

Need to focus on R&D and create world class ‘Intellectual Properties’:

In a letter addressed to the shareholders of DRL in one of its recent annual reports, the founder and the chairman of the company Dr. Anji Reddy expressed his following vision:

“Excelling in the basic business operations will be necessary, but not sufficient. To maintain a long-term presence in the global pharmaceuticals markets and to grow profitably will require companies to be even more focused on R&D and creation of successful IPR’s [intellectual property rights].”

After India signed the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement, Indian pharmaceutical companies were quick to make out that the ball game of doing pharmaceutical business in the new IPR regime will be quite different. Having pharmaceutical product patents will indeed be important in future, for the domestic R&D based pharmaceutical companies.

The Past versus Present R&D models in India:

Domestic research based pharmaceutical companies did realize in the early days that a radical shift in their focus from ‘process research’ to ‘product discovery research’ may not be prudent or practical either.

Some of these companies initiated step-wise approach from mid 90’s to meet the challenge of change, come year 2005. During the transition period of 10 years as given by the WTO to India from 1995 to 2005, some domestic companies wanted to make full use of their past R&D model.

The past model:

Before the product patent regime, Indian pharmaceutical companies used to manufacture and market generic equivalents of the patented drugs at a fraction of the price of the originators, with non-infringing process technology in the Indian domestic market and also for export to the other non-regulated markets. During the WTO transition period of 10 years, they increased the pace of utilization of this model and launched as many ‘copycat’ versions of the new products as possible to boost up their sales and profit.

The present model for regulated markets:

Following two strategies are followed:

1. Indian companies doing generic business in the regulated markets like the USA submit
“Abbreviated New Drug Application” (ANDA) to the drug regulator for approvals of drugs,
which will go off patent within the next few years, so that the generic products could be launched
immediately after patent expiry.

2. Many other companies follow the second avenue, simultaneously, which is though risky but very
remunerative. In this case, the generic market entry takes place by challenging the patents of the

It is believed that this model is being used by the Indian pharmaceutical companies, primarily to raise financial resources to get more engaged in their drug discovery initiatives or to generate wherewithal for collaborative or contract research initiatives.

For short term business growth and to raise fund for discovery research, their non-infringing process research initiatives have been proved to be quite useful. These R&D based Indian pharmaceutical companies; seem to understand very well that discovery of NCEs/NMEs or getting involved in this process will ultimately be ‘the name of the game’ to fuel longer term business growth of their respective organizations.

Contract Research (CR) in India:

Contract research is another business model within the overall R&D space, where a significant part of the investments come from the collaborators. CR business model currently explore the following two key options:

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for the discovery will go to the global collabolator and the
Indian CR organization will get an upfront or milestone payments.

 Along with funding support to the CR organization, IPR is shared by both the companies
depending on the terms of agreement.

There could be many other terms/clauses in such CR agreements, which are not within the scope of this discussion.

Types of Contract Research (CR):

Frost & Sullivan in one of their studies on Indian R&D opportunities indicated following three models of contract research:

1. Joint research: Here two or more collaborators will work jointly

2. Collaborative research: In this type of research, scientists of different disciplines work together on a project e.g. Ranbaxy has recently entered into a collaborative research program with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) or collaboration of Ranbaxy to develop an anti-malarial NCE Rbx 11160 with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), Geneva.

3. Complete outsourcing: When an altogether different research organization is assigned a research project by another organization. Some Indian research based pharmaceutical companies have already got engaged in these types contract research activities. The market of contract research is expected to grow much faster in the near future.

India – an attractive contract research destination:

A global survey done by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) couple of years ago on the preferred centres for overseas contract research, published as follows:

• 39% preference for China

• 28% preference for India

Attractiveness as preferred contract research center was based on the following criteria:

• A place where companies can tap into existing networks of scientific and technical expertise

• Has good links to academic research facilities

• Provides an environment where innovation is supported and easy to commercialize.

Many global pharmaceutical companies believe that China scores over India on the third point, as mentioned above.

Indian pharmaceutical companies have commenced targeting contract research opportunities:

Research based Indian pharmaceutical companies companies like, Piramal Healthcare, Ranbaxy, DRL, Zydus Cadilla, Glenmark etc are now actively targeting international companies for contract research in custom synthesis, medicinal chemistry and clinical studies.

A medium-sized pharma company Shasun Chemicals and Drugs has been reported to have defined its business as an “integrated research and manufacturing solutions provider”. Similarly Divi’s Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company of similar size has collaborated with global multinational companies for both custom synthesis and contract research projects.

Some international CROs, like Quintiles have its establishments in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Mumbai with great expectations and a robust business model.

New contract research opportunities in Biopharmaceuticals:

Besides pure pharmaceutical companies, an emerging opportunity is seen within the biotech companies in India, which are mostly engaged in a contract model. Novartis has inked a three year deal with Synergene (Biocon) for various research projects primarily in the early stages of development in cardiovascular and oncology therapy areas.

Likewise, Reliance Life Sciences are involved in chemistry, biology and contract clinical research activities.

Another research process outsourcing company, Avesthagen is engaged in collaborative research in metabolics, proteomics, genomics and sequencing. The company shares the IPR with the collaborators.

Jubilant Biosys of India, which has already partnered in a drug development deal with Eli Lilly has recently entered into another research and development deal with AstraZeneca, estimated to be worth up to US$220 million. This research collaboration will be funded by AstraZeneca for five years and they will own the patent of any neuroscience molecule that will come out of this collaborative agreement.

Contract research – a lucrative business model:

A UBS Warburg study indicated that around 20% to 25% of R&D investments in the US go towards contract research. This percentage is expected to increase as the pressure to contain R&D expenses keeps mounting, especially in the US and EU.

Currently the cost of bringing an NCE/NME to market from its R&D stage is estimated to be around US$ 1.7 billion. Across the world efforts are being generated to bring down these mounting expenses towards R&D.

Many experts believe that cost of innovation in India will be almost half of what it will be in the US and EU. A report from Zinnov Management Consulting forecasts that towards outsourcing by the global pharmaceutical companies, India has the potential to earn about US$2.5 billion by 2012.


Currently, within CR space India is globally considered as a more mature venue for chemistry related drug-discovery activities than China. However, in biotech space China is ahead of India. Probably, because of this reason, companies like, Divi’s Laboratories, Avesthagen, Ranbaxy, Synergene, Jubilant Biosys, Reliance Life Science, DRL, Zydus Cadilla, Glenmark and Piramal Healthcare could enter into long-term collaborative arrangements with Multinational Companies (MNC)to discover and develop New Chemical Entities (NCEs).

As I said earlier quoting Korn/Ferry that in the CR space China’s infrastructure is better than India, primarily due to firm commitment of the Chinese government to derive maximum benefits of the globalization process in the country.

Prudent policy reforms and other measures as expected from the new UPA Government will hopefully help bridging the gap between the Chinese and Indian pharmaceutical industry in the space of overall CR business including biotechnology, as Indian R&D based pharmaceutical companies will start realizing and encashing the potential of this important business model.

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.

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.