Managing expectations of the emerging markets of the world, proactively, will differentiate winners from the rest, in the Global Pharmaceutical Industry.

Change or Perish:In Mid 2007, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recommended to the research-based global pharmaceutical companies that for sustainable business performance they should move a part of their expenditure from marketing to research. They also recommended that the drug prices should be related to incremental efficacy that the products would provide. That global pharmaceutical business model is “economically unsustainable and operationally incapable of acting quickly enough to produce the types of innovative treatments demanded by global markets” as a challenge of change, was forecasted in 2007 by PwC in their ‘Pharma 2020: The vision’, report.Fast evolving scenario:

The global pharmaceutical industry scenario is fast evolving. More drugs are going off patent than what the innovator companies can replace with the new products. The research is undoubtedly failing to deliver.

At the same time, the business growth in the developed markets of the world has been declining over a period of time. The growth in the top two pharmaceutical markets of the world viz, USA and Japan has gone negative. IMS predicted in their recent ‘CEO Conclave’ in Mumbai that negative trends in these markets will continue even beyond 2013.

In the same conclave IMS predicted that ‘Pharmerging’ markets and Venezuela will drive the growth of the global pharmaceutical industry in the next five year period. Within ‘Pharmerging’ markets, China is expected to record highest CAGR growth of over 25%, followed by India and Turkey around 12-14% each. With such a scorching pace of growth China is expected to become third largest pharmaceutical market in the world in 2013 with India holding its 2008 ranking of no. 13. Venezuela is expected to register highest CAGR growth of around 40% during this period placing itself as the eleventh largest pharmaceutical market of the world, comfortably overtaking India.

Emerging markets will drive global growth:

IMS health reported that last year the global pharmaceutical market recorded a turnover of US$712 billion, which is an increase of US$178 billion over last five years. However, the growth rate has come down to 6.4% compared to 11.8% in 2001. Emerging markets like India, China, Russia, Turkey and South Korea have recorded a growth of 13%, 25.7%, 20.2%, 17.2% and 10.7%, respectively against just 3.8% growth of the US market.

Making up sales revenue of world’s top 10 products:

World’s 10 top selling prescription drugs, as reported by IMS, which will be difficult to replace in terms of single-product value turnover after they go off patent, are as follows:

- Lipitor, US$13.5 billion (Pfizer)

- Plavix, US$7.3 billion (Sanofi-Aventis)

- Nexium, US$7.2 billion (AstraZeneca)

- Seretide/Advair, US$7.1 billion (GlaxoSmithKline)

- Enbrel, US$5.3 billion (Amgen and Wyeth)

- Zyprexa, US$5 billion (Eli Lilly)

- Risperdal, US$4.9 billion (Johnson & Johnson)

- Seroquel, US$4.6 billion (AstraZeneca)

- Singulair, US$4.5 billion (Merck)

- Aranesp, US$4.4 billion (Amgen)

Focus on the emerging markets and other measures are expected to more than offset the loss of revenue and profit for these products.

Key business issues in the emerging markets:

Governments of many of these emerging markets expect some local benefits out of the evolving growth opportunities of the global pharmaceutical companies from their respective countries. Various reports indicate that there will be mainly the following two key issues in these markets:

• Local manufacturing of products
• Pricing

Local manufacturing:

Out of these emerging markets, Indonesia has clearly spelt out its intention by specifying that the pharmaceutical companies marketing their products in Indonesia will need to establish local manufacturing facilities. The new rule is directed towards local job creation.

The Health Minister of Indonesia has said, “If they want to get licenses (to sell their products) they have to invest here also, not just take advantage of the Indonesian market.” The Minister further added, “they can’t just operate like a retailer here, with an office that’s three meters by three, and make billions of rupiah. That’s not fair.” It has been reported that India and China may also come out with similar requirements for their respective countries.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce has registered a strong protest in this matter with the President of Indonesia and has urged a reversal of this decision. However, the country appears to have taken a firm stand in this matter. This is evident when in response to the report that some global pharmaceutical companies have threatened withdrawal of their business from Indonesia because of this reason, the Health Minister retorted, “If they want to go away, go ahead.”


Anticipating such moves in the emerging markets, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has already started reducing the prices of its products in the emerging markets.

The visionary CEO of GSK, Andrew witty strongly believes that such price reduction will enable more patients in the emerging markets to afford GSK products. Consequently the increased sales volume will not only be able to offset the price loss but will also create a substantial goodwill for the company in these markets.

Quoting Andrew Witty the ‘Wall Street Journal’ (WSJ) reported that in Philippines, GSK has reduced the price of 28 products by 30% to 50%. In other emerging markets in Asia including India, Malaysia and Thailand the company has reduced the prices of Cervarix, its cervical cancer vaccine, substantially.

Price reductions made by GSK in Philippines in March have started paying rich dividends to the company with 15% to 40% increase in sales revenue.


To achieve the growth objectives in the emerging markets of the world, global pharmaceutical companies will need to find out a win-win solution. Andrew Witty of GSK has set examples in this area with various path breaking initiatives. Pricing and local manufacturing of products, in that order, are expected to be the key issues in the business model for emerging markets of the global pharmaceutical companies. Witty has responded to such expectations proactively and in an exemplary way. His vision is widely expected to be emulated by many others, as we move on, in the interest of all stakeholders.

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.