Patented drug launches help MNCs score over Indian peers


MUMBAI: At a time when the pharmaceuticals industry is facing the heat with price cuts and regulatory issues in the country, multinational companies are growing faster than their domestic peers due to better product mix, says a study. 

While Indian companies still control almost 80% of the Rs 1 lakh crore pharma market in the country, the strategy of launching specialised patented product is helping multinationals grow much faster in India, a report released by market research firm AWACS has said. 

While the overall Indian pharma companies registered 1.4% year-on-year growth in August, MNCs clocked 6.2% growth during the month, led by companies such as AstraZeneca, Janssen and Boehringer Ingelheim on the back of their brands Glycomet, Invokana, and Jardiance, respectively, the study said. 

Janssen is a division of Johnson & Johnson. 

"MNCs though still have a smaller base compared to Indian peers," said Ameesh Masurekar, CEO AWACS. "However, we have seen that in the last few months launch of patented products has helped these companies." 

The anti-infective segment, which is the core strength of Indian drug makers, reported 8% fall in sales in August. At the same time, niche segments like anti-diabetic and cardiac disease drugs, which are predominantly domain of Big Pharma, have been growing in double digits. Even in July, when the overall pharma market fell due to GST woes, companies like Eli Lilly, Novartis and Boehringer Ingelheim recorded higher sales. 

Interestingly this is happening when global generics majors Teva and Mylan have lost half of their market capitalisation after embarking on massive inorganic expansions. Last week, Merck announced it is selling its global OTC portfolio including the brands in India like Seven Seas and Polybion, among others. 

Indian companies like Intas and Aurobindo are now pursuing parts of the global portfolio that are being disposed of by the Big Pharma players. Indian players are also ramping up their exports push to break into even the developed markets of US, Europe and Japan with their speciality products. 

Ranjit Shahani, vice-president at Novartis Pharma, said the growth of MNCs might still be insignificant considering the huge influence of Indian drug makers in this segment. India's pharma industry has been under pressure due to regulatory issues like ban on fixed dose combination drugs and periodic price cuts.