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Domestic drug makers immune to slowdown

By P B Jayakumar in Mumbai
March 13, 2009 08:51 IST
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At a time when various industries have been hit due to the current economic slowdown, the domestic pharmaceutical market registered a value growth of 14.4 per cent in January and 9.9 per cent in the 12 months ended January 2009. The yearly turnover was Rs 34,487.17 crore (Rs 344.87 billion).

The growth of the domestic drug sector, which was just 6.8 per cent in November 2008, improved to 13.2 per cent in December and to 14.4 per cent this January.

"This is because of the seasonal nature of drug sales. Sales of drugs for cough and cold, respiratory diseases and of other antibiotics are usually more during the November-January winter season," said Ranjit Kapadia, head of Life Science Research at Prabhudas Liladhar.

Data revealed that while sales of anti-infectives grew 11.6 per cent, the gynaecology segment grew 15.9 per cent, and vitamins and minerals 13.1 per cent. The demand for drugs for respiratory diseases increased 12.1 per cent this January.

This is far ahead of the growth rate of the global generic industry. The rate came down to 3.6 per cent in the 12 months ending September 2008, from 11.4 per cent in the previous 12 months.

Data for January said Cipla -- which markets 844 drugs in the domestic market -- maintained its number one position by growing 14.6 per cent in January. For the 12 months, Cipla's domestic business grew 13.4 per cent, with a turnover of Rs 1,839 crore (Rs 18.39 billion). Cipla has 5.34 per cent domestic market share.

The second largest domestic player, Ranbaxy Laboratories, which markets 536 products in the domestic market, grew 7.2 per cent in January. For the 12 months, Ranbaxy's growth was 11.5 per cent in value terms. Its market share rose to 5.03 per cent. Ranbaxy's growth in the domestic market in value terms in 2008 was only 7 per cent, with a turnover of Rs 1,485 crore (Rs 14.85 billion), compared with Rs 1,393 crore (Rs 13.93 billion) in 2007.

ORG-IMS data revealed that the market share of the other top 10 companies in the domestic market remained more or less the same. GlaxoSmithKline retained its third position, followed by Piramal Healthcare, Zydus Cadila, Sun Pharma, Alkem Laboratories, Lupin Labs and Mankind Pharma. Companies such as Piramal Healthcare (30.3 per cent), Alkem Laboratories (21.6 per cent), Mankind (26.5 per cent), USV (34.2 per cent), Ipca Labs (43.2 per cent) and Indoco Remedies (22.1 per cent) grew their sales substantially in January.

ORG-IMS, which tracks sales of pharmaceutical drugs in India, had earlier projected that the domestic market would grow 10.3 per cent (in value terms) until November 2008, to Rs 33,769 crore (Rs 337.69 billion), over the 12 months of the previous year.

Analysts said better health insurance coverage, more government funds, introduction of mass healthcare projects such as the National Rural Health Mission and increasing rural penetration by pharmaceutical companies contributed to the growth of domestic drug sales. It is estimated that more than 65 per cent of the Indian population lacks access to proper healthcare facilities and drugs.

A YES Bank study has estimated that the demand for drugs in India will grow due to rising population, especially those over 60 years of age, and rising incomes. It said the domestic formulation industry market would touch $21.5 billion by 2015. A KPMG analysis said the domestic market's compounded annual growth rate over the next few years would be 13.1 per cent. It would reach $11.2 billion by 2011-12, KPMG predicted.

'Future demand for domestic formulations would be driven by chronic therapeutic segments such as anti-diabetic, central nervous system, cardio-vascular systems and gastrointestinal drugs on account of changing lifestyles,' the KPMG report had said.
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P B Jayakumar in Mumbai
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