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Merck aims to be in the top league

Last updated on: March 11, 2011 12:37 IST
MerckĀ and Co, the world's second-largest pharmaceutical company, with an annual sales turnover of $46 billion, is present in India through three subsidiariesĀ - Merck Sharp & Dohme Pharmaceuticals, Organon India and Fulford India.

Though distinct legal entities, all three firms have a single managerial head and function as an integrated whole at the operational level. Managing Director K G Ananthakrishnan talks to Joe C Mathew on Merck India's plans to be among the top five players in the domestic market by 2015. Edited excerpts:

Is the integration of all three Merck subsidiaries in India complete? What has been the growth of the combined entity?

The integration is complete. Even though these are three separate legal entities, they function as one. For instance, all our medical representatives handle products of all subsidiaries.

The 17 to 18 per cent growth annually has been in line with the industry (domestic) growth. Our aspiration continues to be among the top five by 2015.

How would you achieve this?

A lot of global products are yet to be launched in the country. In the last eight months, we have launched six products from our global product portfolio. The latest one is RotaTeq, a pentavalent rotavirus vaccine to prevent infant death due to diarrhea.

RotaTeq comes to India five years after it was introduced in the US. Is this delay desirable?

Our objective is to launch all innovative products as soon as it gets launched elsewhere in the world. It should happen much faster now.

How strong is your Indian team today? Any plans to invest in manufacturing facilities, human resources in the near future?

The combined employee strength is a little over 2,000. After operational integration, we now have a diversified product portfolio of over 75 brands, of which 13 are already leading products in respective categories.

We will build on these strengths. As of now, we have 13 manufacturing partners who supply 60 per cent of our local medicine. We are evaluating the possibilities of outsourcing more products from our local (contract manufacturing) partners.

Merck was among the first global firms to disclose the financial relationships it has with doctors in the US. Do you think a similar transparency is required in India, too?

We are seriously considering this aspect to understand how to go about in India. As an industry, we have a definite role in disseminating scientific information.

However, there has to be a good balance to ensure that whatever is done is within the confinement of ethical practices. As a responsible corporate entity, we already adhere to all such codes of conduct.

Joe C Mathew in Mumbai