Sunrise At Sunset Point

To win the battle of perception, the Indian pharma industry should focus on capital allocation choices and capability building.

The Indian pharma model has depended on a few fundamentals. It capitalised on a strong domestic base in India through rapid product introductions, the Hindu rate of price increases, a large army of medical representatives and a benign regulatory and IP system. Indian pharma companies chose pockets in Africa, Asia, Middle East servings as natural expansion outposts. They leveraged India’s formulation expertise to address the world’s largest generics market, US, fully exploiting the advantages that US offered.

All that is changing.

The industry faces a battle of perceptions. Despite being the supplier of over a third of the world’s requirement of medicine, and with over 20,000 companies competing in the domestic market, there is still a perception that the Indian patient is paying high prices for drugs. The remedy: more drugs under price control.

The trade channels in this industry take nearly a third of the retail price a patient pays. This share of the patient price may be one the highest in the world. With 5-7 lakh chemists and stockists, the distribution channels remain fragmented, and the cost of distribution reflects this. The remedy: a higher cap on these margins.

Indian medicines are identified by ‘brand names’. The doctor uses the brand name to identify the drugs he is choosing for his prescription. Under the belief that all drugs with the same ingredients are identical, we may move to an era where doctors prescribe the generic names of the medicines, and it will be left to the chemist and the patient to choose the company whose drug she wishes to use. But are similar drugs from various companies identical? They should be — by law – but they aren’t. Inspectors and analysts who work with national and state regulatory agencies, follow the same law, only in theory. Their implementation varies from office to office, state to state. Unless the drug regulatory laws are implemented in an identical fashion across every state and city of the nation, any doctor by prescribing a generic drug is putting his reputation at risk, as he is at the mercy of the choices that an ill-trained chemist and patient might make.

Indeed, the national regulator has a formidable task at hand–to engage, re-skill and train several lakhs of employees across the country and bring them to a common skill level and then hold them accountable to one common national standard. Who will fund the increased drug policing costs? If they come back to the industry, in some way, they might result in price hikes.

What happens to the several thousand companies? Will they be able to cope with these changes? One estimate is that not more than 500 companies will survive this.

The industry employs 7-8 lakh, medical representatives. What is their fate, if the industry turns generic? Are they going to become an extinct species? The reps, through the years, toiled hard, to be the knowledge interface between the doctor and the industry. Will their role change if the nature of the industry changes? Quite possibly: digital technology and social platforms are providing myriad ways of reaching doctors. What shape will the human touch take in this era?

Many companies, use multi-brand marketing strategies to cover the vast expanse of the Indian terrain, for the same drug. At the most simplistic level, a company could have two brands of a given drug — one for the hospital sector, the other for the retail sector. Over time, in pockets, it may have led to some distortions of pricing and trade margins. Very often, these are manufactured at contract sites. The contract manufacturing industry, in India, serves a useful purpose to provide bridge capacity, especially for those focused on high volume exports from their own plants. “One brand, at one site” could jeopardise a sub-sector that employs a few lakhs and turns over probably Rs 20,000 crore.

Such ‘remedies’ are some of the sweeping changes suggested in the Draft Pharmaceutical Policy 2017. If implemented, while quality and affordability will improve, the policy will unwittingly strike at the core of the business model of the industry and will disrupt it in fundamental ways.

The US market — the largest generic market in the world and where Indian drugs fill three to four out of 10 prescriptions – is seeing three big trends. Channel consolidation has led to 90 percent of the buying power concentration in three big companies. The FDA along with increased scrutiny has been approving the backlog of drugs aggressively, leading to hyper-competition. This double whammy is causing the prices in the base business to fall by high single-digit to low double-digit rates. Buyers have tightened the screws and are increasingly vigilant on even legitimate price increases.

The combined effect has wiped out nearly 40 percent of the core industry’s market cap in the last few months. A whopping value destruction of over five lakh crore.

So what should the industry look out for?

Three simple things: innovation, calibrated diversification, and consolidation or ICDC in short.

The industry needs to diversify the geography risk beyond US and India, invest in innovation beyond traditional generics and acquire more global scale. Aurobindo is doing just that. In contrarian style, it is going to Europe, when others have recalibrated their ambitions there.

India does not need more than 500 companies to have a reasonably competitive market. The rest must perish or be acquired. Of the dozen or so large and mid-sized companies, some should merge and acquire global scale. Two Ahmedabad-based companies are reportedly in discussion to do just that. Some more will surely follow suit.

Those with scale must invest in innovation – US specialty, global bio-similar, science-validated NCEs and digital. Zydus Cadilla is invested in a diversified portfolio — vaccines, animal health, bio-similars – beyond core generics. Dr Reddy’s, Cipla, Sun, Lupin, Glenmark, Biocon are exploring these themes. Success would depend on capital allocation choices, capability building and ring-fencing for focus. Investing community must probe the latter two – to be more informed.

This article originally appeared in Business Standard.

Click here to download the PDF.

Cipla Announces Q4 & FY18 Results

Press Release

Vatch the video.

Cipla Limited (BSE: 500087, NSE: CIPLA) today announced its audited consolidated financial results for the full year and quarter ended March 31, 2018.

The Company reported full year revenues of Rs 15,219 crores, growing 6%# y-o-y. EBITDA margins, before exceptional items, increased by over 160bps to 18.6%. For the quarter ended March 31, the Company reported revenues of Rs 3,698 crores, growing 5%# y-o-y. The R&D investments in the quarter ramped up to ~7.6% of revenues. Key markets including India and South Africa continued to deliver strong growth.

“This financial year, our focus remained on strengthening our portfolio and deepening our presence in priority markets. We are happy that our efforts on cost and efficiency improvement helped us deliver the full year margin ahead of our guidance range. Our focus for next year will be to continue our growth trajectory in key markets and investments in portfolio for sustainable growth. We continue to strive to make a difference to patients through meeting unmet needs and our continuing focus on quality & innovation”

– Umang Vohra MD and Global CEO, Cipla Ltd.

Overall P&L (in INR Cr)

Performance Highlights

  • FY18 EBITDA, before exceptional items, grew by 14.2% on a year on year basis with PAT growing by 40% .
  • Strong momentum continues across key markets with India business delivering a strong quarter with growth at ~21% (GST Adjusted) y-o-y. South Africa, API, Europe and Sub-Saharan markets continued strong momentum. The US business saw launches of key products.
  • South Africa business delivered yet another record quarter of R1bn+ sales (adjusted for one-offs) recording 18% growth for Q4 vs last year in US$ terms.
  • Strong pipeline maintained during the year with 24 new filings during the year.
  • Focused efforts towards building a strong Specialty portfolio for US. Steady progress in development of Tizanidine patch.
  • R&D investment for this quarter stood at ~7.6% of revenues. Increase was driven by clinical trial charges related to Advair among others.

For more such blogs follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.


How Cipla’s Self-Learning And Continuous Learning Approach Is A Game-Changer

Learnability is the biggest skill one can possess in the hyper-dynamic times that we exist in. There is a need for people to quickly learn and unlearn, and re-invent themselves if they seek to survive in the professional arena. At the same time, owing to how automation and technology are changing the nature of jobs, even organisations need to focus on continuously adding to the knowledge and skills of their people to stop them from becoming redundant. Gone are the days when learning and development were seen as a cost burden. It has now become essential for businesses that seek to sustain and grow in the existing volatile business scenario.

Cipla has been transforming its approach towards learning through focused efforts by its learning and development arm, Cipla University. In line with its philosophy of continuous learning, Cipla University believes in offering best-in-class training while promoting continuous learning that would enable all its associates as well as the organization on the whole Learn-Excel-Grow in a regular manner. This would not just lead to performance excellence in the present, but more importantly make individuals and the organization, future ready as well.

Hemalakshmi Raju, head- learning and development, Cipla says, “It’s not knowledge but a continuous learning approach that provides a competitive advantage.”

Raju shares that the organisation observed that there was a hunger for learning, and people needed guidance to be more efficient at what they do. More so, as the sales representatives in the pharmaceutical industry are mostly on the field and spend a significant amount of time, on-the-go. In addition, they have to deal with people who are way more qualified than them — the doctors. Even more challenging is the fact that their interaction window is limited to a few minutes versus the wait time that may be an hour or more.

It’s not knowledge but a continuous learning approach that provides a competitive advantage.

“Keeping all these challenges in mind, we realised that the field force required learning on the go such that they have anytime, anywhere access to relevant content. We launched mobile learning for the field force, a year ago. It allows them to utilise their wait time for learning, along with constant self-assessment on the same,” Raju explains.

The Company follows the 70:20:10 principle for its learning initiatives, and focuses majorly on continuous learning and self-learning. It has a unique programme called ‘Keep educating yourself’, under which it has provided its people access to a set of curated MOOCs. ‘My learning challenge’ is another unique initiative, that was organized sometime back, wherein employees could enroll themselves, pick a topic of their choice and spend at least half an hour every day, for ten days, learning the same.

Raju shares that over 250 people had enrolled for this programme across the globe, of which the best 10 were selected as learning champions. “The idea behind all these initiatives has been to inculcate in our people a habit of learning on their own,” Raju opines.

Cipla recently organised a learning expo at its office in Mumbai, with an aim to encourage self-learning and learning on the go. The event attempted to sensitise people and orient them to utilise various tools for self-learning through gamification.

Raju shares that the buy-in from the top management towards these digital learning efforts is extremely high and Cipla’s CEO, Umang Vohra and group chief people officer, Prabir Jha are strong proponents and ambassadors of the same

Looking ahead, Cipla is planning to organise social-learning drives, through digital platforms. It will include strong peer-to-peer learning through ‘tag and learn’ initiatives.

“Learning is not just about individual capability building but organisational capacity building” is a strong perspective held by Jha and Raju feels that Learning On the Go will be a key lever in bringing this alive.

This article originally appeared in HR Katha.

For more such blogs follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.


5 Ways To Create A Positive Image At Work

Employees who exhibit positive behaviour at work not only tend to be more productive than others but also encourage others to push themselves harder.

Here are tips from experts on how to wear just the right attitude at work.

1. Organisational Culture

Every organisation has its individual work culture. “As an employee, do your best to understand the values behind it and try actively to be part of it,” says Sashi Kumar, managing director, Indeed India. “You must demonstrate willingness to work towards the company’s goals and its larger vision.

2. Be Vibrant & Lively

Don’t be dull at the workplace. “Show energy, initiative and enthusiasm. This strength is infectious and attracts people. Conversely, cynicism, cribbing and endless moaning destroy your image,” says Prabir Jha, global chief people officer, Cipla.

3. Company Counts

Never forget that the people you hang out with define you in a way. It is very important to keep the right company. “Be seen as one who attracts good talent and works with high-performers. You do get a positive rub-off from this,” says Jha.

4. Be Meticulous

“Staying on top of your assignments will not only help create a stress-free environment for yourself and others working with you but also allow leeway for you to explore new avenues of work,” says Kumar. “Everyone loves a person who consistently over-delivers,” says Jha.

5. Go the Extra Mile

“Positive thinking, even in difficult situations, can help showcase your professional maturity to supervisors and garner trust from your colleagues. Having an approachable manner can encourage peers and subordinates to seek advice,” says Kumar.

This article originally appeared in the Economic Times.

For more such blogs follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.


Cipla Partners With Mannkind For Exclusive Marketing, Distribution Of Afrezza®, Innovative Inhaled Insulin

Press Release

Cipla Limited today announced that it has entered into an exclusive marketing and distribution agreement with US-based MannKind Corporation for Afrezza® in India. Afrezza® is the only USFDA approved inhaled insulin available for patients suffering from diabetes. “Cipla is committed to providing access to innovative medicines and newer drug delivery systems to the patients. Afrezza, an inhaled insulin, is a cutting-edge product which will increase patient convenience,” said Umang Vohra, MD & Global CEO, Cipla Ltd. “The innovative drug delivery system will revolutionize the diabetic care in India. This partnership with MannKind is another step from Cipla to cater to the unmet needs of the patients.”
“Our agreement with Cipla for Afrezza provides us with a long-term partner with a wealth of knowledge and experience in diabetes. Cipla is a leader across therapies in India with an established sales, marketing and distribution network. With this partnership, Cipla will leverage its strength in inhalation and extend it to diabetes therapy, stated Michael Castagna, Chief Executive Officer of MannKind. “The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 425 million people are currently living with diabetes worldwide, including 73 million in India. This agreement with Cipla, our second international partnership agreement for Afrezza, extends the potential opportunity for approximately 1 out of 4 people of the worldwide population with diabetes to manage their disease with our novel mealtime insulin, when combined with our earlier agreement in Brazil and our own efforts in the United States.” Under the agreement, Cipla will be responsible for obtaining regulatory approvals to distribute Afrezza® in India, including approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). Cipla will also be responsible for all marketing and sales activities of Afrezza in India. MannKind is responsible for supplying Afrezza to Cipla.

About Afrezza®
Available by prescription, Afrezza® (insulin human) Inhalation Powder is a rapid-acting inhaled insulin indicated to improve glycemic control in adult patients with diabetes mellitus. Afrezza consists of a dry powder formulation of human insulin delivered from a small and portable inhaler.

Administered at the beginning of a meal, Afrezza dissolves rapidly upon inhalation to the lung and passes quickly into the bloodstream (in less than one minute). This rapid absorption allows Afrezza to begin reducing blood sugar levels within about 12 minutes of administration. Afrezza is available in 4-unit, 8-unit and 12-unit single-dose cartridges of insulin powder that can be used, as prescribed by a health care professional, in combination with other diabetes medications to achieve target blood sugar levels. For Afrezza doses exceeding 12 units, patients may use a combination of existing cartridge strengths. For more information on Afrezza, please visit

For more such blogs follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.