Government policies are changing, the focus is now more on prevention that on treatment. Diseases once considered fatal are now considered chronic. Given the changing times and expectations of people, it is time pharmaceutical giants reconsidered their strategies and their operations to stay relevant

There was a time when one went to the physician or visited a hospital for medication for common cold to serious or fatal diseases. Today, there is a growing awareness among people and the focus has shifted to using age-old traditional medicinal practices and opting for cost-effective generic drugs. This surely does not spell doom for pharma giants, who are involved in production of super drugs. If your interest lies in the pharma sector, read on…

As an astro-strategist, business consultant, business planner and astro guru, Hirav Shah has tried to answer some important queries regarding the most debated industry of recent times, the pharma industry.

1) Indian pharma sector is a force to reckon with. What is the worth of Indian pharma industry?

  • Today, India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally. Indian pharmaceutical sector supplies over 50% of global demand for various vaccines, 40% of generic demand in the US and 25% of all medicine in the UK.
  • India enjoys an important position in the global pharmaceuticals sector. The country also has a large pool of scientists and engineers with a potential to steer the industry ahead to greater heights. Presently, over 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to combat AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms.

Market Size

  • Indian pharmaceutical sector is expected to grow to US$ 100 billion, while the medical device market is expected to grow US$ 25 billion by 2025. Pharmaceuticals export from India stood at US$ 20.70 billion in FY20. Pharmaceutical export includes bulk drugs, intermediates, drug formulations, biologicals, Ayush and herbal products and surgical products.
  • India’s biotechnology industry comprising biopharmaceuticals, bio-services, bio-agriculture, bio-industry, and bioinformatics is expected to grow at an average growth rate of around 30% a y-o-y to reach US$ 100 billion by 2025.
  • India’s domestic pharmaceutical market turnover reached Rs 1.4 lakh crore (US$ 20.03 billion) in 2019, up 9.8% y-o-y from Rs 129,015 crore (US$ 18.12 billion) in 2018.

2) What is the worth of the global pharma sector?

The global pharma spending is likely to hit $1.5 trillion by 2023.

3) How does one ensure quality in the pharmaceutical supply chain?

Supply chain quality management is an evolving concept in the pharma industry. There is still a lot to be done on that front. But here are some pointers to start with:

  1. Before you begin, evaluate the vendors on quality, capacity, lead time and the legal regulations pertaining to the industry.
  2. Do a thorough search for alternate suppliers of the same product. In case, alternate suppliers are not possible, get into an agreement with the supplier involving a mediator.
  3. It is equally important to develop procedures for packing and transportation factoring in contamination and damage to the products.
  4. An important thumb rule is to follow FEFO — First Expire First Out.
  5. Before accepting every lot, make it mandatory to conduct a potency test.

4) How can we update ourselves with developments and progress in the pharma industry?

There are several resources to get the latest updates on the pharma industry. Several high profile journals and resources are available based on subscription and in the market. But for easy access, I am suggesting Pharma Marketing Network which happens to be an online resource for pharma marketing, advertising and sales professionals.

  • Pharma Marketing News™ — A quarterly electronic newsletter
  • Pharma Industry News Update (PinUp) — PinUp is published on Tuesdays as part of Pharma Marketing News subscription service. It features curated pharma industry news and views of topical interest from a variety of sources.
  • Pharma Marketing Blog — A ‘must read’ blog for insiders, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • PharmaGuy™ — Pharmaguy is a pharmaceutical marketing pundit and accomplished ‘Twitterati’ who offers constructive criticism of the pharmaceutical industry. PharmaGuy also sees the glass half-full by recognizing pharma marketing achievements and pioneers.
  • Pharma Marketing Talk. A series of audio podcasts featuring interviews with leaders and innovators in pharmaceutical marketing. You can also listen to Pharmaguy’s audio interview snippets.

5) What is compliance in the pharma industry?

Regulatory compliance means being in accordance with the regulations set out by regulators. These regulations are made by the regulatory agencies across the world, whose intention is to ensure the quality of products that are made by organizations in their industry.

6) What are the key areas to focus on, within the pharma sector?

Healthcare is a primary objective of governments world over. While healthcare is accessible to all, humans in present times mostly inhabit cities and urban areas. This has resulted in an increase of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer, cardio-vascular diseases. This presents pharma companies with new challenges.

  1. The chief objective is to make progress in curing or preventing diseases such as Alzheimer’s and different type of cancers. Not only does this require continuous, massive investment in R&D, there is also a need for discovering new and innovative treatments that work and can get regulatory clearance.
  2. The present-day focus is on giving cost-efficient medicines to consumers/ patients. While the competition in the industry has become ruthless, pharma giants and other players in the industry are striving to give value for money.
  3. With more resistant strains of bacteria showing up, it has become a huge challenge for the pharma sector to carry out research, trials and market their products. As someone said, drug production is as much an art as science and merely waving a magic wand will not do the trick.
  4. Disruption is the need of the hour. Old managerial practices have to give way to great digital experiences. The interactions between pharma industry and consumers can be enhanced by developing pharmaceutical websites, pharma SEO and creating integrated content experiences. One example is run by Upasana Kamineni Konidela, the granddaughter of Prathap C Reddy of Apollo Group, which not only discusses allopathic drugs, but about alternative medicines and alternate therapies, including diet, yoga, meditation and the works.
  5. Healthcare payers have become more conscious of prices of drugs and are comparing the best options. They have also become demanding of the outcomes vis-a-vis money spent.
  6. Cost containment is another issue for pharma giants who work on super drugs.
  7. In developing countries, intellectual property rights and protection laws favour generic drug matters, in an effort to make medicine accessible to consumers. So they favour local brands as against drugs made by major British, American, French, and Swiss pharma giants like GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Sanofi, Roche, and Novartis. It is now necessary for executives at the big pharma companies to spend considerable time and energy on acquiring access to these markets as a means for assuring future growth in 2021 and beyond.
  8. Another reason for pharma giants to factor in is the increasing reliance on self medication. Many diseases which were once considered fatal are now considered chronic and consumers have been opting for over-the-counter medication instead of heavily priced drugs sold by pharma giants.
  9. To top it all, it has become the priority of governments to prevent diseases, rather than treat them. This has given a huge jolt to the big pharmaceutical companies. While governments haven’t yet started to invest in pre-emptive disease prevention measures, this will be a huge issue for global pharma giants in 2021 and beyond.
  10. Approval of innovative treatments is also an issue for pharma giants as regulatory bodies in several countries have stringent rules in place. Conducting trials has also become a struggle, with many individuals turning extremely conscious of the side effects that drugs in preliminary stages could cause. For example, recently, former US presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton offered to take corona vaccine shots on camera to encourage Americans to participate in vaccine trials.