India: The pharma Jewel

Pfizer registered a 31.2 per cent growth in its domestic revenues as against an industry growth average of 21.5 per cent in November, helping the world’s leading drug-maker zoom past its global competitors to become the fastest growing multinational pharmaceutical company in India during the month.

The November data, the latest one made available by market research firm AIOCD AWACS, put the combined revenues of the Indian-listed subsidiaries of Pfizer and its group company, Wyeth, for the month at Rs 188 crore.

On a moving annual total (MAT) basis (October 2010-November 2011 period), Pfizer-Wyeth combine recorded a revenue of Rs 1,859 crore, or 22.6 per cent growth as compared to the combined sales of the previous 12-month period. At 22.6 per cent, the annual growth is highest among all foreign drug multinationals that sell medicines in the country.

Kewal Handa, managing director of Pfizer India, attributed the growth to the success of its branded generic business strategy. The “thrust” to launch more products in this category “will continue”.

He said the company had launched 40 branded generics across therapeutic categories in the country during last year (2011). “These products maintain highest quality and are comparatively priced, with some of them even at the lowest price band.” Handa added.

Pfizer-Wyeth combine, which is ranked eighth in terms of domestic sales by AIOCD AWACS, plans to introduce about 30 products in the branded generics segment in the country this year. Globally, the bulk of Pfizer revenues come from exclusive sale of patent protected medicines — and not branded generics. Just over a month ago, Lipitor — the company’s best selling drug and the world’s largest revenue-earning medicine — lost patent protection in the United States market.

Branded generics are low-cost versions of medicines that do not enjoy patent protection in the country. Some companies manufacture and sell such generics under the chemical name (for instance, paracetamol).

Handa said the cross-relationship of Pfizer-Wyeth will see the combine launching a complete range of women’s health portfolio in the coming months.

With 2,500 sales personnel on its rolls, Pfizer is looking at further expanding its field force, he said. “We have introduced insulins (in the domestic market). We have appointed a team of 250 people to handle this (diabetics) segment. Devices and cartridges will be introduced soon,” Handa explained.

“Similarly, we have added 150 people in the CNS (central nervous system) segment. There are 50 certified supporters or therapy specialists. In addition, we have appointed medical specialists (qualified doctors) whose only job is to impart knowledge to doctors.”

Pfizer sells at least 100 products across wide ranging therapeutic categories such as anti-infectives, cardiovascular, CNS, gastrointestinal, inflammation, multi-vitamin, urology, respiratory and nutraceuiticals in India. Corex, a cough syrup, is one of its largest selling brands. Wyeth India, which became part of Pfizer through a global acquisition, focuses on segments like women’s health, vaccines and antibiotics.

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