(This article appeared in moneycontrol.com / CNBC TV18, dated 08 May 2012)
For Indian generic
drug-makers, it's not so much about volumes anymore as it is about margins. And
many have found that innovation into more complex molecules or into advanced
drug delivery systems will do the trick, reports CNBC-TV18's Archana Shukla.
Boring white pills no longer do the trick from a marketing perspective. With
falling margins and increasing competition, generic drug manufacturers are
looking at innovation to get to the next big league - super generics.
idea is simple: get a complex molecule that cannot be replicated as easily and
open doors to lasting revenue streams and upto a 40% premium on the existing
Abhay Muthal, senior GM - regulatory affairs, Sun Pharma, "These will be difficult to develop, but will meet the unmatched needs of the
consumer. They can be targeted with a technology or a device, offer continuous
revenue streams and offer exclusivity on the drug. All these characteristics
make super-generics very lucrative."
It's not just about creating a complex molecule. A super generic may be
as simple as a more advanced delivery system that increases effectiveness or
makes delivery simpler - like oral insulin or insulin patches, instead of
Indian players are taking a leaf from global generic giants like Teva, Actavis
and Watson, who already have such portfolios.
Dr Reddy's Laboratories has chosen to go the unreplicatable drug route with its
Both Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Natco Pharma have made generic filings for
other advanced drugs like the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone and cancer
treatment drug Revlimid.
Meanwhile, Sun Pharma is focusing its R&D capabilities on innovative
delivery platforms for its ophthalmic drugs and oral contraceptives.
Cadila, armed with newly-acquired Nesher Pharma, is looking at newer drug delivery
modes for its pain-killer Diclofenac, among other drugs.
While others like Lupin are also catching on, it is not an easy ride.
Sanjay Chaturvedi, head-global sales & VP-marketing, Dr. Reddy's
Laboratories, "There are lot of challenges. India is the biggest market
for us. But it is an unbranded market. So need to spend more on promotional
"The EU market is highly fragmented and the rewards will only come if you
can market the Products in a larger market. The other challenge is that
formulation skills of Indian pharma companies need to be honed to make these
innovations cost-effective, " Chaturvedi added.
The regulatory pathways for many of these innovative drugs, like biosimilars,
are muddled. But with super generics capable of generating seven-to-ten times
the value of simple generic, they are just too lucrative an opportunity to be