The debut of the Pharma Industry in 2020

Dr. Mithun Bandivadekar

Assistant Professor

Dept of Pharmaceutics

AISSMS College of Pharmacy,Pune


By 2020 the pharmaceutical market is anticipated to more than double to US$1.3 trillion, with the E7 countries — Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey — accounting around for one-fifth of global pharmaceutical sales. Further, the incidence of chronic conditions in the developing world will increasingly resemble those of the developed world. Pharma 2020: The vision: Which path will you take? indicates that the current pharmaceutical industry business model is both economically unsustainable and operationally incapable of acting quickly enough to produce the types of innovative treatments demanded by global markets. In order to make the most of these future growth opportunities, the industry must fundamentally change the way it operates. Some of the major changes the Pharma Industry anticipates are:

Health care will shift in focus from treatment to prevention. Pharmaceutical companies will provide total health care packages. The current linear phase research & development process will give way to in-life testing and live licensing, in collaboration with regulators and health care providers. The traditional blockbuster sales model will disappear. The supply chain function will become revenue generating as it becomes integral to the health care package and enables access to new channels. More sophisticated direct-to-consumer distribution channels will diminish the role of wholesalers. PCD pharma companies’ growth story has been pretty sweet. According to a PwC report, the pharma industry has been on a steady growth curve for a few years now and this will continue. Worldwide the sale of medicines in 2011 was estimated at$1.08 trillion USD. This was actually an increase of 7.8% from 2010. A PwC report now pegs the figures to reach at least $1.5 trillion by 2020! Interestingly, an important part of this growth story is the emerging markets of countries like India, China, and Brazil. Of these, the Indian market is poised to make a complete game-changing trajectory, one that may put it well ahead of its rivals. The availability of skilled labor, technical know-how, and an already established international presence is expected to work in its favor. But while we expect the Indian sector to grow significantly, only a fool would take this for granted. A closer look at the market tells us that we still have work to do before we close the gap with the top players. While India leads world trade in volume, we are still positioned at 14th place in terms of sales. Clearly, we must understand the challenges facing us as well as the opportunities for our growth.

The Challenges

  1. Lack of attention paid to R&D: Indian companies have always lagged behind when it comes to R&D. The costs involved are often considered to be too steep. However, no industry can flourish without the invention of new medicines and active research in healthcare.
  2. 2. Rising R&D costs: To compound the lack of attention paid to R&D is the rising costs now involved in R&D. This is because of rising manpower, equipment, and overhead costs. This acts as a further deterrent for pharma companies, especially the new entrants.
  3. Stricter global regulation: Thanks to technology, information sharing is now a matter of seconds. Cutting-edge software now gives us information at the click of a button, including blackballed lists! To add to this technology is the increasing collaboration of countries and their regulators. This means that any black mark against an erring PCD pharma company in one country is available to regulators from other countries almost instantly.
  4. Changing marketing strategy: Worldwide the marketing in the pharma sector has changed completely. Market dynamics, technology, and new and emerging markets have changed the way pharma companies are looking at markets, marketing medicines, and reaching out to consumers. While it has created opportunities for many small companies in India, it has also forced us to rethink our strategy.
  5. Rising healthcare costs: While generic medicines may not have risen too much in value, certain branded medicines are today available at an extremely steep price. Often made by big pharma companies, the rise in medicines costs has driven the cost of healthcare.
  6. Patent problems: Indian PCD pharma companies are generally quite lax in registering patents. In many developed countries, they have already lost the patent wars. The reasons range from sheer laziness to ignorance. The result is that Indian companies are often stuck making generic drugs, while established big pharma companies hold most of the valuable patents.

Now that we have identified the challenges, let us look at some of the growth areas that we can exploit.

Drivers of Growth

  1. Higher affordability: As incomes rise in India, there are more takers of branded medicines. More disposable income means that people are now actively seeking out specialized healthcare and are willing to pay the price for it.
  2. Improved healthcare infrastructure: Along with the rising incomes has come the availability of viable and strong healthcare infrastructure, including insurance cover, availability of medicines, and healthcare professionals.
  3. Rising cases of diseases: The news of an outbreak every other month may seem like a public emergency, but for healthcare companies, this is the silver lining. It gives them an opportunity for research, new innovations, and an avenue for revenue.
  4. Emergence of a low value but high volume market: For many emerging economies like India, the real avenue for growth is actually towards the lower end of the healthcare spectrum where various factors have pushed up sales overnight. While not high in value, the sheer volume makes up for the required numbers.