India Eyes $40 Billion Global Generic Market. Patents Held by MNCs to Expire in Over 3 Years

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, India has launched a sustained global campaign to capture an estimated $40 billion worth of additional market for generic or copied medicines as patents held by multinationals on sophisticated medicines run out over the next three years. While emphasis is on countries with ageing population such as Japan, which needs more of cheaper medicine, large markets such as Africa and Latin America are also in focus. “We see an opening of $30-40 billion market for Indian generics over the next three years as patents on a number of drugs run out,” additional commerce secretary Rajeev Kher told ET. “We want to send out a message to the world that we have the capacity to fill in this space with high quality yet cheap medicines.”

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The commerce department is going all out to hard-sell Indian generics in difficult but promising markets under its recently launched Brand India Pharma campaign where the focus is on credibility, quality, availability and affordability of Indian medicines, he added. It is also working with its embassies in Africa and other countries to dispel misinformation spread about Indian generics by global pharma biggies.India’s pharma exports stood at $13 billion last year. The country produces a fifth of the generic medicines of the world and accounts for about 70% of medicines supplied to poor countries through humanitarian agencies. The commerce department recently led two delegations comprising Indian pharma majors like Dr Reddy’s, Lupin, Mylan and Nectar, to Japan and Indonesia under the Brand India Pharma Campaign to explore opportunities in the big but difficult markets.

India, which accounts for less than 1% of Japanese pharma market estimated at over $100 billion, hopes to make big gains under the free trade pact or CECA signed last year. Next destination for about 200 leading generic manufacturers in India for showcasing their products is Madrid where India is the partner country in the world’s leading pharma networking event CPhI beginning next week. This is the first time that the government has approved a pharma sector specific India show. “For the first time ever, India is a partner country in the event which will allow over 200 Indian companies to closely interact with buyers from more than a 100 countries and display their strengths,” Kher said.

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“They will also get the opportunity to meet regulators from various countries to understand the dynamics of different markets.”  Analysts say the timing to promote Indian generics globally is just right as the next three years will be crucial in terms of opportunity. “While patent expiries are expected to peak out in 2012, we believe that the growth momentum would sustain as most Indian companies have a fairly well spread out product pipeline till 2014,” according to a recent paper by rating agency ICRA. “While some companies have a healthy pipeline of FTF (first-to-file) opportunities, others are likely to benefit from the launch of niche, limited competition products.”

India’s largest generic pharma company Ranbaxy has already given US drug major Pfizer a run for its money by launching the generic version of the anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor whose patent expired last year. Ranbaxy has gained a larger market share for the medicine that had helped Pfizer generate about a sixth of its revenue over the last few years.

News source: Economic Times