Pfizer adapts in India

09 January 2012

NEW DELHI: Pfizer, the pharma group, is adapting its strategy in India, focusing less on patented big-name brands and instead emphasising lower-priced generic alternatives.

Currently, Pfizer sells over 100 products in India, and launched around 30 lines in the branded generics category, an area where it hopes to add an additional 40 products this year.

This model sees pharma firms provide generic drugs which are no longer protected by patents, as is the case when they initially enter the market.

While these offerings have traditionally been sold without prominent branding given the lack of differentiation, this trend is quickly changing, meaning marketing and price play a key role.

"These products maintain highest quality and are comparatively priced, with some of them even at the lowest price band," Kewal Handa, managing director of Pfizer India, told the Business Standard.

He added that the "thrust" to enhance this portfolio "will continue" going forward, with the women's health segment being a particular target.

Such an approach forms part of Pfizer's core global strategy of seeking to expand its generics business while protecting in-house patents, like the recently-expired one for Lipitor.

Figures from AIOCD AWACS, the research firm, suggested Pfizer and its Wyeth subsidiary enjoyed growth of 22.6% over the 12 months to November 2011 in India, to Rs 1,859 crore ($352m).

In growth terms, this left it behind local operator Sun, up 23.3% to Rs2,686, but ahead of other foreign rivals. Abbott Laboratories, for example, saw sales rise by 15.8%, albeit to a higher revenue total of Rs 3,625 crore.

GlaxoSmithKline, the UK-based multinational, delivered an improvement of 12.8% to Rs 2,738 crore, although this was at the lower than end of the spectrum when compared with the whole category.

At present, Pfizer has 2,500 sales staff working in India, covering a broad range of illnesses and conditions, from diabetes to problems with the central nervous system.

"We have introduced insulins. We have appointed a team of 250 people to handle this segment. Devices and cartridges will be introduced soon," Handa said.

"In addition, we have appointed medical specialists whose only job is to impart knowledge to doctors."

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff