Emcure Pharmaceuticals, one of the fastest-growing drug makers by sales in the domestic market, is planning to strengthen its product portfolio with new launches, line extensions of existing brands and focus on digital sales.
The privately held Pune-based company aims to bring first to market specialty or differentiated generic drugs through the company’s own R&D efforts and innovative molecules through in-licensing partnerships.
In an interview to Moneycontrol, Namita Thapar, Executive Director, Emcure, who manages the India business, said that the company was able to grow above the market in FY21, despite COVID-related disruptions. During normal times, the Indian market grows around 10 percent.
Thapar expects growth momentum to continue in FY22.
According to All Indian Origin Chemists and Dealers (AIOCD) data, Emcure is ranked 12th in FY21, with average sales growth of 8.5 percent. The Indian pharmaceutical market, in the same period, grew at 2.1 percent.
AIOCD is a pharmaceutical market research company, which tracks the sales of brands and companies.
Half the sales in India
Emcure doesn't disclose its sales figures since it’s a privately held company. According to credit rating agency CRISIL, the company recorded sales of Rs 5,082 crore in FY20. Around half of those sales came from India.
About 64 percent of Emcure's India sales comes from chronic and sub-chronic segments that include gynecology, cardiac, diabetes, oncology, vitamins and anti-infectives.
“We are giving a lot of emphasis to digital, we have 4600 sales reps. We can't have a situation where these reps will have to sit idle due to lockdowns," Thapar said.
Sales representatives or reps, as they are called in the pharma industry, are responsible for promoting brands and generating prescriptions from doctors. Due to infection-control protocols, companies have to cut down on doctor visits, and rely on virtual platforms to engage doctors.
Seven brands such as Orofer (anti-anemia), Exhep (anticoagulant Enoxaparin), Metpure (antihypertensive S-Metoprolol), Asomex (antihypertensive - S-Amlodipine), Zostum (anti-infective -Cefoperazone sulbactam) and Bevon (multivitamin) are among the top 300 selling brands in India.
Thapar says much of Emcure’s products are differentiated, which makes its portfolio the least exposed to drug price controls. About 16 percent of the portfolio comes under price control, where the government allows annual price hikes linked to the wholesale price inflation (WPI). For non-scheduled drugs, the government allows a 10 percent hike.
Thapar says the company’s top-selling drugs are either developed through in-house R&D or through partnerships.
Two brands based on chiral chemistry
Two of Emcure’s top-selling brands, Metpure and Asomex, are based on chiral chemistry, which the company’s R&D team has developed. The use of chiral chemistry will make the drug more potent even at a much lower dose, helping to reduce the potential side-effects.
Another top-selling drug, Orofer FCM, which was launched through a licence from Switzerland- based drug maker Vifor Pharma, is an iron replacement therapy that reduces blood transfusion in certain pregnant women. The company also developed and launched Tenecteplase, used in stroke treatment, for the first time in India.
The company has received licence from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to produce Amphotericin B liposomal injection, used in the treatment of Black Fungus. It has signed a non-exclusive licence pact with MSD (US Merck) to produce Molnupiravir. In addition, Emcure's subsidiary, Gennova, is developing an mRNA vaccine, which is undergoing Phase-1 clinical trials.
Gynec, or women’s health category, where the company is a market leader, has huge potential for growth, says Thapar.
The company’s top-selling Orofer franchise, which rakes in over Rs 400 crore per annum, falls into this category.
“Around 50 percent of Indian women are anaemic (low on healthy red blood cells), and this especially becomes more critical for pregnant women,” Thapar says.
Thapar, a chartered accountant by qualification, is the daughter of Satish Mehta, Founder and Managing Director of Emcure. Her husband, Vikas Thapar, handles Corporate Development & Strategy at Emcure.