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Organon seeks to bring innovative healthcare solutions for women: Anjan Sen, South Asia lead
Sep 23, 11:09

Anjan Sen took on the role of lead for the South Asia region at Organon in February 2021 after a nine-year stint in parent company MSD. Sen has been working to expand its businesses across therapy areas and geographies.

In a chat with Moneycontrol, he talks about the potential of the contraception and fertility market in India and the scope of his company. Edited excerpts:

What are the opportunities for growth in India's contraception and fertility market?

In 2021, industry reports pegged the women's health devices market in India at $95.1 million. It is projected to grow from $102.5 million in 2022 to $145.8 million by 2029… the Indian contraceptive market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.42 percent between 2022 and 2027 and the Indian in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) market is projected to reach $37,21.99 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 16.45 percent.

One of the factors driving the demand and adoption of contraceptive methods has been the increasing awareness around sexual health and the launch of innovative contraceptive options by market players. Government initiatives in the space of maternal and child care have also augmented market growth.

Over two-thirds of abortions in India are considered to be risky. How do you think these numbers can be brought down?

As the United Nations Population Fund's State of World Population report reveals… a staggering 45 percent of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, making this a leading cause of maternal death. The report further states that one in every seven unintended pregnancies occurs in India. According to the report, 67 percent of abortions in India are unsafe.

This can be addressed by raising awareness about the various contraceptive methods available to women and men, imparting sex education at the school and college level, so that students are acquainted with safe-sex practices... Acknowledging that the issue of unplanned pregnancies exists – addressing the socio-cultural barriers associated with the topics of sex, abortion, and unplanned pregnancies–and ensuring access of equitable and stigma-free contraception services are also important.

What factors limit access to birth control by women in India?

While creating awareness and conversations around reproductive health may seem like a straightforward solution, several socio-cultural barriers limit people's ability to access appropriate medical information and advice. Even for people who want to have children, having the right information concerning family planning is essential. Therefore, there is an urgent need to prioritise providing women and men of reproductive age the accurate information which will help them make informed decisions.

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Another factor that hinders access to birth control methods is the limited contraceptive choices available to men and women. Unfortunately, in India, female sterilisation is still the leading form of contraception, at 37.5 percent (according to the NFHS-5 data).

The government of India is attempting to address this gap by formulating programmes and policies which consider reasons behind the non-use of contraceptive methods among people from different demographics.

Are there any novel products or options you plan to offer to women and men looking for contraception and family planning in India?

Organon's vision is to create a better and healthier every day for every woman. That is why our goal is to work with partners—governments, not-for-profits, healthcare institutions, and philanthropic institutions—to introduce innovative healthcare solutions for women. We have introduced several fertility and contraceptive products into the Indian market…

Our sub-dermal implant, ImplanonNxt, is our most novel product. ImplanonNxt is a long-acting reversible contraceptive belonging to a class of drugs called progestins, which can be easily inserted sub-dermally, just under the skin on the inner side of the non-dominant upper arm. Once inserted, it provides protection against pregnancy for a period of three years with 99 percent efficacy. It is extremely safe and easily removable. Once a woman decides to stop using it, fertility returns within one month easily. It does not require much maintenance–which means fewer visits to the doctor, lower expenditure, and a lesser burden on the healthcare infrastructure.

Contraceptives such as ImplanonNxt have the potential to provide a long-term contraceptive solution to women. However, it is imperative that one is properly counselled on available choices and their impact on health.

How is your company doing in India and how do you see its growth in the near future?

Organon is present in over 140 markets around the world. Through India market operations, we serve a population of 1.8 billion people living in South Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. In the next five years, we plan to double our presence and provide our products to many more women across South Asia.

We are already partnering with the governments' family planning programmes in many countries, investing in women's health portfolios and collaborating with local stakeholders…

Organon is actively making efforts to grow its portfolio to address the healthcare needs of women. In our first year (2021), we have had four significant partnerships and acquisitions. The first acquisition was Alydia Health. Its product JADA is a device for controlling postpartum haemorrhage, currently available in the US.

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Fernando Pharma, our second acquisition, has two investigational products, one for endometriosis and the other for PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). The third agreement is a global licensing deal with Daré Bioscience. The agreement gives Organon global rights to XACIATO (clindamycin phosphate vaginal gel, 2 percent), an FDA-approved treatment for bacterial vaginosis in females aged 12 years and over.

The fourth agreement is a global licensing agreement with ObsEva to develop and commercialise Ebopiprant, an investigational agent being evaluated as a first-in-class treatment for preterm labour.

In 2022, Organon entered into a strategic partnership with Cirqle Biomedical for research and conducting preclinical studies around a novel investigational non-hormonal, on-demand contraceptive candidate. Another key development this year has been USFDA approval of Organon and Samsung Bioepis biosimilar for patients suffering from certain chronic, autoimmune diseases.