The Indian pharmaceutical industry: a time of growth and change (part 2)

Rebecca Aris interviews Tapan Ray


(Continues from ‘The Indian pharmaceutical industry: a time of growth and change (part 1)’)

Concluding his thoughts on Indian pharma, Tapan Ray shares his views on social media adoption by the industry and what he thinks the future of pharmaceuticals in India looks like.

Interview summary

RA: What are your thoughts on the Department of Pharmaceutical’s recently introduced draft code on pharma marketing practices?

TR: OPPI appreciates the initiative taken by Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) of the Government of India in this regard and is confident that the Code will provide uniform guidance for the pharmaceutical industry in its interaction with Healthcare Professionals. The document is well written, balanced and fair. The DoP should, indeed, be commended on the great work that they have done in putting all details of pharmaceutical marketing practices together in this document in a very comprehensive manner.

OPPI is happy to notice that the Department has taken note of various suggestions put forth by OPPI in the draft Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices submitted by OPPI along with other Industry Associations to the Department of Pharmaceuticals in November 2009.

It is worth mentioning that OPPI has been implementing its own ‘Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices’ since over last two decades and has been making it more and more stringent from time to time. In 2007, this Code was first revised and was further modified in 2010, keeping in view the amended guidelines for the medical profession introduced by the Medical Council of India at that time. OPPI Code of Marketing Practices 2010 is quite in line with the guidelines as suggested in the Government draft code.

“In India, though social media use is currently growing at around 35% annually, its overall utilization as an important marketing tool has remained rather limited”

RA: Do you see social media use being adopted widely in India and what do you think can be done to increase it?

In India, though social media use is currently growing at around 35% annually, its overall utilization as an important marketing tool has remained rather limited, thus far, with practically no significant usage by the Indian pharmaceutical industry.

However, it is envisaged that the pharmaceutical players in the country will start creating their own network of loyalists and engage them with social media for meaningful dialogues in various disease areas.

We should also realize, that in this new ball game, customers will really be the king and the quality of innovative usage of all powerful social media could well draw the decisive line between business communication success and failure.

The key advantages that social media could offer are as follows:

• Provides a free / cheaper social network media platform for networking, communicating and socializing among:

o Doctors and patients

o Doctors and doctors

o Patients and patients

• Provides patients with information on various health disorders, treatment available and sharing of experiences.

• Provides a new interactive advertising medium to increase brand awareness.

• Facilitates innovation through blogs.

• Helps keeping tab on competition.

Not only in India, even in some developed countries, there are no specific regulatory guidelines to promote pharmaceutical brands or create brand awareness through social media. The same scenario holds good for most of the countries of the world. In this much uncharted territory, as there are not enough foot-steps to follow, the pharmaceutical companies are currently just ‘testing the water’. Most probably to fathom how far regulatory authorities will allow them to explore with this new media.

RA: And finally, what do you think the future of pharma looks like for India and how does this compare with the rest of the world?

The pharmaceutical industry has grown from USD 11.4 Billion in 2010 to USD 13 Billion in 2011 recording a growth of 15% and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.7% for the period of 2010-2015 as per the IMS Prognosis Report 2011. This will take the Indian Pharmaceutical Market (IPM) to USD 55 Billion by 2020.

“…the pharmaceutical companies are currently just ‘testing the water’.”

Given the increase in the quantum of investments in the Hospital space, the delivery sector is growing exponentially. This in turn is providing an impetus to the overall growth of the IPM due to rapid increase in consumption of pharmaceuticals. The 9% contribution of Hospitals to the IPM is expected to grow by 25%.

Many MNCs are planning to drive the top line growth following India-centric strategies with branded generics and expanding the field force significantly. Mergers and Acquisitions are expected to continue, as India is being perceived as one of the key platforms for global launches of patented products.

Indian companies too are placing themselves on the growth trajectory by tapping new markets, launching novel combinations, investing in larger field force sizes for improved reach / penetration, better management of product portfolio, strengthening brand building activities and innovative marketing strategies.

With the growth opportunities appearing so buoyant, the companies need to strategize with sharp differentiated approach. Attracting and retaining talent to translate these grand strategies into reality, will be absolutely critical for the industry in the fast emerging scenario.

About the author:

Tapan Ray is the Director General of the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI).

Mr. Ray has over 30 years experience in the Pharmaceutical &amp, Life Science Industry and has held various senior positions in India and abroad like Global Commercial Strategy Manager, Glaxo plc., U.K., Director in the Board of Glaxo India Limited and Managing Director, Abbott Laboratories India Limited. He was also the President of OPPI.

Mr. Ray is a Member of the Council of International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers &amp, Associations (IFPMA), Geneva, Switzerland and also represents various Committees of the Government and Industry Associations like, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). He is also a Member of the Governing Board of Institute of Intellectual Property Studies (IIPS) and is a visiting faculty in India’s top Management Institutes.

Mr. Ray holds a B.Sc. (Honors) and a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Calcutta and was a National Scholar. He was trained at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad.

What does the future of Indian pharma look like?