Mumbai: GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s chief executive officer Andrew Witty said the UK’s largest drugmaker may buy assets in India in the price range of $1-2 billion to expand sales in the world’s second-fastest growing major economy.

“We are not in a hurry to grab such an opportunity at the current high premium valuation," Witty said on Tuesday. “We are already big in this market and not desperate to grow through a high premium deal."

The Glaxo global head did not specify the timeline for such a purchase or the type of company it is interested in. Witty had said Glaxo will look forward to growth opportunities including acquisitions in the country when he visited India after taking over as chief executive of the company.

Witty said a government proposal to restrict overseas investment in existing pharmaceutical assets in India was wrong and that foreign investment or local acquisitions by foreign companies will not lead to increase in drug prices.

Andrew Witty, CEO, GlaxoSmithKiline Plc. Bloomberg

Glaxo will globally follow a tiered pricing strategy, linked to the economic conditions of the individual countries, and whichever nation has the highest income level should alone pay a high price, he said.

Drug companies should focus on cost effective research and make the drugs affordable to all income groups, Witty said. “It’s not appropriate to think that a patent protection and a data exclusivity will make us richer all of a sudden," he said, while addressing the OPPI annual meeting.

India will be one of the most prominent markets among the emerging economies that the global drug makers are concentrating now, he said.

The Indian pharmaceutical market will be the next significant market by 2020 as the market presents vast opportunities for pharma companies, said a study by OPPI and consultant Ernst and Young that was released at the meeting.