Home >companies >news >Sun Pharma ups focus on consumer healthcare business with Pepmelt launch

New Delhi: India’s largest drugmaker Sun Pharmaceuticals Ltd is looking for a share of the market for antacids dominated by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd (GSK) in India with its recent launch of Pepmelt.

Launched in the last week of February, Pepmelt, which comes in a mouth-melt granules format, is also Sun’s first consumer healthcare product since the March 2015 completion of its merger with Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.

Antacids neutralise stomach acidity, relieving heartburn. The antacid market in India, valued at an annual Rs.1,180 crore by the Nielsen Retail Index, is led by GSK’s through its brand Eno, which holds a 45.8% market share. Its rivals include Digene, Gelusil and Pudin Hara, which are produced by the Indian units of Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer Inc and Dabur India Ltd, respectively.

Speculation that the company would shut down the consumer health business it inherited from Ranbaxy was wrong, said Dilip Shanghvi, managing director and founder, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries.

“The consumer health business is a very important component for our future growth, not only in India but in other markets where we have presence, where our idea is to grow the business, look at new products and look at potential inorganic opportunities," Shanghvi said.

Before the merger, over-the-counter (OTC) business contributed over 20% to Ranbaxy’s India sales. It was in April 2014 that Sun Pharma announced the acquisition of a 63.4% share in Ranbaxy from Daiichi Sankyo in a $4-billion all-share deal.

After the acquisition, the Mumbai-based pharma major inherited the consumer healthcare portfolio from Ranbaxy, in which Sun Pharma had no presence before. The portfolio has leading OTC brands like Revital, Volini, Chericof, Pepfiz and Garlic Pearls.

“This is the first product that we are launching in consumer healthcare segment after the merger. The major markets that we are targeting are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Through this product we are directly competing against the established players in antacid market," said Subodh Marwah, vice-president of consumer healthcare business, Sun Pharma.

The company has around 14 OTC products under the consumer healthcare portfolio, across major markets like India, Russia, Romania, Nigeria, Myanmar, Ukraine, Poland, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

“OTC is definitely a profitable business from Ranbaxy days. Ranbaxy’s OTC business was growing more than 15% per year. Hence, for Sun Pharma, it’s strategic to add more products into its kitty," said Sarabjit Kour Nangra, vice-president at Angel Broking.

Antacids come under four major categories. In the powder-water dissolving category, the major brands are Eno, Digene, Pepfiz, Gas-O-Fast and Pudin Hara with a market size of Rs.593.3 crore, according to Nielsen Retail Index.

Another category of liquid brands includes Digene, Gelusil and Pudin Hara with a Rs.425.2-crore market size. Tablets have a market size of Rs.167 crore with major brands like Digene, Pepfiz, Gas-O-Fast, Pudin Hara, Gelusil and Pepfiz.

“The antacid segment is growing at a rate of 21% per annum. With the launch of Pepmelt, we are launching a new category among antacids called powder-mouth-melt granules," Marwah added.

The consumer healthcare division of Ranbaxy started its operations in 2002 through the launch of Pepfiz, Gesdyp and Garlic Pearls.

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