Home / Companies / Foreign drug makers seek to dominate Indian market again

Bangalore: As pressure mounts on the pharmaceutical industry to increase revenue, multinational companies (MNCs) are adopting various strategies to increase access to the Indian market, forcing it into a “back-to-the-future mode", according to global management consultancy and technology outsourcing firm Accenture.

Michael A. Rainey, global managing director of life sciences and a partner at the $21.58 billion (around Rs1 trillion) firm, was referring to a time when MNCs were dominant in the domestic market.

New strategies: Accenture’s Michael A. Rainey sees consolidation in the Indian pharma indusrty. Hemant Mishra/Mint

Rainey, in Bangalore to celebrate “life sciences week" at Accenture India, is driving several innovative strategies to help clients, particularly global pharma, sell more effectively in India as well as other emerging markets. Accenture says it believes there’s a whole new range of services, which can now be delivered offshore.

“Sales and marketing were traditionally not outsourced but we believe, with new technologies, we can deliver," said Rainey.

Towards that end, two of the new strategic areas of focus for the consulting firm are analytics and mobile technology; the former makes sense of large amounts of data arriving from diverse sources and the latter makes that data available to stakeholders in the field or in the hospital. Accenture believes this will bring about a churn in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, as its historical model has fallen apart with physicians globally finding little or no time to interact with sales representatives.

“Such innovation is needed not only in sales and marketing but even in distribution. A good amount of churn is required here... India has 60,000 distributors," said Sanjay Singh, associate director at the audit firm KPMG.

Accenture is also beefing up its resources to get into another new area—regulatory services outsourcing, something big pharma hasn’t done so far but is preparing for.

But it’s the Indian contract manufacturing industry that Rainey thinks is likely to gain the most, provided it makes the right investments and innovations. “There’s immense excess capacity in manufacturing around the globe. It’ll be interesting if MNCs work with Indian contract manufacturers, though the latter need to innovate to meet new demands as the industry moves from small molecule drugs to large molecule, biotechnology drugs." The small molecule business is chemistry-driven, whereas the large molecule drug is biology-centric.

How well the Indian contract manufacturers and service providers move up the chain remains to be seen, but big pharma is aggressively pursuing new strategies in India to differentiate itself from Indian generics-based companies.

“Many MNCs are recognizing that they are not just a products company. To their understanding of disease, they are now adding some services," Rainey said. Setting up a network of patients to build communities, creating a repository of new treatments and nutrition management are some of the services on offer. “Big companies are investing in wrap-around services and leveraging global scale, something an Indian company may not be able to invest in," he said.


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