Pharma sector in good health

Pharma sector in good health

New Delhi: ‘Eventful´would perhaps be the most apt term to describe the year 2008 for the Indian pharmaceutical industry, for it saw hefty excise duty cuts, foreign firms acquiring domestic ones, legal tussles against the US FDA ban on import of some drugs by the US FDA, et al.

And hogging the limelight was none other than Ranbaxy Laboratories, which was accused of trying a hostile takeover of Chennai-based Orchid Pharmaceuticals, and ended up itself being acquired by Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo in a total deal valued around Rs21,000 crore -- the largest-ever in Indian pharma industry so far.

While Ranbaxy and Orchid settled for an amicable solution with the former taking less than 15% stake in the latter, the Gurgaon-based firm could not prevent itself from a crackdown by the US Food and Drugs Administration (USFDA), which banned import of 30 of its generic drugs.

Not to be left behind, Sun Pharmaceuticals was also in the news for a good part of the year after its failed bid to take over Israel’s Taro Pharmaceuticals.

A year after striking a $454 million deal, Sun found that the Israeli firm was no longer willing to be acquired and what followed was a long-drawn court battle and a game of one-upmanship, with Sun making an open offer to Taro shareholders. The matter is far from being settled.

Yet, the year could not have begun on a better note for the industry, which is poised to become a $33 billion market by 2011-12, including $22 billion of exports (as per consultancy firm KPMG estimates). The then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram halved the excise duty on pharmaceutical products from 16 per cent to eight per cent in the Budget.