Mumbai: After posting double-digit growth rates for three months in a row, pharmaceutical sales in India shifted to a slower pace in March. Sales last month grew 8.9%, easing from a more than 10% rise each in the earlier three months, shows AIOCD data compiled by ICICI Securities Ltd. AIOCD Pharmasofttech AWACS Pvt. Ltd is a pharmaceutical market research firm.
The softening stemmed from lower volume, which grew just 1.5%.
Barring cancer and blood-related medications, most therapies slowed down, points out Jefferies India Pvt. Ltd. This pushed the growth rate to 9.9%, a tad below the 10% mark for the quarter ended March 2019. This is similar to the 9–9.8% rise the industry saw in the earlier three quarters.
Growth for the full fiscal year is a respectable 9.6%. But, for investors eyeing a continuing double-digit rise in sales, the sequential slowdown last month is being viewed as a tough pill to swallow.
In fact, the industry has seen strong double-digit growth rates in the past. FY15 and FY16 saw annual sales of about 13%, shows data compiled by ICICI Securities.
Even so, as Jefferies India points out, market growth may well be range-bound at around 10% in the near future. Apart from the high base, the market is seeing a structural change in sales, with chronic therapies growing faster.
Analysts at Edelweiss Securities Ltd point out that increasing prevalence of generic drugs can weigh on pharmaceutical growth. Regulatory intervention and new drug approvals are other factors influencing the sector, unless sales of seasonal illness drugs see a rise.