Jun 21, 2004|
Indian Pharma Industry: SWOT analysis
It is often said that the pharma sector has no cyclical factor attached to it. Irrespective of whether the economy is in a downturn or in an upturn, the general belief is that demand for drugs is likely to grow steadily over the long-term. True in some sense. But are there risks? This article gives a perspective of the Indian pharma industry by carrying out a SWOT analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat).
Before we start the analysis lets look a little back in the industry's last six years performance. The Industry is a largely fragmented and highly competitive with a large number of players having interest in it. The following chart shows the breakup of the growth (YoY) of Indian pharmaceutical industry in last six years.
*Volume growth of existing products
The SWOT analysis of the industry reveals the position of the Indian pharma industry in respect to its internal and external environment.
- Indian with a population of over a billion is a largely untapped market. In fact the penetration of modern medicine is less than 30% in India. To put things in perspective, per capita expenditure on health care in India is US$ 93 while the same for countries like Brazil is US$ 453 and Malaysia US$189.
- The growth of middle class in the country has resulted in fast changing lifestyles in urban and to some extent rural centers. This opens a huge market for lifestyle drugs, which has a very low contribution in the Indian markets.
- Indian manufacturers are one of the lowest cost producers of drugs in the world. With a scalable labor force, Indian manufactures can produce drugs at 40% to 50% of the cost to the rest of the world. In some cases, this cost is as low as 90%.
- Indian pharmaceutical industry posses excellent chemistry and process reengineering skills. This adds to the competitive advantage of the Indian companies. The strength in chemistry skill help Indian companies to develop processes, which are cost effective.
- The Indian pharma companies are marred by the price regulation. Over a period of time, this regulation has reduced the pricing ability of companies. The NPPA (National Pharma Pricing Authority), which is the authority to decide the various pricing parameters, sets prices of different drugs, which leads to lower profitability for the companies. The companies, which are lowest cost producers, are at advantage while those who cannot produce have either to stop production or bear losses.
- Indian pharma sector has been marred by lack of product patent, which prevents global pharma companies to introduce new drugs in the country and discourages innovation and drug discovery. But this has provided an upper hand to the Indian pharma companies.
- Indian pharma market is one of the least penetrated in the world. However, growth has been slow to come by. As a result, Indian majors are relying on exports for growth. To put things in to perspective, India accounts for almost 16% of the world population while the total size of industry is just 1% of the global pharma industry.
- Due to very low barriers to entry, Indian pharma industry is highly fragmented with about 300 large manufacturing units and about 18,000 small units spread across the country. This makes Indian pharma market increasingly competitive. The industry witnesses price competition, which reduces the growth of the industry in value term. To put things in perspective, in the year 2003, the industry actually grew by 10.4% but due to price competition, the growth in value terms was 8.2% (prices actually declined by 2.2%)
- The migration into a product patent based regime is likely to transform industry fortunes in the long term. The new patent product regime will bring with it new innovative drugs. This will increase the profitability of MNC pharma companies and will force domestic pharma companies to focus more on R&D. This migration could result in consolidation as well. Very small players may not be able to cope up with the challenging environment and may succumb to giants.
- Large number of drugs going off-patent in Europe and in the US between 2005 to 2009 offers a big opportunity for the Indian companies to capture this market. Since generic drugs are commodities by nature, Indian producers have the competitive advantage, as they are the lowest cost producers of drugs in the world.
- Opening up of health insurance sector and the expected growth in per capita income are key growth drivers from a long-term perspective. This leads to the expansion of healthcare industry of which pharma industry is an integral part.
- Being the lowest cost producer combined with USFDA approved plants, Indian companies can become a global outsourcing hub for pharmaceutical products.
- There are certain concerns over the patent regime regarding its current structure. It might be possible that the new government may change certain provisions of the patent act formulated by the preceding government.
- Threats from other low cost countries like China and Israel exist. However, on the quality front, India is better placed relative to China. So, differentiation in the contract manufacturing side may wane.
- The short-term threat for the pharma industry is the uncertainty regarding the implementation of VAT. Though this is likely to have a negative impact in the short-term, the implications over the long-term are positive for the industry.
Click here to read our special report on how to identify a domestic and a MNC pharma company?
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