What ails India’s pharma sector? Brand launches last year lowest since 2013

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The number of brand launches in the domestic pharmaceutical industry during all of 2017 was the lowest since 2013. Of the 3,932 pharma brands launched in the Indian pharmaceutical market (IPM), 386 were in the dermatology segment alone.
According to data from market research firm AIOCD AWACS, the leading therapy segments in terms of brand launches were dermatology, anti-infectives, cardiology and gastroenterology, among others (see chart).
Vaccines (18.2 per cent), dermatology (12.3 per cent), anti-diabetics (14 per cent) and sex stimulants (10.4 per cent) were some of the fastest-growing categories of 2017. Anti-diabetics has been a leading therapy for the past five years or so, consistently clocking double-digit growth rates peaking in 2015 at 23.8 per cent.
As drug firms enhance their focus on over the counter (OTC) medicines, categories like dermatology, vitamins, pain and analgesics have been featuring in the key therapy areas with the most number of drug launches.

According to Nicholas Hall 2017 report, the Indian OTC market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9 per cent and cross the $6.5-billion (Rs 441.1-billion) mark by 2026.
Only recently, India’s second-largest pharma major Lupin forayed into the OTC segment when it re-launched its 34-year-old legacy brand Softovac (constipation and irregular bowel habits medication) as on OTC product.
In November last year Ahmedabad-based Torrent Pharma had acquired Unichem Labs’ India business, which has popular OTC brands like Unienzyme. Nandini Piramal-led consumer products division of Piramal Enterprises also recently acquired Digeplex, a gastro-intestinal brand from Shreya Lifesciences. Piramal’s consumer arm had acquired four OTC brands from Pfizer last year.
Analysts say that a renewed focus on the OTC segment stems from the sluggish prescription growth. As such, the overall IPM growth rate was in the slow lane in 2017, at 5.5 per cent, down from 10.7 per cent growth in 2016.business-standard