The Monthly Pharma Bulletin: May’2020

Pharma News| Global Pharma Industry| Domestic Pharma Industry India|14th May Bulletin

 

  1. Covid19 – a major contributor to the dwindling Indian pharma sector:

Complete lockdown has altered various aspects of the Indian economy. The pharma sector has also faced several glitches owing to this. While the growth of the domestic market grew by 9% in March, it remained uncertain in April. A steep decline in the sales of prescription drugs led to the fall of the market by 11.2% year-on-year (YoY) in April. AIOCD AWACS has recently shown that this fall was attributed to the reduction in the sales of anti-infective drugs (21.5%), gynecological drugs (23%) and dermatological drugs (22.5%). This was because these contributed to 11%, 6% and 5% of the domestic market respectively. The promotion of telemedicine platforms to improve the sale of prescription drugs is now adopted to stabilize the pharma sector.

 

Sales at Wockhardt and Alkem Laboratories fell by 26.9 and 16.6% respectively with the latter losing 40% of its sales due to reduced sales of anti-infective drugs. Though many believe this fall is sharp and is about 19% if compared on a month-to-month basis, some companies remain unaffected. The Mumbai-based JB Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals witnessed a surge of 30.8% YoY growth in the cardiac segment with metrogyl alone securing a 5% YoY growth in April. Similar YoY growth of 5.9 and 6.4% were witnessed for the sales of cardiac and diabetic drugs in April. Ipca Laboratories depicted a humongous growth of 35.7 % through the sales of anti-malarial drugs like hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

2. Demand for quality talents in the pharma sector amidst COVID-19:

A current wave of job dismissal has begun to throw many employees in chaos but these turbulent tides are yet to reach the pharma sectors. Pharma companies are now eagerly looking out to hire quality talents especially in the fields of drug development and regulatory affairs. Hiring consultants have claimed that about 2,800 job vacancies are currently present for Active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) experts, regulatory affairs experts and marketing/sales staff that are experts in handling the digital market. While 700 regulatory roles require immediate hiring, other areas in demand include those developing complex injectable products, technology transfer, quality assurance and drug discovery.

With pharma companies seeking out talented people who understand drug development, clinical trials and regulatory requirements, many have now begun to provide a 40-50% hike in salaries to poach these people. This is particularly the case in the US and the European markets. While this was an issue of concern for some time, it is now resolved owing to the lock down measures and so, many feel that quality talents will now be retained in India and be imported.

 

However, this demand is only for individuals with the right skills and experience and not for fresh graduates as the latter are not in tune with the industry. But, those with at least two years of experience in the industry are considered for the jobs. HR consultants believe that this is one of the driving factors for the attrition rates to be around 20% even though 2,25,000 pharmacy students are graduating every year in India.

3. Accusations on Aurobindo Pharma by Teva Pharmaceuticals in the US :

Bendeka is an anti-cancer drug indicated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia and B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Chemically, it is bendamustine hydrochloride and Eagle Pharmaceuticals holds the patent rights to this drug. This company gave Cephalon Inc the rights to sue for infringement of the drug which was then handed over to Teva Pharmaceuticals in 2015. The patent expires in 2033 and till then no other company is allowed to manufacture the generic version of this drug.

However, on May 11,2020 Teva filed a petition in the US district court of Delaware stating that Aurobindo Pharma has violated this by submitting an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) to the US FDA. According to the notice letter sent to Teva, Aurobindo Pharma plans to produce a generic version of Bendeka injection 100mg/4ml (25mg/ml) before the patent expires. Though this is submitted with paragraph IV Patent certifications, Teva has sought the court to employ an injunction to prevent the manufacturing, marketing and sale of this generic drug.

 

References :

  1. Business-standard – May 13,2020 
  2. Money control – May 14,2020 
  3. The Hindu business line –May 14,2020 
May 15, 2020

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