Doxil nod validates our capability to develop complex products

Written by MG Arun | Updated: Feb 8 2013, 08:31am hrs
Like other major Indian pharma companies, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries too has been reaping rich gains from its US operations, with US formulation sales contributing 49% to overall revenues in the September quarter. Earlier this week, the US FDA, the federal drug watchdog, allowed the company to sell the generic version of Janssen R&D LLCs ovarian cancer drug Doxil. The injectable drug has an estimated annual global sales of between $200-300 million, and analysts estimates Sun to get incremental revenues of around R276 crore annually from this alone. Meanwhile Taro, the Israeli firm in which Sun Pharma owns 66.7% and has a substantial presence in the US, said its net profit grew 43% on strong US sales for the December quarter, largely driven by price hikes. Dilip Shanghvi, managing director, Sun Pharma talks about the prospects in the US and in other geographies in an interview with MG Arun.

How significant is the FDAs recent move to approve generic Doxil for Sun Pharma How much incremental revenues do you envisage for Sun from this

Fairly important, and it validates our scientific strength and capability to develop complex technology-based products. It is a matter of great pride for all at Sun Pharma, especially our R&D, manufacturing and regulatory teams. On this occasion, the FDA announced the approval of the first generic version of Doxil via press release, which underlines the importance of the development for the FDA and the US public in general. While weve not shared specific revenue estimates from generic Doxil, it should be an interesting product.

From the perspective of patients, how will this drug be advantageous

Liposomal Doxorubicin is used in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Ensuring a steady supply for a drug that was previously in acute short supply will allow treatment protocols to be completed effectively.

Sun Pharma has been aggressive in the US market, with two recent acquisitions and a host of launches from Taro. What potential do you see in the US market going ahead, especially in the context of the so-called patent-cliff

Were optimistic about the opportunity the $50 billion-plus US generic market offers to companies that are integrated and quick to market.

Sun Pharma is looking to buy all the outstanding shares of Taro not currently held by the former at $39.59 a piece. However, the recent spurt in Taro shares could make the buy tough, analysts said. What are your views

Our offer is $39.50.

Now that you have completed the DUSA Pharma acquisition, what are the plans for stepping up investments and spurring growth

Were studying the business. We believe there is good scope to expand the indications and also add markets in other countries.

In one of your conference calls, you said you remain excited about the dermatology segment, and want to develop it as a franchise. What are the plans for this going forward

We now have a good range of dermatologicals in our US portfolio. We have interesting products in our R&D and in the pipeline.

Excluding Taro, rest of the world (ROW) sales in the first half were up 40% in dollar terms in the second quarter. How sustainable is this growth and what would be the key segments of growth

Most of the ROW sales are from prescription products in chronic therapy areas across the 40-plus markets that we operate in with a local field force. This is a sustainable, repeat-revenue kind of business, and offers excellent opportunities for Indian companies with their brand building and customer relationship expertise.

What is the way ahead in the Indian domestic formulations market, where the company grew 19% in sales, given the intensifying competition in this space

You are right, the market is very competitive. But the pharma market is a demographic story, and with economic growth, a larger part of our populace is able to afford medicines and is able to access healthcare. IMS says the Indian market may exceed $20 billion by 2015. We hope to be able to grow in all the participated therapies.

What are your views on the pharmaceutical pricing policy that caps the prices of 348 essential medicines

We await the policys implementation.