Pharmacia To Expand Business Post Pfizer Merger

New Delhi, January 21: | Updated: Jan 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
Pharmacia India, the Indian subsidiary of the 10th largest pharmaceutical company in the world, is waiting for the global merger of Pharmacia and Pfizer to be formalised soon to move its operations into high gear.

It is also hoping for an unambiguous drug policy to be put in place soon, to to make further investments in the business.

Speaking to FE, the companys managing director Dr VS Sohoni said that Pharmacia has definite plans for substantially increasing its business in India from the current Rs 100 crore it clocked in the calendar year 2002. But much of it has been put on hold, till the merger with Pfizer comes through. The merger was announced on July 15, 2002. The shareholders have already voted in favour of the merger, and approval is expected from the Securities and Exchange Commission, USA and the European Commission soon.

The Indian operations too would merge to become a Rs 850 crore company with over 1,600 people. Dr Sohoni said this would give the merged entity a lot more resources to take the stakes higher, as India holds a lot of potential. It is not only a huge market in terms of size, but also has in place a good healthcare delivery infrastructure. But before that, like any other multinational, one needs to see a strong regulatory framework in place to implement the commitments made at the World Trade Organisation on the issue of intellectual property rights before the 2005 deadline. Dr Sohoni added that India also needs to agree on the issue of data exclusivity to spur fresh investments and see more products in the market from global pharma companies.

Pharmacia has also launched its latest global offering, the Tecnic lens in India. Currently intraocular lens used in cataract surgery improve visual acuity, but do not correct positive corneal aberrations. It implies that these cannot focus a sharp image on the retina leading to loss in contrast sensitivity and functional vision. It is similar to the effect on vision due to dense fog.

The new patented Tecnic lens take care of this shortcoming and closely simulate the youthful crystalline natural lens. These lens are currently being imported by the company, and are in the upper segment of the market, priced close to Rs 4,500. But some of the other models are manufactured by the company at its Bangalore facility.

The opthamology division of the company contributes about 12 per cent to the topline in India, and is expected to grow at 25-30 per cent annually. The market potential is huge, considering there are about 10 million people in the country waiting to be operated for cataract, and another three million being affected annually according to Dr Sohoni. The capacity to treat patients is about 2.5-3 million according to industry estimates. However, a lot of these patients can at best afford entry-level lens. Pharmacia products are priced more for the mid to upper segments.

Pharmacia India is a subsidiary of Pharmacia Corporation, the worlds tenth largest pharma company, soon to be the biggest after merging with Pfizer. With revenues in excess of $10 billion (Rs 48,000 crore), it invests over $2 billion in research and development (R&D). The Indian arm is not engaged in any R&D, but does conduct clinical trials. Its product range covers oncology, opthamology, growth hormones and therapeutic areas like cardiovascular, central nervous system, antibiotics and female healthcare.