Want to be among top 5 in the Indian market

Written by Soma Das | Updated: Jan 30 2010, 05:07am hrs
The largest pharma research company Pfizer Incs regional president for south-east Asia, Gerry Bacarro, was in Karnal late last week to get a feel of the community work that the company has undertaken in villages of Haryana. In a chat with FEs Soma Das, Bacarro discussed issues relating to patent regime in India, allegation of generic companies that big pharma firms are trying to portray India as a source of spurious drugs and Pfizer Indias business plans. Excerpts:

What is the thought behind the Karnal project Are you in talks with the government to integrate this under the umbrella of National Rural Health Mission

The project is the result of an eight-year-long relation we share with the charitable organisation Arpana Trust. In select 40 villages, the project volunteers have been working relentlessly to improve the quality of life of women and children. The result is that in these villages anaemia has decreased by 32% in pregnant women and 51% in adolescent girls. A 94% coverage of antenatal check ups, a 20% jump in institutional deliveries have been achieved compared to 2002 levels. Now we are expanding the project to cover 100 villages in Haryana. We are in active talks with the government to find out modalities through which the project can be integrated into the National Rural Health Mission.

Where does India figure in Pfizer Incs global strategy and priorities

India is one of the most important emerging markets. Clearly our strategy is to emerge as one of the top five players in the domestic market in a few years. Also, India already is a source of our global growth. We want to have our rightful share in this very important market. After the acquisition of Wyeth, we are attained the eighth position from 12 (in terms of market share) in India.

And how do you plan to achieve that

We will strive to keep our organic growth higher than the industry average, something that we have already achieved. Apart from the conventional route of product portfolio expansion, we would try to strike strategic alliances in the domestic pharma space with some of the key players in the Indian market. We will nurture our talent and would grow by geographic expansion. In terms of appropriating India as a source of growth, we have already struck partnership with Aurobindo Pharma, Claris Lifesciences and Strides Astrolab, through which we have gained rights to market their products in multiple geographies. We are not ruling out more of similar tie-ups. In the world of innovation where cost advantage is a key factor, India would play a very important role.

Is Pfizer aggressively looking at buys in the Indian pharma space

We are looking at potential partners but right now it is too early to comment on what these potential alliances could be. We are still assessing what makes perfect sense for Pfizer and the potential partner in the Indian domestic market and whether that kind of partnership can be extended to outside of India.

Lately, the Indian generic drug makers have been making serious allegations that big pharma players have been trying to brand India as a source of spurious drugs. Your take on this.

This question should be ideally posed to those who have been making such allegations. We have full faith in India as a credible source for drugs. The thought reflects in our actions. The fact that we have forged partnership with Aurobindo Pharma, Claris Lifesciences, Strides Astrolab through which we are using our marketing channels to take their product to other emerging markets says a lot about the trust that Pfizer has in India as a source of drugs.

What are your thoughts on existing patent system in the country.

The patent system of the country is still evolving. We have concerns on the issue of what is patentable and what is not, regarding full adherence to global TRIPS and regarding data exclusivity. However, we have full confidence in the system.