Indian drugmaker Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd plans to step up sales of biosimilars, or copies of complex biotech drugs, in emerging markets in the next few years, its chief operating officer said on Thursday.
Indian drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd plans to step up sales of biosimilars, or copies of complex biotech drugs, in emerging markets in the next few years, its chief operating officer said on Thursday.
Biosimilars are a lucrative category of medicines that is expected to generate billions of dollars in sales in the next few years, but Indian drugmakers are lagging their Western peers in launching biosimilars in developed markets.
Dr Reddy’s, India’s No. 2 drugmaker by sales, generated $94 million from selling biosimilars to emerging markets between 2012 and 2015, and plans to launch products in Russia in the next few years. It is also looking at licensing opportunities in Southeast Asia, it said.
“We have a renewed focus on emerging markets … we are trying to make this as meaningful as possible in the next few years,” Chief Operating Officer Abhijit Mukherjee told analysts in a conference call on Thursday.
The regulatory pathway for approval of biosimilars is not clearly defined yet in some markets. The first biosimilar was launched in the United States only last month. But Mukherjee said more regulatory bodies in emerging markets had recently become “willing” to accept applications and so the company was targeting those markets.
Launches in the United States and Europe, however, are still “a few years away,” Mukherjee said. In these lucrative Western markets, Indian companies are well behind European, American and South Korean firms, industry executives and analysts say.
Dr Reddy’s is spending about 15 percent of its total research and development expenses on biosimilars, Mukherjee said, but the efforts “may not be meaningful” in the short term.
The company’s profit continues to be driven by sales of generics for now.
Dr Reddy’s posted record quarterly earnings on Thursday, outpacing analysts expectations as sales across North America, Europe and India rose.
The biggest boost came from the United States, where new product launches helped sales rise 32 percent. The company plans to file 30 percent more products for approval in the United States in this fiscal year, compared with a year earlier, Mukherjee said.
It also has plans to expand its generics business into Brazil and Colombia, and is considering acquisitions.
Its total profit for July-September rose 26 percent to 7.2 billion Indian rupee ($110 million), while analysts on average had expected 6.4 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data. ($1 = 65.3500 Indian rupees)