India offers a tremendous growth potential and from a future growth perspective, the company is open to partnerships for increasing access and address the unmet medical need of patients across therapeutic areas for our differentiated products.
Japan-headquartered Eisai Pharma is bullish about its India operations and is eyeing collaborations. Eisai was the first company to set up its R&D and manufacturing operations of formulation and bulk drugs in India. India offers a tremendous growth potential and from a future growth perspective, the company is open to partnerships for increasing access and address the unmet medical need of patients across therapeutic areas for our differentiated products, Sanjit Singh Lamba, MD, Eisai Pharmaceuticals India, tells BV Mahalakshmi in an interview. Excerpts:
What is the road map for Eisai Pharma in India with respect to manufacturing under the Make in India programme?
Research and manufacturing for global markets is our focus area and we have been investing regularly to augment our capacity as well as capability. We have invested around $20 million in the last two years to augment our research as well as API manufacturing and some additional warehousing capacity. We continue to pursue opportunities including collaborative models and growing with our existing products and new launches. We recently announced the launch of fycompa, a new anti-epileptic drug, which has been approved in more than 55 countries. Earlier this year, we had launched lenvima for radio iodine refractory thyroid cancer.
Are you open to collaborations with Indian pharma companies in R&D efforts?
In the past few years, the way the Indian industry has progressed is a good example of collaborations and driving growth through synergy. There are a lot of successful models in diabetes and other therapeutic areas. At Eisai, we have had successful partnerships for our products with Wockhardt from 1999. Recently, we have out-licensed one of our brands, parit, to Biocon. From a future growth perspective, we are open to looking at partnerships that will help us increase access and address the unmet medical need of patients across therapeutic areas for our differentiated products.
Tell us something about your focus on the Japanese market.
From our Vizag facility, we are already exporting medicines to a number of countries including Japan. In order to meet the increasing demand of the Japanese market, we have recently expanded our bulk drug facility. We are also looking at expanding the formulation facility in near future as the demand keeps on increasing and more products are getting added to our portfolio for India consumption and exports. The Japanese market is also opening up for generic products. At present, the market has already reached a level of 60% generic by prescription.
As a company, we are able to make high quality products that can cater to the needs of the Japanese market for both innovative and generic products.
For the last eight years, we are the only company from India that is successfully exporting APIs and drug products to Japan. At present, less than 2% of the Japanese market is serviced from India. The main criteria is a very high quality and sustainable stable supply of products. Hence, if we focus on total quality management, there is enough potential to grow business from India in the Japanese market.
How do you see the opportunity in the Japan market?
Japan continues to be a highly regulated market with key focus on quality of products. At Vizag, for the last seven years, we have a facility that has been audited twice by the USFDA and PMDA without any significant observations. We have successfully been exporting products to the Japan market from our Vizag facility.
Our entire objective has been to ensure TQM (total quality management) because of which we have been successful in the Japanese market. In India, we maintain the same quality of products that are supplied to the exports markets. The regulatory scenario and the customer expectations in Japan are very tough and hence most companies find it difficult to enter the Japanese pharmaceutical market.
How important is the India centre for your global operations?
Higher R&D costs, a relatively dry pipeline for new drugs, increasing pressure from payers and providers for reduced healthcare costs, access to medicine and a host of other factors are putting pressure on our global locations and are looking for new ways to boost drug discovery potential, reduce time to market and squeeze costs along the whole value chain. This had resulted in foundation of fourth knowledge centre in Visakhapatnam. Eisai has invested in state-of-the-art R&D in India that extends across a wide range of pharmaceutical and healthcare categories.