AFTER PATENT LAW, DRUG FIRMS IN INDIA REALIGN STRATEGY
The introduction of WHO-compliant patent legislation in India has led to a profound reorientation in the country's US$4.6bn drug sector. Local reports claim a number of multinationals have changed their strategies, and are planning to launch high-value patented products on the market, targeting affluent consumers. Wealthy patients account for more than INR100bn (US$2.3bn) of India's drug sales each year.
GlaxoSmithKline India reportedly plans to introduce a dozen products from its parent company's patented portfolio. The company could also in-license drugs in areas currently outside its main research focus. GSK insists that new launches will be based on criteria of greater therapeutic efficacy, rather than purely commercial considerations.
Meanwhile, domestic drugmakers, which specialise in high-volume, low-cost generics, are planning to expand into semi-urban and rural areas where consumer spending power is lower but volume sales are high. Zydus Cadila has hired a leading consultant to draw up its expansion plans for these markets. Meanwhile, companies which already have a strong international focus are likely to continue this strategy.
In order to improve the country's intellectual property protection further,
the government is preparing the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill 2005, whose
aims include a crackdown on counterfeiting. In the latest draft, the maximum
prison sentence for perpetrators has been increased to a life term, with fines
of up to INR100,000 (US$2,285) also made available. The measure could prove
key to allaying fears over enforcement of India's new patent laws.