• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
  • Editorial Calendar 19-20
BW Businessworld

Clean Pills And Bills

The Union Budget contained a proposal to make changes in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to make generic prescription compulsory in the country

Photo Credit : Bloomberg

The Union Budget contained a proposal to make changes in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to make generic prescription compulsory in the country. When implemented, the measure will not only make medicines cheaper by making the brand promotion exercise of companies irrelevant, but also help remove several irrational combination drugs from the market.

India’s Rs 1 trillion pharmaceuticals market is most predominantly driven by branded generics. This unique model in India (no other pharma market in the world has the concept of branded generics) forces companies to spend a substantially high amount of money on brand building and promotion. Even though their investments for introducing these copy drugs are small, the substantially high promotion costs are directly passed on to the patient, with no direct benefit to the latter. Market research reveals that pharma companies make 100 per cent-4700 per cent profit on these brands, compared to generic drugs at the current retail price, despite the government’s price control.

It also encourages drug makers to indulge in unethical practices like launching irrational combination drugs for the sake of adding new brands to their portfolio and bribing doctors for prescribing those brands.

Making generic prescription compulsory is easy now as the doctors’ regulatory body, the Indian Medical Council also insists that the fraternity do so. But, the difficult part is ensuring the availability of quality generic drugs in the market. If the government is truly committed to its proposal, it must also install a generic drug supply channel.
—C. H. Unnikrishnan

Battered in the boardroom
Boardroom battles at India’s two leading corporate houses were the most discussed over the last few months. Since the fights were on the boards of the country’s corporate flag bearers, they were also critically discussed internationally. The removal of Cyrus Mistry from the board and the appointment of Chandrasekaran as the new chairman at Tata Sons and a truce between the founders and the board at Infosys, may have pressed the pause button on the raging battles inside these companies for the time being.

But, the real issue that would continue to trouble India Inc . and was the crux of these two boardroom battles was weak corporate governance and the serious charges that were exchanged between the warring partners.

Since these disturbing developments occurred at India’s bellwether companies, they have raised questions that will continue to haunt the investor community for long.Hence, the true resolve of the matters at Tata Sons and Infosys will never happen unless their boards investigate the cause of the trouble. That would not only help resolve their problems permanently ,but also boost the morale of India Inc.

—C. H Unnikrishnan

Will Consumers Gain?
As predicted by telecom players, almost half-a-decade ago, the market has begun witnessing consolidation. Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, the second and third players, have been in merger talks for some time now.

Market leader Bharti Airtel has quietly acquired Telenor, to give it access to additional Spectrum plus 44 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Reliance Communications has reportedly initiated talks to explore possibilities of a merger of Tata Teleservices with RCom-MTS-Aircel merged entity.

All these steps are seen by market experts as combined efforts of the industry to cut cost and improve margins in the wake of the continued onslaught of Reliance Jio that is pouring in over $20 billion in investments and offering free voice and data to the new subscribers since its soft launch in September 2016.

RJio’s entry has forced others to cut tariffs that have dented the financials of listed players, including Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular for the December quarter. RJio has already announced its plans to charge Rs 303/month from April 1, 2017 for unlimited usage as it has already acquired 100 million subscribers over the past five months. Consumers are clearly in for a treat even as the tariff bloodbath continues to dent profits for one and all.
— Ashish Sinha

President’s Repast
The President’s Estate has one of the most powerful kitchens in the world. It is equipped with a team of 40 chefs, known for their culinary excellence, who run the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s kitchens, preparing banquets and high teas for the for the President, his family and the high-profile dignitaries who call on him from across the world.

The present occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Pranab Mukherjee, though, is known for his preference for simple meals and is apparently, not usually allured to the gourmet fare his kitchens churn out.

A little birdie who flies often to the grounds of the President’s Estate, says that the President, who as we just told you, could eat a meal of any kind he pleased, prefers to snack on puffed rice, popularly known as muri (murmure in North India).

Unfortunately, he is denied this humble delight of puffed rice crispies, because like all other entries to Rashtrapati Bhavan, they have to pass through multiple security check points.

The puffed rice, sensitive to moisture in the air, are usually a soggy mess by the time they reach the regal dining hall, denying Mukherjee the pleasuer of his favourite repast.
— Anuradha Shukla