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Abbott India’s Coming Of Age

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Abbott India — the manufacturer of popular painkiller Brufen and antacid Digene — has been catapulted to the numero uno position enjoying a market share of over 7 per cent in the $11.1-billion Indian pharmaceutical market, thanks to its acquisition of Piramal Healthcare's domestic formulation business and Solvay Pharmaceuticals' Indian operations.

So what's next? On the cards is the launch of several new products, deeper penetration of the rural and semi-urban geographies and making India a hub for exporting generic-branded drugs to similar emerging markets.

Last May, Abbott purchased Piramal Healthcare's domestic business for over Rs 17,000 crore ($3.7 billion). Now its business in India — worth over a $1 billion in sales — has been re-grouped under two companies. While Abbott India takes care of the pharmaceutical business and Solvay's operations, privately held Abbott Healthcare looks after nutrition, laboratory diagnostics, medical equipment and pharmaceutical products, besides the Piramal's formulation division that had a turnover of Rs 2,200 crore at the time of acquisition.

Since September last year, Abbott's market share in India has grown by 16.5 per cent, whereas the industry grew by 12.9 per cent, according to IMS, a global drug sales tracking agency. Abbott had integrated Piramal's business by September last year.  

Abbott India, which is a publicly listed company, recorded total revenue of Rs 972.86 crore in 2010, a growth of 16.4 per cent over 2009. This year, it is on track to perform well above the industry growth rate of 14-16 per cent, says its managing director Vivek Mohan.

Earlier, Michael J. Warmuth, senior vice-president and head of established products of the pharmaceutical products group of
Abbott Laboratories, had said the company hoped to touch a turnover of over $2.5 billion in India by 2020. This will include the revenues of both Abbott India and Abbott Healthcare.

As part of its plans, Abbott India will launch 14 products within a year  in high growth segments such as women's health, cardio vascular, neurological and metabolic disorder diseases, says Mohan. In the past one year, Abbott launched 13 products in India. Currently, 11 drugs of Abbott are among the top 300 brands.

"Starting 2012, Abbott will market 24 generic drugs in 15 emerging markets," Vivek Mohan Managing director, Abbott India

"We, as a group, employ about 12,000 people in India and nearly 85 per cent of them are field staff — more than any other domestic pharmaceutical company. We will leverage this strength for better growth," says Mohan. The company has recruited over a 1,000 people in one year.

Next on the agenda are plans to make India a hub for generic drug sales in emerging markets. The company has entered into a licensing agreement with Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila to market 24 products in 15 emerging markets with an option to add another 40 from next year. Most of these drugs will be related to cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and respiratory diseases.

The Indian pharmaceutical market is estimated to become a part of the top 10 with sales of $20 billion by 2015, according to a McKinsey analysis.  

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 26-12-2011)