Think You Know India?

by Gauri Pathak | Sep 21, 2018

While unique challenges exist in today's healthcare growth markets, there are many opportunities for pharma companies to flourish in these still largely un-tapped markets. To achieve commercial success, a local presence and a comprehensive understanding of local market nuances are a must for developing and executing a highly informed market access strategy. This allows companies to address foreseen and unforeseen market barriers, secure positions on formularies, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of the people in these countries and regions. This formula for success is especially true for pharma companies looking to do business, or expand business, in India.

India Today

As the second most populous country in the world, India faces a wide variety of health challenges across its diverse demographics, especially its large under 30 population. Type 2 diabetes is highly prevalent and treatment goals are hard to achieve due to Indians not being disciplined with treatment regimens. Infectious diseases – such as malaria, dengue fever and tuberculosis – are also a pressing issue due to poor infrastructure and public health systems.

High out-of-pocket (OOP) expense is a significant issue in India, as Indian patients pay a large proportion of health expenses from their personal savings. In fact, more than 75 percent of Indians have no health insurance at all. This leads to extreme price sensitivity in the market, with the pharmaceuticals sector dominated by low-priced generics. The market is further pressurized by the fact that the Indian government controls the prices of most pharmaceutical products as a way to make medicines more affordable to the lower socio-economic classes. While commendable, this practice presents tremendous challenges for pharmaceutical companies when they attempt to launch innovative medicines for Indian patients.

Changing Commercial Landscape

With local Indian companies dominating the market with good quality, competitively-priced products, multinational companies have been compelled to play the local game in India, where their portfolios consist of branded generic medicines apart from their research ones. While some innovative molecules do have patent protection, the majority of the market consists of branded generics. Also, the current market environment has limited flexibility in the pricing of innovative molecules and presents companies with tough challenges in marketing these medicines.

Additionally, co-marketing and licensing deals are the new trend, offering a win-win scenario for both local and multinational company partners. For example, major pharmaceutical companies are entering into India-specific strategic partnerships in order to gain market access for their diabetes medicines in India. Also, in order to ensure greater uptake and access to medicines for patients, patient support and assistance programs are also on the rise, with companies initially providing medicines for free and then moving to a financial need-based criteria or a system where some medicine is provided for free after purchase.

With India’s commercial landscape rapidly changing, Kantar Health believes that a major market shift lies ahead that will produce a greater number of public and private partnerships in the healthcare sector.

Another major market shift relates to the explosion of technology, such as mobile devices and internet connectivity, and its role in treating diseases and conditions. Patient centricity will be an increasingly important focus for pharma companies, as Indian patients, who are becoming more empowered by their high education levels and online access to medical information, will offer a key voice in treatment decisions made along with their physicians.

For companies to create a differentiation in India's pharma market, they will need to focus on patient centricity, make smart use of digital tools to access the patient, build a strong diabetes portfolio, and cater to the upper classes with premium lifestyle products, such as dermatology and nutritional therapies. To give companies a competitive advantage in this complex market environment, Kantar Health offers a variety of proprietary approaches, frameworks and resources that deliver unique market insights.

Inside the Growth Markets

While our discussion today has been India-focused, for more information please be sure to check out Kantar Health's Edge of Insight report, Inside the Growth Markets, where we take an in-depth look at today's most attractive healthcare growth markets – China, Brazil, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Central and Eastern Europe – and detail what steps pharma companies can take to achieve commercial success.

Please feel free to reach out to me at info@kantarhealth.com.

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