Although most industry observers expect that Indian pharma exports to the US will pick up again in the coming years, Indian companies have – in the meantime – been rapidly increasing their efforts to develop stronger footprints in strategic emerging market such as Brazil, Russia and some Asian and African countries.
“Our ambition is to become more than a large Indian player. We are in fact aspiring to become the next Pfizer or J&J, with the goal of reaching at least half a billion dollars in five years, thanks to our joint ventures in Africa”
Pharmexcil identifies that roughly 20 percent of India’s pharma exports of around USD 17 billion go to African countries; making these countries a launchpad in the international strategies of a significant number of Indian exporters. This aspect gained a higher significance as Indian companies have steadily established themselves as partners of choice of international healthcare NGOs and aid agencies over the past decades.
“Over the past 16 years, we have been partnering with Europe-based NGOs such as MSF as well as aid and UN agencies including UNICEF. The latter notably rely on centralized procurement to supply various emerging markets, notably in Africa,” explains Bhupendra Sangani, founder and managing director of Galentic, an Indian manufacturer in the dermatology and ophthalmology arenas. “These partnerships provided us with a great opportunity to increase our visibility in several African countries. Consequently, we approached the relevant health authorities and started directly exporting our products to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Namibia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Botswana,” he reveals.
Building on its increasing strength in Africa, Galentic started registering products across the Middle East and in several Southeast Asian and Latin American countries, and it is now awaiting US FDA approval for a recently-built manufacturing plant in Gujarat. “In less than two decades, Galentic products are already approved in 40 countries, and international markets make up around 90 percent of our revenues,” highlights Sangani.
Medtech and pharma player, Alves Group, is also sharpening its ambitions for this promising continent. “To enter the big league, we are to set up joint ventures in foreign markets, starting with Africa in the next five years, where we have already set up joint ventures in five countries,” explains the group’s founder and chairman Randolph Alves.
“The secret of a win-win joint-venture is to find a market that helps the company grow with a real market need, and to give back to the community in return; the reason we set up joint ventures in Africa is because healthcare was virtually absent over there, and manufacturing margins were higher in Africa than in India. In parallel, we wanted to bring down the healthcare costs of the continent and train the community on how to manufacture their own pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Finally, I love the spirit of Africa, a place rich in natural resources and not yet commercialized,” he explains. In terms of revenues, Alves is expecting at least USD 100 million from each African country, since each is spending from USD 200 million dollars to half a billion on healthcare
“Our ambition is to become more than a large Indian player. We are in fact aspiring to become the next Pfizer or J&J, with the goal of reaching at least half a billion dollars in five years, thanks to our joint ventures in Africa. Latin America will be the second region to invest in. We will then eye South East Asia and finally consider the CIS countries,” he concludes.
Writer: Laurent Pichotzki-Libano