by April 2, 2012 0 comments

Indian pharmaceutical industry is the the third largest in the world in terms of volume. According to Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, the total turnover of India’s pharmaceuticals industry between 2008 and September 2009 was US$21.04 billion. India’s pharmaceutical industry grew at about 15.7% during December 2011 and is expected to grow at 9.5% till 2015. The India pharmaceutical market is expected to touch $74 billion sales by 2020 from US $11 billion. Moreover, with the increase in the population with the higher income group, a potential $8 billion market for multinational companies selling costly drugs will be open by 2015. Apart from this the domestic market is estimated to touch $20 billion by 2015, making India an ideal destination for global giants.

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The number of Indian pharma companies on the whole is fairly low since most of the pharma companies are controlled by foreign companies having subsidiaries in India due to availability of cheap labour in India at lowest cost. It was in 1960s that the government has started to encourage the drug manufacturing in India and also came up with the Patent Act in 1970 but the economic liberalization in 90s made the industry what it is today. The patent act removed patents from food and drugs, and though it kept process patents, these were shortened to a period of five to seven years. On the other hand the lack of patent protection made the Indian market undesirable to the multinational companies that had dominated the market. Indian companies came out strong in both the Indian and global markets with their expertise in new processes for manufacturing drugs at low costs.

Business Challenges

Counterfeit drugs is one of the major problems. As this sector is unorganized, estimating the size and scale of the counterfeit drug market in India is very difficult. Global studies estimate its size to be over $75 billion of the total drug market. Counterfeit drugs have ill effects ranging from development of immunity against some positive medical formulations to development of fatal infections of various kinds and in some adverse cases fake medicines even cause deaths. Another problem that this industry faces is during the packaging process. Manual packaging processes or artwork for labels, leaflets, packages are extremely time-consuming and sometimes error prone. The errors in artwork can sometimes lead to product recalls from the market place.

Some IT Solutions

The medical fraternity is in urgent need for an effective and scalable drug authentication solution that restricts manufacturing and distribution of spurious medicines. Industry has consistently been working towards exploring various solutions to arrive on a feasible solution that has a two way protection mechanism, creating value for the pharmaceutical manufacturer and empowering the consumer with knowledge about a drug. Some traditional methods like holograms and field enforcement have lost relevance due to cost concerns, ad-hoc nature of the solution and possible replication by counterfeit mafia. For the packaging problem, you could do with a solution that involves an innovative cloud compliant model with flexible delivery.

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Benefits that IT Brings to Table

IT has a key role to play in resolving many such problems. For instance, PharmaSecure, an IT solution provider in this space, has come up with a mobile authentication solution for battling counterfeit drugs. A mobile authentication solution lets the end consumer check and authenticate his own medicine by sending a simple verification SMS. A random and unique alphanumeric code is printed at the manufacturing line on each medicine package (strip/bottle/ blister pack) along with a mobile number where this code can be SMSed. When a consumer sends this message, an immediate reply is received that officially validates the medicine’s genuineness. In addition to the primary benefit of empowering consumers to check that they are buying an authentic drug, this solution also has the benefit of establishing a two-way channel of communication between the manufacturer and the consumer or the government and the consumer. This channel can be used to disseminate important drug safety information, educate the consumer about the particular ailment he may be suffering from, and inform him about key government public health initiatives.

Case Study

Artwork Mgmt System at Biocon

Biocon, a well known name in this segment, recently implemented an Artwork Management System. The application manages the entire Artwork lifecycle from product initiation by the marketing team to approval from various teams such as formulation, production, quality checks, regulatory compliance, etc. to the process of printing and archiving approved artworks. Some of its features include single sign on capability, integrated document management, controlled workflows, real-time access to information, and collaborative portal accessibility anywhere and anytime. This in turn minimizes the possibility of errors.

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