India pharma companies well positioned for global growth

Failure to comply with the stringent quality requirements in developed markets is a key risk

Growth for Indian pharmaceutical companies is likely to get a boost as countries are increasingly focusing on affordable health care. However, failure to comply with the stringent quality requirements in developed markets is a key risk. This was revealed in a report, titled ‘Indian Pharmaceutical Companies Have a Global Opportunity, If They Conquer Compliance Issues,’ which was published by Standard & Poor’s.

“Expansion into developed markets, especially the US, is positive for the credit profiles of Indian pharma companies. The market’s size and the absence of price controls are likely to support the revenue growth and profitability,” said Vishal Kulkarni, Credit Analyst, Standard & Poor’s.

The growth prospects are particularly high for Indian companies in the speciality and complex generic drugs segment in the US. Most of these companies have a limited presence in this segment, but we expect them to gradually move up the value chain.

Compliance with regulations is a key requirement for Indian pharma companies to realise their growth potential, the report notes. Failure on this front would seriously hurt creditworthiness. It could lead to disruptions in production, import bans, remediation costs and above all reputational and litigation risks.

The largest 10 Indian pharma companies are much smaller in terms of revenue than their global generics peers.

“What the Indian companies lack in size is largely offset by their strong product pipeline, presence in emerging markets, and conservatively maintained financial health,” said Kulkarni.

Indian companies’ focus on research and development (R&D) will continue to help them build a sustainable product pipeline. Standard & Poor’s expects the role of Indian companies in mergers and acquisitions in the global pharmaceutical market to be moderate to marginal. Their acquisitions are likely to be measured against the backdrop of elevated valuations, longer integration periods, problems with operational synergies, and the managerial bandwidth required to reap benefits from such acquisitions.

“We believe many Indian companies have the financial capacity to make modest acquisitions. However, they have strong scope to grow business organically, minimising the need to aggressively add size through acquisitions,” said Kulkarni.

“We believe Indian pharma companies will find it difficult to improve profitability as they look to expand, although they should still maintain healthy EBITDA margins of 20 to 30 per cent. A drop in formulations coming off-patent over the next three to four years and increasing competition could limit margin gains. Increasing spending on R&D, regulatory compliance, and legal costs will also dent margins,” said Kulkarni.

EP News BureauMumbai

IndiapharmaceuticalVishal Kulkarni
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