In three decades, Bliss GVS has emerged as a Rs 400-crore niche player in suppositories and pessaries By Usha Sharma
The Rs 407-crore Mumbai-based Bliss GVS Pharma is into developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality pharmaceutical formulations. The company specialises in the manufacturing more than 40 formulations in suppositories and pessaries for international as well as domestic market.
The journey so far
In the year 1984, Bliss GVS was incorporated as Bliss Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals India, driven by four stakeholders. In 1986 the company launched its flagship product ‘Today’ – Vaginal Contraceptive which became their blockbuster drug. Later in 2004, SN Kamath, the present-day Managing Director of the company, along with Gautam Ashra, Promoter, took over the company and in 2006, both of them decided and re-established the company and coined it as Bliss GVS. Recalling those days, Kamath says, “When I and Ashra decided to take over Bliss Chemicals, we both were convinced with the company’s potential and its products’ capabilities.” Moreover, he informs that he had the right background as he started his career with an anti-malarial product in the African market.
In 2007, the company commissioned its manufacturing unit for tablets, dry syrups at Palghar in Maharashtra. This facility provided a boost to the company’s growth and in 2010 it opened a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for suppositories and pessaries in the same premise at Palghar. After coming up with the facility, the company applied for EU-GMP approval and received it in 2011.
Since its inception, Bliss GVS has always followed an organic approach for its growth. In 2012, the company acquired 70 per cent stake in Kremoint Pharma to strengthen its presence in the dermatology segment. The acquisition helped the company expand its product portfolio and led to the setting-up of a manufacturing unit for dry powders for injection, ampoules, eye/ear/nose drops and nasal spray.
The company continued to expand and in 2012-13, it set up a new research and development centre in Andheri, Mumbai for developing new formulation dosage forms of suppositories and pessaries. The centre has received an approval from Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Government of India.
Today, the company supplies to renowned domestic and multinational pharma companies like Sun Pharma, Boehringer Ingelheim etc “Currently, we have more than 200 products across 20 therapeutic categories and 16 dosage forms. There are more than 15 products in pipeline which would be commercialised in the next financial year,” informs Kamath.
Bliss has emerged as a reliable name in the suppositories and pessaries and today its blockbuster drug called, Lonart, gives approximately 40 per cent of the company’s total business which changed to over Rs 100 crores.
Bliss GVS has its presence in more than 64 countries. Being an export-oriented company, almost 95 per cent of the revenue is generated from exports. Talking about the company’s business focus, Kamath highlights, “Bliss GVS’s focus has always been on creating brands in various countries that we have been operating across various therapeutic segments like anti-malarial etc. and dosage forms like suppositories and pessaries etc. Suppository is a niche dosage form and hence the potential of this market has been largely untapped.”
If suppositories have huge business potential than why aren’t any other Indian pharma companies exploring it? Is it because medical representatives are finding it difficult to educate doctors or do companies lack awareness? Replying to the question, Kamath states, “Indian patients have traditional mindsets and are a bit rigid about opting for such methods. It has been found through our own experience that promoting suppositories to doctors has traditionally been very difficult. Although doctors are convinced that suppositories are superior to other conventional drug delivery system, they find it difficult to explain to patients how to administer this dosage form in vernacular languages. However, due to increased awareness about safety and efficacy of suppositories, we see a continuous increase in demand in the domestic as well as international markets and we are confident that overall market for this dosage forms will continue to grow at a faster pace.” He further elaborates, “Suppository as a drug delivery system is being used to deliver a wide range of drugs cutting across therapeutic segments for local as well as systemic effect. Due to superiority and convenience of suppository as a dosage form it can be used to deliver drugs in a wide range of therapeutic categories like anti-fungal, contraceptive, laxative, anti-haemorrhoidal, anti-spasmodic, antipyretic, analgesic, anti-malarial etc. There is a positive growth across all these categories in the Indian market and hence this drug delivery form can be a rewarding asset for Indian pharma companies with good marketing infrastructure.”
Moreover, this system also offers several benefits. SR Vaidya, Director, Bliss GVS informs that this form of drug delivery has no side effects on the human body as it bypasses the GI system and works effectively on the ailment.
Thus, the company sees a lot of potential in this segment and has been concentrating its efforts to leverage the growth opportunities.
Presently, the company has six manufacturing facilities including one R&D Centre in Mumbai. “Our manufacturing facilities are certified to be cGMP compliant by local and international standards – EU GMP, WHO GMP, ISO-14001, OHSAS-18001,” informs Kamath.
Bliss GVS’s R&D centre employs 50-plus scientists and plays a crucial role in fuelling the innovation culture in the organisation. The R&D lab follows stringent guidelines based on good laboratory practices and is well equipped with up-to-date equipment like particle size analyser, gas chromatography, high performance liquid chromatograph, dissolution tester, stability chamber and lab scale manufacturing machine.
The company does not spend much on marketing and branding activities and still catches people’s eye. When we asked about the company’s success mantra, Kamath revealed, “Our day-to-day actions are guided by four guiding principles, Identify right people and continuously invest in their skill enhancement, continuous innovation in the product offering to meet emerging market demands, strategic alliances for sourcing and marketing the products and focus on building brands.”
Kamath informs, “Bliss GVS leads the suppository market in India by marketing its own brands and contract manufacturing for major pharma companies. To cater to the growing demand we have recently enhanced our production capacity and we are now the world’s largest manufacturer of suppositories dosage form by volume. This manufacturing capability is complemented by a state-of-the-art R&D centre located in Mumbai having more than 50 scientists focusing on developing suppositories and pessaries. We are a leading organisation in India for contract development and manufacturing for suppositories and pessaries for regulated markets.”
The company’s growth trajectory shows it is doing phenomenally well in its domain and heading towards further success. It is expanding its international reach as well.
With a product basket of 200 in the existing therapeutic areas, the company is planning to expand its reach in the regulated markets as well. Presently, it exports its products to over 60 countries and has established a strong presence in the African market. While disclosing the company’s business activities in the African region, Kamath elaborates, “While we were focusing on building brands in the finished formulations space, we found a huge gap in the quality of healthcare services in Africa. As Africa has given us an opportunity to grow, we wanted to do our bit for this under-served region which made perfect business sense as well. Thus, we decided to contribute towards improvement of healthcare infrastructure by deploying latest technology in the area of radio-diagnostics like MRI, CT scan and other ancillary diagnostic services like biochemistry, pathology etc, while also adding a gamut of clinical services provided in our healthcare clinics. In a very short span of time, we have started diagnostic centres and chain of clinics in multiple countries of Africa. We are working closely with leading insurance companies in managed healthcare services which would eventually help us in making quality healthcare affordable to general masses in various African countries as we continue to scale up our operations.”
Presently, the company has 30 + health clinics in Kenya and are planning to set up 150 more clinics in 47 African countries in the next 9-12 months. Commenting on how the company is managing to drive down the cost and encourage the healthcare service in Africa, Kamath states, “We have tied up with an insurance company in Kenya to bring down the cost of healthcare service and help patients avail quality service.”
It has opened two diagnostic service centres in Nigeria and are planning to expand those centres. the company also plans to set up such centres in Nigeria and its neighbouring countries.
The company has business plans for the semi and highly regulated markets as well. While sharing details on that, Kamath discloses, “We have already received multiple approvals for our formulations in suppositories and pessaries dosage form in regulated markets. Our product registration dossiers have been submitted in various regulated markets and we anticipate more registration in the next fiscal. (We plan to have) products which are a strategic fit in the regulated markets while in semi-regulated markets, we have increased our pace of dossier submissions for registrations in South East Asia, CIS, Africa and LATAM.”
Plans for future growth
During the fiscal year 2014-15, the company’s consolidated revenue increased 18 per cent y-o-y basis to Rs 407.13 crore. “We are aiming to achieve a growth of 25 per cent for the current fiscal year,” informs Kamath.
He continues further, “Our plan has always been to identify, develop and market niche products and would like to continue with it. We are now planning to have strategic tie-ups with Indian and European companies for in-licensing and out-licensing of products. We are also planning to get associated with strategic partners like large insurance companies in managed healthcare services in Africa.”
Further, the company has plans to invest Rs 40 crores to set up a new manufacturing facility in Palghar for tablet and capsules. It is likely that the new facility will be commissioned by the end of 2016. The manufacturing capacity of the new facility will be approximately 2.5 billion per annum for tablets and capsules. “To cater to the growing market demand, we have planned for a new manufacturing facility for oral solids. This greenfield project would be funded partially from accrued profits and we may decide to raise finance for further expansion, should there be a need. This new facility would be commissioned in FY 16-17,” informs Kamath.
Thus, Bliss GVS has really come a long way and intends to scale greater heights in the coming years, helmed by its able leader, SN Kamath.