Express Pharma

Pharma leaders discuss strategies thrive in an era of disruption

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In the run up to Express Pharma’s Silver Jubilee year starting this December, Express Pharma recently organised a round table discussion with pharma leaders, in partnership with the Optel Group in Mumbai. The round table comprised a gathering of the top notch pharma leaders who discussed and deliberated on leadership strategies needed to thrive in an era of disruption. The learnings from this initiative spanning the year will be published as a collection of thought leadership articles, designed to help pharma professionals navigate the challenging era ahead.

The discussion was moderated by Viveka Roychowdhury, Editor, Express Pharma and presided over by special guests Louis Roy, Founder and President, Optel Group Shaunak Dave, CEO and MD, Optel Group, India, Annie Dubé, Consul General of Canada, Consule générale du Canada, Dominic Marcotte, Consulate General of Canada, Quebec Government.

Thought leadership from India’s pharma sector ranged from regulators like PBN Prasad, CDSCO DDC(I) CDSCO West Zone Mumbai, pharma association representatives like Daara Patel, Secretary – General, IDMA, and corporate chieftains like Aditi Panandikar, Managing Director, Indoco Remedies, Dr Ajit Dangi, President and CEO, Danssen Consulting, Dr Ashok Bhattacharya, Executive Director, Takeda Pharmaceuticals India, Vinay Pinto, Executive Director, Wallace Pharmaceuticals, BG Barve, Joint Managing Director, Blue Cross Laboratories, Kedar Upadhye, Joint President & Global CFO, Cipla, Kanish Malik, President & Global Head, Glenmark Pharma and Gagan Sharma, Vice President, Bliss GVS. Vadlamudi Rao, President, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association represented academia as well as the voice of pharmacists.

Roychowdhury welcomed the dignitaries and thanked industry for the support to reach this memorable milestone as a successful media platform. Explaining the rationale for the round table discussion, she asked the leaders to share their views on the disruptive challenges shaping the pharma sector, globally and in India, particularly and how can these be turned around into a competitive edge for pharma companies.

Louis RoyThis was followed by Louis Roy talking about Optel Group’s global business strategies and highlighting the company’s vision to offer a complete range of supply chain products in order to comply with the regulatory frameworks of various countries ranging from India’s DGFT, US FDA, EU FMD, WHO GMP, etc. Roy further threw light on the future of the pharmaceuticals industry and the way technology will empower the sector. He also mentioned that the company is leveraging artificial intelligence to further build its supply chain data which can be beneficial for pharma companies. He spoke about the demographic impact of research on drug development, and how pharma companies need to adopt patient centricity in order to disrupt the market.

If supply chain visibility is adversely impacted, it can have a serious impact on businesses, especially in the pharma industry
~ Louis Roy, Founder and President, Optel Group

Annie DubéAnnie Dubé from Consule générale du Canada urged pharma companies to focus on prevention of diseases. She also highlighted that her country envisages to partner with India in order to strengthen healthcare systems across the globe. She also mentioned that Canada and India are looking forward for opportunities to work and collaborate together.


Canada and India are always looking for opportunities to work together and collaborate together
~ Annie Dubé, Consule générale du Canada

Dominic MarcotteDominic Marcotte from Government of Quebec informed that presently the Quebec region had almost 630 lifesciences companies which contribute significantly to the country’s economy. He also outlined some of his government’s strategies planned to year 2027 to make pharma businesses more viable and sustainable in the long run.


Quebec government is giving considerable support to lifescience industry and opportunities for Indian pharma companies
~ Dominic Marcotte, Consulate General of Canada, Quebec Government

Shaunak DaveShaunak Dave from Optel Group talked about pricing pressures faced by the pharma sector in India. He further urged leaders to adopt value-driven leadership to achieve sustainable growth. Highlighting how technology is disrupting the world like never before, he emphasised why it is important for the pharma industry to stay abreast with technological transformations to stay relevant and competitive. He spoke about the shift from Internet to intelligence and its transition to self decision making process. He mentioned issues being faced by the industry like dependency for APIs, the fractured supply chain, pricing control in the domestic segment, operational efficiency, emerging destinations offering cheaper services and products, etc.

When a leader does not address the problem, then the leader becomes the problem
~ Shaunak Dave, CEO and MD, Optel Group, India

P BN PrasadFor the regulator’s perspective, Roychowdhury asked Prasad from CDSCO West Zone Mumbai how pharma regulators like him are dealing with digital disruptions and what are the CDSCO’s strategies to match up to technology and harmonise with global regulators, while meeting the unique needs of India’s patient population and industry. Prasad agreed with Dave on the influence of digital disruption within the pharma sector. Speaking about the regulatory challenges which the pharma sector is currently facing, he said this digital disruption could be harnessed for better productivity. He cited the example of the Sugam portal, an e-governance platform by CDSCO, which has been developed to ease the process of conducting pharma business in India, be it applying for various licenses, awaiting approvals etc.

Pharma companies should be looking into data enabling not data deleting
~ P BN Prasad, CDSCO DDC(I) CDSCO West Zone Mumbai

Conceding that the portal is still a work in progress, he indicated that certain certification processes were being upgraded. This upgradion will also include medical devices, WHO GMP certificates, blood bank inspections, vaccine licensing etc. Additionally, in the next two to three years, the entire system will shift to online mode and applicants can track their application status on their own. According to Prasad, at present, 50 per cent of the work has been become paperless.

Daara PatelChipping in as an association chief, Patel from IDMA emphasised that members should be trained to keep updated with the requirements of global markets. He also informed that the association is working closely with the government to understand the industry’s requirements and taking pro-active steps in this direction. He also pointed out that the pharma industry needs to deploy AI and Big Data in a big way to spur its progress.


Pharma industry needs to deploy AI and Big Data effectively to spur its progress
~ Daara Patel, Secretary – General, IDMA

Moving from regulation and policy to corporate issues, Roychowdhury quizzed the panellists on their thoughts on capital allocation – what ideas do they have for growth? Where are they putting their money? What are the future avenues of growth?

Kedar UpadhyeResponding to these queries, Cipla’s Kedar Upadhye spoke about the company’s capex strategies and investments in technologies. He talked about how pharma companies are bringing different disruptions in treatment methods by using technology. He further mentioned that disruptions and innovations driven by technology will give rise to several opportunities, drive more value and improve compliance, however, it will come with a lot of challenges. . He also emphasised on the need to innovate in packaging.

Pharma companies need to bring innovation in packaging
~ Kedar Upadhye, Joint President & Global CFO, Cipla

Kanish MalikThe fact that strategies need to flow from senior leadership was emphasised by many speakers. Kanish Malik from Glenmark Pharma talked about inclusive leadership strategies to thrive in a price competitive market condition. He pointed out how challenges differ from generic to innovation based companies and how leaders can turn these challenges into opportunities. He also mentioned that pharma leadership needs to be more inclusive and a mindset change to thrive in an era of disruption is vital.

Pharma leadership needs to be more inclusive and a mindset change to thrive in an era of disruption driven by technology is pivotal
~ Kanish Malik, President & Global Head, Glenmark Pharma

Ajit DangiAjit Dangi from Danssen Consulting focussed on a few important characteristics needed in pharma leadership for the 21st century. In a disruptive world, Dangi emphasised that leaders need to think on their feet. Pharma companies need to focus on cost of quality non-performance and how improving quality can improve the companies’ bottom line. He mentioned that Indian Pharma Inc has to move up the value chain. There is the need to move from cost-arbitrage to intellectual-arbitrage with effective use of innovative technologies and how Quality by Design will help pharma companies to improve their top lines. He raised concerns about the low value-high volume contribution of Indian pharma companies to the global pharma sales market and advised companies stuck between reverse engineering and R&D to start focusing on research.

Leaders need to think on their feet
~ Dr Ajit Dangi, President and CEO, Danssen Consulting

Dr Ashok BhattacharyaDr Ashok Bhattacharya from Takeda Pharmaceuticals, India spoke on how important it is for pharma leaders to invest in the right infrastructure and the right technology to thrive in an era of disruption. He highlighted key issues being faced by the industry due to SUGAM portal and how it has disrupted the industry.


Pharma companies should be focusing on patient centric technologies
~ Dr Ashok Bhattacharya, Executive Director, Takeda Pharmaceuticals India

Aditi Kare PanandikarTalking about the Indian pharma industry and its complexities, Aditi Kare Panandikar from Indoco Remedies shared insights on how the pharma industry needs to deploy disruptive technologies to drive growth and thrive in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world and derive competitive advantages. She also felt that there is disruption happening at supply chain post GST implementation and how companies are handling it positively. However, she feels that complexities and ambiguity need to be better understood by the industry.

Complexities and ambiguity need more time to be understood
~ Aditi Kare Panandikar, Managing Director, Indoco Remedies

Vadlamudi RaoMoving from the concerns within pharma companies to concerns of stakeholders in the pharma retail and consumer-facing segments, Roychowdhury asked for Vadlamudi Rao’s views on the role of pharmacists. As president of the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association, he believed that pharmacists within the healthcare sector need to be included in decision making process. He emphasised on empowerment of pharmacists to thrive in an era of disruption. Unless they are more empowered the industry might face serious problems in a tech-driven future.

The advice of the pharmacist is absolutely required while designing the required healthcare system.
~ Vadlamudi Rao, President, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association

Gagan HarshGagan Harsh from Bliss GVS informed about how the audit process has changed over the years and stressed on the need for leaders to train their people in handling the disruption with confidence. While sharing his perspective about skilling, he said that pharma industry has already begun training people to tap future opportunities and tackle future challenges.


Leaders need to be groomed to empower their manpower in an era of disruption
~ Gagan Harsh, Vice President, Bliss GVS

BG BarveBG Barve from Blue Cross Laboratories talked about meaningful collaborations and knowledge sharing, which will help the pharma industry in dealing with the challenges and optimise the opportunities in an era of disruption. He also emphasised on a point that success of digitalisation is only possible when companies discuss their issues with regulators.


Success of digitalisation is only possible when companies discuss their issues with regulators
~ BG Barve, Joint Managing Director, Blue Cross Laboratories

Vinay PintoVinay Pinto from Wallace Pharmaceuticals talked about how data is going to play a huge disruptor in innovation and emphasised that there is a need to learn how to leverage the data effectively. However, the data will be a great disruptor and pharma industry needs to learn to utilise it effectively.


Data will be a great disruptor and the pharma industry needs to learn to utilise it effectively in a disruptive era
~ Vinay Pinto, Executive Director, Wallace Pharmaceuticals

The select CEO Roundtable discussed several other industry issues ranging from the need for pharma companies to reduce their dependency on imports of APIs and key intermediates. Leaders also explained how disruption can be introduced at all levels. The key is to make such disruptions sustainable. For example, the focus on sustainability through traceability technology will be disruptive in nature but can be a completive edge. Emphasising the need to adhere to regulations set by different regulatory authorities, they highlighted how ethics and compliance are going to be the way every leader will be evaluated.

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