Suresh Pareek, MD, Ideal Cures, elaborates on his company’s offerings for the pharma sector, its growth strategies and his expectations from CPhI 2016, in an interview with Viveka Roychowdhury
What have been the dominant trends in pharma excipients and film coating systems in 2016?
Quality, service and supply excellence are pre-requisites to be a vendor to the pharma industry. The major trend has been responding to reducing supply risk. As a result, there has been an increase in qualification of alternate excipient vendors who have the right credentials such as cGMP manufacturing with ISO and EXCiPACT certification by discerning pharma manufacturers.
What have been the major drivers of these trends?
There are obvious drivers such as supply chain security to reduce dependence on monopolistic suppliers and encourage healthy competition. The not so obvious one is to limit the proliferation of ‘fighter brands’ by dominant players who are moving the goal post citing cost and service standard differences to retain profit margins and hoodwink the pharma industry as it is detrimental to the industry since it promotes two-tier pricing and perception of quality. By developing alternate vendors, the dominant companies will have to compete with the premium brands at the right price. This is actually a great service to the domestic and unregulated markets which will have access to the premium brands on par with products for the regulated markets. At Ideal Cures, we believe that all the seven billion people on this planet are first class citizens and should have access to first class medicines so we promote our first class brand ‘Instacoat’ for all markets.
What have been the most recent additions, line extensions to Ideal Cures’ range?
Ideal Cures was the first film coating company to launch the highest productivity coating ‘Instacoat 4G’ in the world and we have recently fine-tuned our offerings with specialised coatings for better colour stability and talc free/ peg free coatings. We are also expanding our wet dispersion offerings. We are currently working on several projects that will result in some revolutionary film coating products.
The company already has an office in the US, what are the growth strategies for this market?
The US is the largest pharma market and one of the most regulated as well. There are several players already in this market, however, a dominant one has contracted majority of the fully formulated coating business and that makes the customers very uncomfortable. While looking for alternatives these customers are reluctant to partner with the other dominant players as they have a large exposure to them as well for other products. In fact, many have approached us directly to support them for their new applications knowing fully well that in the short term we will be supporting them by supplying products from India. Generic companies who have filed ANDAs with our products from India are comfortable with sourcing from India whether the final formulation is made in India or the US. After all, there are so many ingredients that are imported by the pharma companies in the US. There is also the large in-house market of large and small players which is waiting to be tapped as they find the cost of the fully formulated suppliers either too expensive or the supplier too arrogant to support and supply to the so called “segmented small customers.” In any case, we are fully aware as have been the Indian pharma industry that we need to be local in the US. We have a business plan in play and have some options on how we will enter the market. Now, all we can say is that our strategy will be unique and we want you to watch this space.
Ideal Cures has been a regular participant at CPhi Worldwide, how was the experience this year?
Over the years, CPhI Worldwide has grown tremendously. It started off small to become what it is today. At CPhI Worldwide, you can network with thousands of pharma industry companies and professionals from more than 150 countries across the world in one place over three days. Not only is it a convenient way to further business with existing customers and suppliers but also an opportunity to source new suppliers, build new relationships, identify new business opportunities, getting introduced to new products and business ideas. In the past it functioned as a typical B2C exhibition where buyers and suppliers turned up and met in an ad hoc fashion. It has now evolved into a true B2B convention with many prearranged meetings which dominated our interaction with the customers in contrast to dependence on random footfalls of the past.
On the domestic side, you are adding a fourth manufacturing unit in Sikkim, in addition to the three existing plants in Vasai, Jammu and Khambat along with two modern R&D facilities at Mumbai and Vasai. At what stage is the plant construction etc.?
Our plant construction is on schedule to commence operations before March 2017.
When is the plant scheduled to be inaugurated?
We expect to inaugurate it in late January or early February of 2017.
What are the expectations and strategies for CPhI India 2016?
At CPhI India 2016, we can expect to continue the networking style and opportunity that is presented at CPhI worldwide. This one tends to be regional and we have customer intimacy being an Indian company which we will leverage. We plan to showcase our differentiating set of best-in-class products, pre-arrange meetings with our key customers, introduce them to our international colleagues as well as entertain the random footfalls. The end game for us is to increase our business opportunities in the region through customer delight. We know our customers have choices and we want that choice to be us because we offer ease of business.