Express Pharma

How will Pharma 2021 unfold?

Dr RB Smarta, CMD, Interlink and VP, HADSA elaborates on ten trends that will greatly influence the pharma industry in 2021-22

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2020 was an eye-opening year for every industry and the pharma industry is not an exception. From supply chain disruption due to over-dependence on China to fractured fieldwork and numerous allied unfavourable changes, we faced several challenges and are still facing them.

But, all these changes have taught us many things and now we are evolving. Overreliance was always dangerous and the COVID situation played its cards so hard that now we can’t afford to oversee any problem and we are getting equipped to fight possible future uncertainties.

It is said that challenges never come without opportunities. The same is applied to our pharma industry which is now evolving through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to chase new opportunities.

Also, we have an educated population of patients whose mindset has evolved to a better and greater extent during this period. They have become health conscious because of the pandemic. Even the vaccines will increase the pharma market. So, a new segment is going to emerge i.e., immunisation.

Game-changing year

FY 2021 is likely to be a game-changing year for the healthcare industry. Due to the pandemic experience, the population is focusing on health, fitness and building immunity. Strengthening health and wellness as well as fitness of the body is going to be a major focus all over the world.

As a result, the pharma industry will no longer be able to focus only on illness while providing medication but will have to keep a balance of how quickly a patient’s health is restored. To do that, besides hospitals, building rehabilitation centres, health clinics and gymnasiums along with yoga will be seeing the light of day.

In a nutshell, we are moving towards personalised focus in healthcare. That’s one reason we can say that it’s a game-changing year after the pandemic.

10 major trends

Below mentioned ten trends will change the game and decide the future of the pharma industry. Let us look at the implications of these ten trends for the year 2021-22, consolidate our thoughts and prioritise them to provide a kind of direction for growth.

1. Vitamin & Minerals supplements (VMS)

With increasing incidence of lifestyle diseases and patients getting inclined towards preventive and curative nutrition, one of the substantially growing segments in FY 2020-21 is ‘Vitamins and Minerals supplements’. With an increasing number of doctors prescribing vitamin and mineral supplements in the patients’ treatment regimen, pan-India primary research of Interlink shows that 63 per cent of nutraceuticals products are catered through pharmacists based on generated prescriptions.

This will progress further as medical foods and foods for special diseases open the doors wide open for this sector. By 2022, the nutraceutical market in India will be worth $8.5 billion and accounting for three per cent of the global market share.

Factors contributing to this growth of nutraceuticals are as follows:

a) Busy lifestyle: Easy to carry nutraceutical supplements and products come in handy to fulfil one’s nutritional needs in a hectic lifestyle where having a balanced meal may not always be possible

b) Rising patient awareness and body image concerns: Patients are aware of the side-effects of medicines due to the presence of chemical entities. By contrast, nutraceuticals provide natural, plant-based alternatives. Millennials, being weight conscious, are turning to nutraceuticals to lose weight

c) Focus on preventive healthcare: About 62 per cent of the healthcare costs incurred in India are borne by the patients out of their own pockets. Preventive care has received impetus lately due to the rising costs of healthcare

d) Internet penetration: This helped increase the availability and visibility of nutritional supplements in the market.

Hence, keeping the above factors in mind, VMS is a lucrative market to tap in 2021-22.

2. Specialty care and patient focus

This is a promising area emerging with multiple patient-centric formulations which will add value to build robust patient engagements.

Following are the factors influencing the growth of this sector:

a) Rise in cell and gene therapies: The global gene therapy market was valued at $3.61 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $35.67 billion by 2027.

In 2019, the oncology segment accounted for a share of over 40 per cent in the global cell and gene therapy market and more than 60 per cent of the current gene therapy clinical trials are targeting cancer. With the approval of several such therapies, there is a shift towards effective patient-specific treatments. This will further positively propel the cell and gene therapy market in 2021-22.

b) Consumer healthcare market is on the rise: Prescription drugs are turning into self-medicated ones. Companies are relying on consumer insights to enhance their channel management and merchandising capabilities as well as to lower their margins.

Looking at this scenario, we can say that the growing market of patient-specific medicines will make some impressive moves in 2021-22.

3. Heritage brands

Heritage brands are the cash counts of many companies and a majority of the volume is generated by these cash counts who directly fund R&D work and new product development. Besides, it has been observed for many years that they grow at a lesser pace but contribute to market share and ranking of the brands. They are also responsible for the growth of the company.

Many heritage brands have seen the process of evolution by either re-composing their ingredients or by adding certain relevant ingredients or by creating additional brands for better treatment of existing as well as new customers. The issue of losing earlier target customers get properly addressed when companies